Graphic Design Isn’t All About Making Things Look Pretty
Every business, whether micro or enterprise, needs to be recognizable, which means branding, design, and style. Today, our new partner, an Israeli graphic and product designer Yael Shapiro from YDesign Studio answers our questions.
Liz: What brought you to the world of design?
Yael: I’ve never had any doubts about what I want to do with my life. As a child, I loved the arts and went to a special art school for six years. After that, I wanted to study at the Moscow Print University in Russia but my parents couldn’t afford that. So, I entered the Graphic Design Faculty of the Ivanovo Arts College. My aunt lived in Ivanovo, so I could stay at her place and didn’t have to pay rent. Studying in Ivanovo turned out to be a great choice – I learned from fabulous artists and designers!
After graduating from college, I worked as a graphic designer for several companies in Russia. Then I moved to Israel, worked for various businesses there and founded my own design studio two years ago.
Liz: You have a truly vast portfolio that ranges from logos and website designs to print products and toys. What are your favorite formats?
Yael: I love trying out new things. I’ve been working in the design industry for the past 15 years and I’ve done tons of projects. I’ve designed billboard ads, print products, packaging, illustrations, prints for fabrics, and even designed theatrical decorations. In addition to that, I’ve done numerous branding projects.
Depending on the period of my life, I enjoyed different types of work most. Four years ago a client asked me to format a book. I tried it and loved it. So, at the moment, I’d say that book and magazine design is my favorite thing to do. This doesn’t mean that I reject other projects, though. For example, I have a client with whom I’ve been working for the past 1.5 years drawing children’s book illustration and designing toy packaging. And that’s my favorite client. We have a very special relationship.
Perhaps, some designers will say that I try to do too much and that I should concentrate on one or two lines of business only. But at the moment I don’t feel I can do that – all the projects I work on are so much fun!
Liz: I just love your color schemes. How do you develop them?
Yael: Thank you! You’re not the first person to mention that.
I think, my education and background help me work with colors. My mother is an architect, artist and painting teacher. She explained the color theory to me when I was a little girl and we practiced mixing and using colors. Then I studied it deeper at college. The more I practiced, the more intuitive my choices of colors became. So now I simply feel which color to go for. Besides, I’m a synesthete, which means I associate colors with different letters, days of the week, and so on.
Liz: These days there are lots of so-called designers who use stock graphics as the main elements of their designs. What are your feelings on the subject?
Yael: Now, this is a good question. The short answer is that it depends on the type of work. I think that sometimes it’s OK to do that and sometimes it’s bad taste and even cheating.
I think it’s fine to use stock graphics in general, and even as main elements, when your client is a small local business that doesn’t care about branding – all they need are 1,000 flyers for the minimum price. These flyers are going to be distributed locally and won’t ever leave the neighborhood. Often, businesses like that don’t have the budget to order custom graphics or pay for a photoshoot – they just need to notify the local community about a discount or an event. When that’s the case, using stock graphics is the best solution for both the business and the designer. I mean, why dress up for the royal wedding when all you want to do is walk your dog?
But if we talk about logo design, then using stock graphics is counterproductive. It actually kills the whole idea behind a logo. A logo is something your clients instantly recognize you by. It has to communicate your message and be easy to imprint into your customers’ minds. Now ask yourself – how can your business become recognizable if your logo is using the same image as dozens of other companies? Moreover, a proper logo has to communicate a message to your target audience and symbolize your business.
To cut a long story short, designers who advertise themselves as logo gurus while they simply download a picture from a stock site, add your business name and charge through the roof for that not only cheat. They also damage your business and branding.
Liz: Let’s talk a bit more about the dangers for the client when he or she works with such “designers”.
Yael: Oh, don’t get me started! At the very least, the client will waste money because logo design isn’t cheap. Even if you find someone who offers to make you a logo for a fraction of the standard price, know that you’re being deceived. I remember how I saw someone offer ridiculously cheap logo design in a Facebook group. So I asked her if she could afford such low prices. She answered that for that price she simply took an image from a stock site and added then customer’s business name to it. But for that kind of “work”, her price was too high! I mean, she’d spend like 10 minutes on the job, yet she charged the price of 2-3 hours for that.
But the real danger of using such logos is damage to the brand. I mean, you create a logo not because you want a pretty picture – you need it to attract clients, make them trust your business, communicate your business values, and more. How can an abstract stock graphic achieve all that? But the average small business client evaluates a logo based on personal preferences: if it looks pretty, it’s good.
Liz: There are lots of websites where people can design pretty much anything. So why should businesses hire a professional designer when they can simply go to Canva or PixTeller?
Yael: Because contrary to what many people think, graphic design isn’t all about making things look pretty. Design has to provide working solutions and work towards helping clients reach their goals. For instance, a business needs to create a flyer that will make potential clients call and order whatever you’re selling. If you don’t have any knowledge about composition, color, fonts, general idea, and how to manipulate the viewer’s eye to evoke emotions, you can’t create a working solution. Yes, you will be able to create a pretty picture you’ll like, but your potential client won’t be touched by it at all.
Liz: Is there a phrase you love hearing from your clients?
Yael: I think “Oh wow! This looks fantastic, let’s use it!” is my absolute favorite!
If you’re looking for a fabulous designer to work on your next project, develop your brand, or provide a review of your existing graphics, get in touch! Yael is here to help.