Use these great art direction examples when working with a graphic designer.



As a graphic designer, it’s sometimes a challenge to hit the target on a concept or design. Most designers, me included, are people pleasers and our clients’ happiness is something we strive for. If we fail to reach that goal, we often take it personally.




With that said, we aren’t mind readers. Sometimes we nail it right off and other times we need a little help getting over the hurdle. Below are a few suggestions when you can’t seem to get what you want out of your designer.



1. Educate them.

Sometimes we don’t understand the process of your business, or we understand but it makes our heads hurt. Terms such as “end-user,” “business- to business,” “customer facing” and the like are easily understood, but when they are interchanged the boundaries can blur.

Because we are more visual, it helps if you draw out a hierarchy of your business or the process you want to convey. This helps tremendously, as we can revisit that information in the design process.


2. Give them samples.

This is a fine line. Sometimes if you show artists an example it automatically will make an impression that they can’t think past. Offering a mood board or a collection of ideas is better. That way the artist isn’t pinned in to a specific thought, but more of an emotion or atmosphere. Personally, I like to see samples of what the competitor is doing (so I know what not to do) but every artist works differently.

Also, it may help to provide three to five adjectives to help relay what you’re thinking to your artist. This frames out an idea without restricting creativity.


3. Be approachable.

Nobody knows your business like you. Nobody knows the vision you have for your company like you. Whether you’re working with a designer on a brochure, website or logo, be willing to explain what you want as many times as you need to and be willing to answer questions without becoming frustrated.


4. Leave them alone.

If you have communicated what you are looking for as best you can, let them do their job. You are just going to create anxiety by hovering or over directing. Give them the chance to work through it, make mistakes and learn. Design is a process. You may go through several revisions … as long as it’s moving forward in the right direction, be patient.


5. Rethink your idea.

Maybe it’s you. There, I said it. Is the design missing the mark because the artist made it blue and you really like orange? What is the point of contention? Is it a personal style? Or is the design not working because your business process doesn’t make sense and that is reflected in the design? Stand back and be objective of what you’re asking your designer to do.


6. Compromise.

Sometimes the end result just isn’t attainable. Maybe it’s time constraints, a tight budget or the vision just isn’t there. Whatever the reason, that old phrase “choose your battles” applies here. Maybe to make the deadline or budget you have to let this one go. There’s nothing wrong with regrouping and trying again for the next time.



These are all art direction examples that, over the years, have worked for me when I just didn’t understand what was being asked of me. I’ve had some amazing clients who were patient in the process, and as a result, together we produced some amazing work. Stay tuned for my next blog, “When to Fire Your Graphic Designer” … just kidding.





The Vela team is a big believer that open and honest communication results in great work for our clients. Contact us today for help with your next project.