Top 10 lessons this writer’s learned from graphic designers

Art gallery

Art gallery — ahhhh. Image courtesy of DMedina, Morguefile.

In my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some talented graphic designers. They are my buds, like peanut butter and jelly, Batman and Robin, or movies and popcorn.

To me, it’s always miraculous what they can do — a few clicks here, a tweak there. After that, my text and their artwork become something magical. The infinite variety of the work that each designer produces using the same tools — whether it’s a computer or camera — is fascinating and even awe-inspiring.

One of these graphic designers was a talented outdoor photographer as well. I would study the photos on his website and pick up great ideas about how to convey texture, mood, color contrasts and other elements that made for visually appealing photos.

Just by working with them and observing what they did, they’ve made my own work in photography and designing Web graphics much better. I’ve been playing more and more with (it’s basically drag, drop, tweak, publish — I love it) using the lessons these graphic designers taught me by example, so I thought I’d share some of my knowledge with you.

1. White space: It’s your friend. Translation — leave enough blank space around your text and images so nothing looks crowded. I was asked to review someone’s business blog a while back and the first thing I said was: “Add white space — quick!”

2. Photoshop: It’s another friend. It’s very handy for erasing flashbulb flashes against anything with glass (windows, mirrors, walls) or cropping out the wilder sections of someone’s hair.

3. Some things you just can’t erase with software. Unless you want to ruin an image.

4. No.Blurry. Photos. Ever. (As if! *sniffs disdainfully* Check the resolution! That goes for YouTube videos too, people. Don’t make me come over to your blog and whack you upside the head with your smartphone camera.)

5. High-resolution photos are best for projects, but e-mail sometimes balks at larger file sizes. (Hello, Dropbox.)

6. Seek the unique — high angles, low angles, angles in general, whatever works. Striking images are much more likely to snag attention.

7. A title in one color pops out visually if there is a copy of the title in a contrasting color behind it, just out enough to be visible.

8. Caffeine inspires productivity.

9. Chocolate inspires GREAT productivity. (Preferably European chocolate like Merci or Lindt.)

10. Making fresh muffins in the company toaster oven early one morning has people weeping tears of ecstasy and stampeding to the kitchen. (The other occupants of the building: “Hey, what’s that great smell out in the hallway?”)

Have a good holiday season, everybody! Now go off and finish your Christmas shopping this weekend.





Filed under Writing

14 responses to “Top 10 lessons this writer’s learned from graphic designers

  1. Muffins! It can cause a stampede in the hallways. (giggles)
    White space is important. Your eye needs a moment to rest and think once in a while. Work also deserved a “frame” sometimes to show importance or stand out.
    Good advice. (now about that lovely chocolate…)

  2. Please, send emergency chocolate!

  3. Excellent list! I’ll add one tidbit: imgur is my dear friend, especially when all I wish to do is share an image!

  4. As a former graphic designer, I doff my hat to you and this post.

    I would also argue that while a nice glass of Italian wine does not increase productivity, it is a wonderful reward for a productive day. No designer should be without it.


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