How to Speak to a Graphic Designer: The Language of Graphic Design

2d cartoon styled male talking to a female

How to Speak to a Graphic Designer: The Language of Graphic Design

Graphic Design Language For Common Folks

When working with artists in any industry, there is usually a specific language used to communicate with them. And the graphic design industry is no different! Here at VMP, we love our graphic designers. They are creative, inspired people who can sometimes frustrate you. Not because they keep taping your phone handset to the keypad, or stealing your scissors, or breaking your stuff, although that is annoying, but because graphic designers speak a different language to us common folk. Here’s a quick guide on how to speak the language of graphic design to help you create a good working relationship to achieve your final design.

It’s a different language

Not completely, but it’s in the detail. How you phrase your thoughts can dramatically help or hinder the result your graphic designer produces. Stay away from vague words like modern, fresh, different and simple. These words are too broad for a graphic designer to make confident changes, and unfortunately are servery overused. Make yourself clear, when suggesting you want something simple, suggest what you think simple means, maybe it means less blue, or a less fancy font. Don’t be afraid to get descriptive and detailed with your language, it helps the designer get a good visual in their own head. The more quality information you can give them the easier it will be for them to create your vision.

Example A

One of the best ways to depict your vision to a graphic designer is to give them real visual guides. That’s not saying you want to copy something you like, it means you want to take inspiration from an element of another project. This isn’t a bad thing, and a good graphic designer can take your many pieces of inspiration and turn it into your own creation and vision. Alternatively, you can sketch or take photos of what you’re imagining. This gives the designer clear guidelines to what you want to create.

Be nice, but not that nice

No one wants to be put down or told that what they’ve created sucks (even if it does suck). This is especially important for Graphic Designers because graphic design is personal, it’s artistic, and negative language can make your designer feel personally targeted. At the same time, if something needs to change you need to tell them, so make it constructive.

Keep away from personal comments like “Why is that there/like that?” or “I don’t like this.” Steer more towards descriptive feedback like “How about removing that,” or “Can we change this”, it will make your designer feel less targeted and more directed. If you’re still struggling, ask your designer about their process and ideas, this will help you both understand why the designer is designing the way they are and you can smooth out any miscommunications. Just like any relationship, the more you listen to each other and discuss problems the better you will work together.

Take a moment

There’s nothing worse for our Graphic Designers to work all day on a projects feedback, only to find that the client has changed their minds again and wants something completely different. Feedback and changes are fine, constant, scattered feedback isn’t. When you receive your draft, note the changes you want, then take a moment, step back, have a cup of tea, sharpen your pencils or work on another project, just do something that draws your focus away. When you come back to the draft, you’ll notice things you didn’t the first time around, then when you send your feedback to the designer it’s all there at once. Not 9 different emails over the space of a day.

This goes for group feedback too. If you get feedback from several colleagues, make sure you check over the notes before handing them over to the graphic designer. It can be frustrating to receive a large document with multiple changes stating the same thing over and over, or conflicting feedback or shorthand that your colleagues would understand, but not your graphic designer.

Here are VMP, we love our graphic designers, even after they eat all the redskins in the lolly jar.  These points should help the next time you collaborate with a graphic designer.  Remember to be clear, positive and open. Creative ideas can be difficult to translate, and even if your draft doesn’t look like your vision, with some good dialogue and communication you can achieve a great result.


Fri, 24/07/2015 – 3:35pm


VMP is a Brisbane video production house which specialises in many forms of media production.  Our services range from television commercials to promotional videos, corporate videos, online video production, e-learning projects and more (see our recent projects). Delivering quality screen productions for over 20 years, VMP is one of Brisbane’s leading video and film production companies. We are your one-stop shop for corporate video production in Brisbane. For more information, quote or just a chat about how we can deliver your message more effectively, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07 3324 0900 or send us your enquiries.