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How would you like to order your graphic design (you can only pick 2 options); fast and cheap, fast and great, fast and free, cheap and great, cheap and free, cheap and fast, great and cheap, great and free, great and fast, free and fast, free and cheap, or free and great? Would you like a side of innovative design or paper stocks that will wow your clients?

Designer: Colin Harman

This great Venn diagram poster by designer Colin Harman has sparked quite the talk on the internet and it very well should. In the design world, we are often first asked two questions, “when will it be completed” and “how much is it going to cost me?” Not that these are bad questions because they are very relevant, but the reality is, that good design can unfortunately never be a combination of two of these categories let alone all four.

Now you are probably asking yourself, why can’t I have a combination of the two? This is because something WILL have to be sacrificed, unfortunately, it is almost always the design. If it’s fast and cheap, good luck on getting a well-thought-out design that will truly speak to your audience. If it’s cheap and great, well I guess I would like to meet the designer who is doing that because chances are that they are selling themselves short. If the word free is mentioned… well… please just don’t do that.

Great design takes time, planning, and a reasonable budget. Many clients are unwilling to pay for the planning process however, it is very necessary to ensure that the best design ideas are being explored. Time is also essential, applying the latest techniques and fine-tuning the smallest details does take time. Planning and time is sometimes the difference between, for example, an everyday logo and a logo that will stun thousands and attract new customers. While attending design school, before we were allowed to even touch our computers, it was required that we did 150-200 hand-drawn sketches of the project to completely explore every option available. Sometimes we would have to further refine the sketches before moving to the computer. However, these sketches truly funneled us into one design which later was brought to life on the computer and showcases our strongest talents and abilities.

For the free part of this whole thing… let me just go back to the famous saying “you get what you pay for.” This is true for the design world as well. There are many students that are willing to do free work, but they are students. Don’t get me wrong, there are many great and talented students attending some of the best design schools, but you do pay for the experience. Finding designers that truly understand the latest trends, effectively bring them to life, explore new options, understand the production process, think outside the box and wow clients are priceless.

Furthermore, great graphic design is more a combination of time, planning, talented designers and a reasonable budget. This poster truly shows the creative limitations that designers are faced with each day and the sacrifices that they are forced into. Next time you are in need of graphic design, present the designer with time to plan, explore all options, carry out the design, and a well thought out budget, I almost guarantee that you will be left with one word on your mind… “WOW.”

Michele Allen

With over 30 years of design and marketing experience, I founded Crux in 2005, a 360° Creative and Marketing Agency, catering to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and non-profits. Specializing in experiential spaces, museums, brand development, and digital marketing, I excel in crafting memorable experiences while emphasizing the significance of authentic brand communication. I offer expertise in Brand Development, Trade Show Exhibits, Museums, Corporate Spaces, Interactives & VR/AR, and Digital Marketing, committed to tailored support and guidance.