A Guide to Hiring the Right Designer for Your Print Shop
The following post was originally published by Wide-format Impressions. To read more of their content, subscribe to their newsletter, Wide-Format Impressions.
How can you attract creative talent in a strong labor market, especially one where so many workers can work remotely? If having an in-house design staff is new to your print shop, know that hiring for a creative position is different than hiring for other types of positions. Not sure where to start? Here are tips on how to hire the right designer for your business.
First, you should identify the type of designer you need, let's differentiate below:
A textile designer specializes in pattern design and putting designs in repeat correctly. They also understand fabric construction and have strong material knowledge.
A graphic designer creates visuals for use in digital or print projects. They have a strong understanding of typography and how to organize information visually to communicate a message and brand.
Web designers specialize in the interfaces of websites. They create the layout and design of how a website will look. They often work with web developers who code a website, so it functions properly.
User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers specialize in how users interact with a digital product. A UX designer thinks about the end user first and what the experience of a website or app is like. The UI designer creates the interface the user is experiencing.
Once you’ve determined the type of designer (or designers), post a job listing. Include what kind of designer you need, as well as the software they will be using.
Now when it comes time to interview, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Look at Their Portfolio
You can look at an online portfolio, especially as you do initial assessments of resumes, but ask a candidate to present their portfolio during an interview. They may bring physical examples such as printed items, present their portfolio on a tablet or laptop, or both. When viewing a portfolio, let the designer take the lead and show you their work, explaining the different projects. Talk about the work as you go and ask questions such as:
- What problem were you asked to solve for the client?
- What was the revision process like for this particular project?
- What software did you use to execute this project?
Looking at a portfolio with a designer helps you get a sense of their skill set, aesthetic, and ability to communicate their ideas.
Ask About Collaborations
A good designer needs to be able to communicate about their work, whether to a client or just their boss. For example, they should be able to explain to clients why their logo should be smaller or what they are communicating with the choice of type or color. There is a misconception sometimes that design is all a matter of taste. That’s not true. Design principles exist for a reason, and decisions are made purposefully. A good designer should be confident in explaining their work.
Talk to Their References
This is valuable no matter what position you’re hiring for, but when hiring a designer, it’s essential to ask how they work with others and how they respond to criticism. Creative work can often feel personal. A designer who gets defensive and doesn’t want to make changes may not be a good fit for your environment, even if their portfolio is amazing. The best place to find out how a designer works is to ask people who have worked with them.
Value Good Design and Compensate For It
Design is as valuable a part of your business as any other. Without good design, there is nothing for your salespeople to sell and nothing to print. With that in mind, be sure you are compensating your designers fairly. No one wants to be undervalued, and in a competitive job market, if you undervalue design, you’ll miss out on talented candidates. In the end, that costs you money. If you are unsure about a typical salary for your area, research before posting the job opening.
Kristen Dettoni is the founder and CEO of Design Pool LLC, the only pattern library created exclusively for interior designers. Since 1996, Kristen has worked for mills throughout North America, designing fabrics for automobiles, furniture, and home furnishings. She developed the first sustainable upholstery fabric for office interiors, the first sustainable upholstery fabric for automotive interiors, and was awarded a patent for automotive suspension seating. Kristen believes strongly in the power of good design to transform our environments and experiences.