David Airey is an independent graphic designer working with companies of all sizes since 2005.

Where to find the right designer

I often hear clients mention the difficulty of finding good designers for their budget. It’s one of the main reasons given by clients who get sucked into the quagmire of design contest websites.

The reality is there are thousands of designers available at every level of cost, from a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands.

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Where to look

The more effort a client puts into finding the right designer, the more likely he or she will be to receive the standard of design they deserve. I’m often approached by potential clients that need work I don’t specialise in, so I’ve collated a few resources I hope will help.

Creative Review. One of the design profession’s leading publications.
Behance. A portfolio network where designers show-off their skills.
LinkedIn. Allows designers to display their Behance portfolios on their LinkedIn profiles.
THE DRUM. News, information, jobs, a comprehensive directory, and more.
FormFiftyFive. Design inspiration from around the world.
AIGA. US-centric, but designers and clients don’t need to be in the same country.
Graphic Artists Guild. Similar to AIGA, I think, only smaller.
Twitter. You could search for a relevant term, or ask an influential “tweeter” to post a request.
Identity Designed. Brand identity case studies from designers across the globe.
Dribbble. A “show and tell for creatives.”
Forrst. Similar to Dribbble in some ways.
Coroflot. Portfolios showcasing a wide range of creative specialities.
Creativepool. Jobs, portfolios, and freelancers.
Design Week. A professional publication with news and features.
Cargo. A popular portfolio platform with a “featured sites” showcase.
Graphic BirdWatching. Promotion of female graphic designers everywhere.
Design blogs. Those are just a few of the ones I like visiting.

Additionally, it can be a good idea for clients to contact companies that have distinctive brand identities, websites, etc. No harm in asking who created the work. Designers, too, can be a great source of referrals, even if they don’t specialise in the work that’s sought after. The designers I know are happy to recommend their competitors. We’re nice like that.

Further resources
A Client’s Guide to Design, from AIGA (PDF download).
Design Business and Ethics, from AIGA.

Thanks to everyone who offered “where to look” suggestions on Google+ and Twitter. If you’ve any other useful sources, or thoughts on those listed, feel free to comment.

Photo via Thinkstock

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14 comments about “Where to find the right designer”

  1. Nice list, David, I certainly find LinkedIn very useful for searching for professionals in many fields. And, of the design sites I think Behance takes a lot of beating.

  2. Thanks David for this pretty exhaustive list.
    It is quite useful and interesting for designers too…

  3. Comprehensive list, but since LinkedIn has made it on it, you should add Zerply too (http://www.zerply.com) – way better than LinkedIn. It’s growing super fast and their new search http://www.zerply.com/find is fantastic.

    I am no affiliated with them in any way. I’ve been a user for about 5-6 months and a few clients have found me through this service already, even before the recent ‘boom’ of new users they’ve experienced after 500startups demo day and what not.

  4. And for Belgium this is http://www.creativeskills.be.

  5. David,

    Fantastic post with plenty of resources. Many of those are very popular here in the US. And I agreeā€”the more effort a client puts into finding the right designer, the more it will pay off.

    Besides those online communities and portfolio sites, I encourage people to ask around! I’d like to add that most designers (all of who I know) work within a network of other design, marketing or advertising professionals. Chances are you may know someone who works in a related field and in turn, they may know a designer they like or a resource that has been good for them.

    If you believe in your company’s brand or message and work hard to develop and sustain it, then why should developing an appropriate identity or brand design that helps drive your success be considered any less important, or hold any less value? Designers help put a “face” on a business and give it a personality, so it would be wise to put an effort into finding the right designer who will help you achieve your goals and position you where you want to be.

    Whether it’s local, national or global, the design community thrives on word-of-mouth and referrals, and it’s a matter of working with a designer who suits your needs and will work closely with you to tailor a unique solution for you. That creates value you cannot get with a crowdsourcing experience.

  6. I think the real difficulty is for small to medium sized organisations to find a good designer to develop a relationship with. Many talented designers are poor at communicating what precisely the client will be receiving, and the relationship breaks down because of misunderstandings over costs, service etc. Unfortunately a wonderful portfolio on behance is not going demonstrate what the working relationship is going to be like.

    I think that some smaller businesses are attracted to crowdsourcing because they feel that they know precisely how much work is going to cost. But they really miss out on having better design and a real commitment and service from a designer. When budgets are tight, talking through the terms and conditions at the beginning to establish the ground rules so that both parties know what to expect is invaluable.

    And I think there’s nothing quite like personal recommendation.

  7. A good post David; indeed a problem for many companies here in the UK as there are thousands of designers.

    I would also like to suggest ourselves as a ‘resource’ as we work with designers all around the UK – and are non bias :)

  8. I see Julie’s point on the working relationship. In my opinion, because of that point, I’ve felt that showcasing a small gallery of work alone doesn’t give any client the opportunity to see the many things that go on underneath the finished results.

    Things like, what the relationship of working with the designer was like, how simple or complex the process was, how much effort, time, and money went into the project, and a former client’s feedback can help others see how that designer can handle their projects.

    I’m slowly building my portfolio but I do have it designed so that a client has the option to read the case study for each project to see the working relationship with me and my client’s testimonial. Will that make or break my portfolio? I’m not entirely too sure what will happen, but I do want to give others the convenience just in case.

  9. Well… too bad that none of those are located in sweden. ;( But it’s okay, if you try hard enough you tend to find them anyway. I usually just look for the guy with a macbook at the local coffe shop.

  10. Nice list! Depends on what needs designed though — prefer http://sortfolio.com/ for web designer seeking, though I’ve mostly resorted to using twitter to find most lately :)

  11. Great list of resources. I too have found that there a thousands of designers in the UK and to find one that can design and devlop a solution thats catered to your specific needs. well lets just say its a mine feild. The resource list sure makes it easier and a definate step in the right direction to finding the right designer for your partiqular needs. Great post :)

  12. Excellent list. Just applied to join Graphic Birdwatching! :D

  13. Great point, Julie. And Jamie, nice plan of action. Testimonials and an extra insight into the design process go a long way from my experience.

  14. Hi David,

    Thanks for the mention.

    Mike
    Creativepool

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