So You Think You Can Design?

in Branding Strategy & Trends | by Ryan Krail

As the Art Director at Sparxoo, I’m the go-to guy for all of your creative needs, wants, and desires (don’t even think about it). My design experience ranges from brand identity, web design, packaging, video editing and print advertising.

Just the other day someone asked me what are my “pet peeves” when working with new designers and young creatives. I realized these so-called pet peeves are actually important lessons for all creatives entering an agency environment. I don’t mean for these to be judgmental or nit-picky; they’re just friendly tips from a fellow designer. I sure wish somebody had told me these back in my day.

1. Ugly on the Inside: Organization

For your sake, your team members’ and your clients’ sake, everything you create must be simple, clean and easy to find. Within every design, there are components, layers, and elements that should always be organized. The worst thing a designer can do is pile a bunch of layers on top of each other for no name or reason. Too many people other than designers will be using the source file (copywriters, developers, etc). Use a hierarchy and naming system that is consistent across projects and the entire team understands.

2. Baffled by Basics: Knowledge

Please know the difference between RGB and CMYK! These are lessons you must have learned in Intro to Design. Whether it’s designing for print versus digital, setting up a document to be printed (bleed, dimensions, saving the right file, 72 vs. 300 DPI). All of these components are necessary to understand before any design project can begin.

3. Clueless with Clients: Objectives

Of course designers can create work that they think is pretty cool, but too many do not know how to design for a client in mind. This means being art agnostic and truly wanting to understand the client’s goals, objectives, insights and how your creativity can make a difference. The question is not do you like it, but is it truly right for the client?

4. Can’t Explain Elements: Reasoning

Any client wants to know why you chose this, why you did that, and why it doesn’t look like this. If you can’t explain the thought process behind your work and articulate why is it valuable in terms a client can understand, then you are guilty of another designer pet peeve. Stand by your design when a client says he or she does not like a color or element in your work. If you don’t have any reasoning behind your designs, then it’s probably time to get back to the drawing board.

5. Standard is not Sexy: Innovation

All designers have their go-to routine and habits when it comes to creating their work. A big pet peeve is someone who is not willing to step outside of his or her comfort zone to become a better designer. Take the time and effort to try new things. Install additional plugins that make designing projects faster. Continuously find ways to be on top of trends, new tools, new versions, and most importantly using the right program no matter how much you love Microsoft Paint.


Final Words of Wisdom:

Find a mentor or someone with experience. Additional guidance can always be found online such as watching tutorials (, or by reading articles ( Never stop learning.