The role of art director in an agency is akin to a heart in a body—nothing happens without one. He or she is responsible, ultimately, for the look, feel and quality of work sent to the client. That’s a lot of power for one person.
Keeping said person happy, therefore, behooves us little mortals on the other end of the office.
That said, here’s a list of what not to do when working with a graphic designer or art director.
1. Don’t give free reign unless you mean it.
In other words, don’t tell a designer he or she has “creative control” and then pick the design to pieces afterward. If you truly have no direction for your designer, let him or her know—at least that will establish an expectation that the design may change drastically before you’re happy.
While no one likes a micromanager, direction is a good thing. Think about what you want before sitting down with a designer, and the first draft will hit much closer to the mark than it would’ve otherwise.
It will help avoid frustration and save you money.
2. Don’t assume Photoshop is magic. If it were magic, it would be called the magic well of bottomless magic.
Not everything can be fixed, trimmed, primped, brightened or sharpened in Photoshop. Low-resolution photos often don’t have enough data to salvage, and tweaking them in Photoshop never really helps. It also makes your art director crazy.
Photoshop is a tool to make good photos look even better, so if your job requires photography, make room in the budget for professional or stock photos.
3. Don’t design over the shoulder.
Not to be rude, but an art director likely knows more than you do about design—especially in an agency. Agency designers are trained in the theory and practical applications of marketing, and it’s to their advantage to stay up on trends. Their purpose is to provide value to you.
Give direction, ask for feedback and come up with a plan, but when it comes down to nuts and bolts designing, let the art director do it. Then, if the design is off-mark, regroup and try again.
But if you want to sit there and do it yourself … you might as well go and do it yourself.