“My cousin or this dude is a designer too.”
Just about any industry can be compared to the rap game. Outside of medical, legal and police; just about anyone can claim to be something and get paid for it.
Too many times have I heard, “My cousin is a designer too” or “I know someone who designs “GRAPHICS.” Designs graphics?!?!? What does that even mean?
I hear this quite a bit from African American’s, which I equate to some not being exposed to creative professional career businesses or creative higher learning institutions. I often express relentlessly, we’ve only been officially free and legally accepted for the past 60 years. Hard to believe given all of the accomplishments but it’s true. And we still as a people have a long way to go in learning about certain industries we aren’t quite represented.
“I know someone who designs graphics.”
I’m sure we all know someone who does something. But are they a professional? Is this what they do for a living? Are they qualified to be called a professional creative? Below, I’ll address how to identify a creative professional and how to recognize “good” design. Because people are out here slip’n.
How To Identify A Creative Professional
There are several platforms for creative professionals and are the go-to for designers, photographers, videographers, motion graphic artists, art directors, businesses owners and even potential clients. Usually a professional on these platforms will showcase several things; their past projects, clients and awards. I live by these platforms. Trust and believe I’m out here. See below for what you should look for the next time someone say’s, “I design graphics”, “I’m an event promoter”, “I create flyers” or any of the other vague non-professional terms. Time to call them out.
1. Linkedin is perfect for verifying all types of professionals. It has a number of functions, which help support the validation of the abilities and experience of professionals.
First to note, is the ability to tag companies you’ve worked for, what your position was and a brief description of your purpose. For me, it is extremely important to add the businesses I’ve worked for in the hopes it helps others realize how capable of a creative professional I am.
The next big benefit of Linkedin I feel is truly necessary, is the recommendations feature. Everyone says, it matters what people think and say about you. I’m not perfect nor am I the best at what I do but I do the best I can with what I know and understand. And there are some who understand this.
Checking the recommendations of creative professionals will help you understand what peers think of them. Evaluate what others say about the professional you’re researching. Usually, the titles of the person recommending your creative speaks volumes. Looking for similar titles to your creative professional or titles like VP, CD, CW, AE, PM, CEO or etc add to the validating recommendation. It will help put your mind at ease when looking to use their abilities or services.
Another way you can use Linkedin is by sharing their profile with other people to fact check or validate their creative and experience. At the end of the day, good design can be subjective but more often times then not, creatives will recognize whether that person provides good design. Real recognize real!
2. Another platform a creative professional will have is behance. I find it to be almost impossible for a creative not to have some sort of presence on Behance. Only because it provides job postings, offers you a free portfolio website similar to squarespace and allows you to build a creative network. It’s free with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription and Behance is growing within the creative community. If your creative professional isn’t on Behance it’s not the end of the world… But they should be!
A creative professional on Behance will have a developed profile, similar to LinkedIn. Adding their work history, projects and sharing them on their social media are but a few ways a creative can build an impression and popularity on Behance.
It’s a platform where views and comments are displayed for others to see. And when looking for validation of your creative professional, those are signs you can use to see what their peers think of their work. Think of these examples validating the creative in the digital world as your proof of credibility.
3. Facebook is another platform for researching your creative professional in the digital space. A creative professional using all of these platforms including facebook shows they one, understand the power of social media and two, they aren’t afraid of establishing themselves online.
Facebook is one of the most used social platforms on the planet. So if your creative professional doesn’t have some form of a service page or at least a personal page with their resume and projects I wouldn’t lean on anything they say regarding being a professional. Although, there are exceptions to this. Those that are taking on side projects but still working full-time as a creative professional might not have service pages. That is where they’re full-time position would validate their abilities.
But let’s keep it real. Soooooo many people say they’re a graphic designer or logo designer because they picked up a book or learned Photoshop. I’m the first to admit there’s level’s to this ish but I have to help people realize $35 is not enough for a logo… It’s just not. Maybe your low-level creative that “does graphics” but not your creative professional validated by their career positions and their peers on global social and creative platforms.
4. Check whether or not they have their own website. If they don’t, maybe they’re represented on another platform. But what’s more important is their creative work and about section.
A professional should showcase their work somewhere and have a digital presence. Not being able to research a creative professional providing services should make them seem sketchy. Professionals should have past clients. They should show results from their creative projects and should have recommendations.
How to recognize good design
Below are examples displaying good and bad versions of two logos.
ipartyyy needed a brand refresh because their current logo lacked that nightlife modern feel. Not only that, but they had no justification for why the “AR” in partyyy was pink. Or why they had 3 “Y’s” I made sure to correct this for them. After the designs were presented they’re team expressed how amazing the upgrade was and positions their brand as more official.
If your professional who “does graphics” or “makes logos” doesn’t have case studies or rational explanations of logo designs they aren’t exactly professional.
I still managed to definitely answer the call regarding
a more modern and upscale logo design execution. The
3 “Y’s” fill up from left to right symbolizing the more
you drink the more fun you have.The old logo pales in comparison to the new design.
This project is what I call a successful loss. The client came to me wanting a nike type logo based on their current logo. He wanted something resembling the Ying Yang. Using that as a symbol for the logo was a little too cliché. Moving him towards a subtle approach to the Ying Yang was more effective from a storytelling standpoint. Plus he wanted to base his logo on balance and the foundation of working out the human body. So why not use the weight plates as a base for the logo and forward motion. The presented logo has a better look and feel elevating the brand. He refused to understand this but the design was still effective. Again, if your creative professional doesn’t have failures that should be another indicator you’re not dealing with a professional.
I Could Be Wrong
Everyone has different experiences
I am not positioning myself as perfect or the best creative out there. But I do understand where those creatives live and breath. Some of the best creative professionals can be found on those creative platforms and even more exclusive ones.
In the future, look to those creative platforms the next time someone say’s they’re a creative professional. And view their positions where they work. The last thing you want is a “creative professional” who’s main job is a wholefoods grocery bagger. There’s nothing wrong with that job but they are not a creative professional.