Tara Roskell is a freelance graphic designer and this week she was kind enough to let us quiz her about everything from her to brilliant blogs to how you should design a logo. So to find out how best to work with a graphic designer and get the most from their designs, this is well worth a read.
Q: So Tara, you’ve been working in graphic design for over 20 years. How did you first get into it?
A: It’s actually just under 20 years (wow I feel old). I had always wanted to do something to do with art from an age as early as 5. I thought at first I would be a fine artist, but after doing a course in General Art and Design at College I decided to go the Graphic Design route and went on to do an HND in Graphic Design. That was back when things were only just moving over from drawing boards to computers. There were only a few little black and white Macs shared between a lot of students.
My first job was actually working at the same college designing the marketing material. From there I worked for various local design agencies around Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire to gain a good knowledge of the business. After about 12 years myself and a partner got backed to set up a design studio within a repro house. When my business partner (who did the sales) decided to move abroad I decided to leave the business and went freelance. Initially this involved a lot of working in-house at design agencies but now I do all my work from home and work for both agencies and direct for companies needing design work.
Q: As a graphic designer is it possible to develop an individual style or is your work subject to the briefs you are given by clients?
A: I think it is better for a graphic designer not to develop a style. The style should be guided by the type of look needed for each different client. This is very different from say an illustrator who needs to develop one or more distinct styles to sell themselves and their work.
Q: On your blog (www.graphicdesignblog.co.uk) you give a thorough description of how you came up with a logo for the charity ‘Beach within Reach’. Do you use the same process for all your clients?
A: Yes its pretty much the same for all clients. For some local clients I am more likely to go in and see them or talk on the phone and do the question and answering verbally in order to create a brief. Depending on the client and the number of people involved the process may be longer, a case of tweaking until the client is happy with the final result.
Q: At the moment we are running a competition for charities to win £500 worth of promotional clothing which they can print their logo on. What would you say an logo must have to effectively advertise a charity?
A: I think simplicity is the key. You want a logo that can be (over time) recognised at a glance. Although full colour printing is now much cheaper and anything can be done online, I think restricting a logo to 2 colours usually works best. If your logo doesn’t immediately say what the charity does (which of course it can’t always do) a short snappy strapline may be used with a logo. Don’t leave someone guessing what your charity or company does.
Q: What would be your top tips for any charities looking to work with a graphic designer to realise a design for their organisation?
A: Before you even talk to a designer sit down yourself and work out what sort of thing you are looking for. I don’t mean the design but the “feel” of the logo, should it be formal or friendly, colourful or subdued. Take a look at the list of questions I used and see if you can answer them before approaching your graphic designer. If you can, keep hold of any literature or online images which give the “feel” that you want to portray. The problem with just telling your designer the type of look you want is that two people can interpret things very differently, my idea of formal may be different to yours. Like they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I must emphasise though this is not to say to your designer I want a logo that looks like that, it’s just to give them your thoughts on direction.
Q: You’ve recently set up a new blog called ideasuploaded.com. What is this website all about?
A: I have always dabbled in personal projects including character design and invention ideas. I set up ideasuploaded to share any information I find, about how to bring an idea to market. Though currently the blog is quite new I already have several interviews with successful inventors with more on the way.