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Melissa Gerber Package design

Image From The Design Portfolio of Melissa Gerber

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Tips Before You Hire – Hiring a designer can be a full time job. So to make your life a tad bit easier we came up with a list of must do’s before you hire for your next big project.

I am very pleased to introduce Melissa Gerber to our series. I’ve admired her work in Graphhic design and asked her to share with us her top 10 things to look for when hiring a Graphic Designer for a packaging design project.  Full disclosure, she’s also a Rochester Institute of Technology Alumni (Like me 🙂 which as most of you know has one of the best programs in the U.S for packaging development and design.

Melissa-Gerber-graphic-designer---packaging-designThe Top 10 Things to Look for When Hiring a Graphic Designer For A Package Design Project Written by Melissa Gerber Freelance Graphic Designer

1. Know the style of what you want your product to look like or at least an idea.
Visit stores that carry the type of packaging you are creating. If you find designs you like take notes and pictures if you can. You can also search the internet for packaging ideas and inspiration. Also, sometimes on the back of packages you will see the designer name. If you really like the design it is fairly easy to google the designer’s name and most times an online portfolio can be found with their contact information, resume and portfolio.

2. Visit creative websites.
There are lots of  graphic design portfolios online these days. This makes it much easier for the client to search easily for packaging designers with all types of backgrounds and styles. Some sites include: styleapple.com, coroflot.com, creativehotlist.com, and designrelated.com just to name a few. At these sites you can search specifically for packaging designers and review their work and resume. If you are unsure of what style you are looking for your design to be these sites will also show you different approaches to various packaging.

3. Review resume carefully.
In addition to reviewing the designer’s portfolio, pay close attention to the designer’s resume. Carefully review the resume to make sure they have the skill set that you require for the project. This will show you the designer’s experience with other clients and companies. It will tell you how long they have been designing and their experience level. A beautiful portfolio is promising, but the amount of experience they have is an important factor to consider. The amount of projects they have done over the years shows that they have learned to communicate and understand the needs of their clients. It also shows that people keep coming back to them.

4. Research and communicate with a few designers.
Find 2 or 3 designers whose work you really like and talk to them all to get a feel for who would be best to take on your project. Get a quote from each and discuss the project with them. Then see who you feel most comfortable giving the project to.

5. Get a quote.
Ask your graphic designer to give you a quote of the total fees. There may be additional fees if you need something illustrated, or images and fonts purchased for the design of your packaging. But also feel free to let them know what your budget is. If the designer knows you are on a tight budget they may be able to cut some corners and save some costs for you, but using free stock art, fonts they already own or by giving you a few less design options to choose from. It is good to discuss your concerns about fees so you can both come to something that works well for each of you.

6. Get to know your designer.
The internet and emails are great assets and you can utilize designers across the country since everything can be communicated and transmitted digitally, but it is always good to talk to your designer. Either meet up if they are local or speak on the phone. This gets communication flowing and you will be able get a better feel and trust for your designer. This is also the opportunity to ask them questions about their experience and find out more about their personality and if this is someone you want to work with for the next few months until the project is complete.

7. Don’t hesitate to ask for references.
If they are a great designer then they should have rave reviews and will not worry about giving references to you.

8. Be prepared to discuss details.

A designer works best when given all of the information at the beginning when you first discuss the project. Every part of the project should be discussed and no areas left gray.

When you speak to your designer about the project be prepared with this checklist of information:

• Detailed schedule-The packaging design process from start to end can take months. Make sure you allow enough time in your schedule to get exactly what you want and for the designer to have enough time to do it. A few weeks is not enough time to create a quality design from start to finish. You will always need to take into account the back and forth period of perfecting the design. A couple of months is a bit more realistic. Although some designers can whip things together quickly, you can’t predict that and should always add extra time into your schedule.

-start date of project
-when you want to see design options
-when the final design need to be approved
-when final mechanical files need to be provided for the printer

• Package dimensions and template for box so the designer understands what the final packaging will look like.

• Target Audience/Age Range. Is this packaging supposed to appeal to men, women, teens, children? All ages?

• How many different options for design would you like to see?
2-3 design options are a great start.

• All copy that will be on the package and instructions for where each piece of copy should go.

• What kind of paper/stock the design will be printed on. Different papers have different effects of the colors once it prints. Uncoated vs. Coated stock can make a big difference in the final colors and quality of the design and the designer needs to know this before they start designing so they choose the right palette and design accordingly.

• Special effects-Will you have a spot gloss? Embossing? Foil? The designer needs to set these effects up properly in their files and must know this at the start.

9. Communicate your vision if you have one.
Thoroughly discuss the design direction you are envisioning. Show samples of other packages that you like the style of to give the designer as reference. Let them know if you have specific colors in mind. The more information you give them the faster you will get to your desired design. It may also be helpful to give the designer a list of key words and ideas that your packaging should communicate to the consumer. What is the tone? Should it be fun or serious? All of this will help them consider what the design should look like and clarify the direction they should take.

10. If you don’t have a vision, it’s ok to trust your designer.
If you give them all of the necessary information above and still are not sure what style or feel you want for your design tell them that. You chose them because you love their work. Trust their creativity and experience. Sometimes what they surprise you with can be something you never knew you always wanted!

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