Graphic Design Q&A: Thoughts on Affinity, Client Perceptions of Open Source software, + More

Graphic Design Q&A: Thoughts on Affinity, Client Perceptions of Open Source software, + More 1024 602 Nick Saporito

Today I’ll be answering some design-related questions posed by followers of the Logos By Nick Youtube channel. This is something I did a month or so back and it got a great response on Youtube, so I figured I’d do another one.

The video at the top of the page contains all of the questions and answers, but here they are with timestamps and transcripts if needed…

Do you need to have drawing skills as a graphic designer? (00:14)

Well, it does help, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary. It mostly depends on what kind of design work you like to do. If you’re into hand lettering and character illustration, that will obviously require drawing skills. Other things like designing a brochure or touching up a photo — stuff like that doesn’t really require much drawing skills.

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What are your expectations for the next version of Inkscape? (00:38)

I don’t really have anything in mind that I expect from Inkscape. It’s already a pretty good tool considering it’s free and made by volunteers. It would be great to see support for CMYK, but I’ve done fine without it so far, so it’s not the end of the world if it never happens. I would just expect to see a more stable release with less glitching and crashing.

At what point would you recommend paying for Photoshop instead of using GIMP? (01:01)

Well, everybody’s needs are different when it comes to design, so it depends on what your needs are personally and what type of design work you’d like to do. If this is just a hobby for you, or if you use design in a supplemental kind of way – for example let’s say you’re a Youtuber and you just need to design thumbnails for your videos – GIMP is probably all you’ll ever need, so I wouldn’t buy Photoshop unless it were financially practical to do so.

But if you’re serious about graphic design as a career, I’d recommend buying and learning it as soon as you can afford it. Even if you just want to freelance and use the open source software like I do, at some point you’re going to run into some kind of problem where you need Adobe software, even if it’s just a client who wants you to work with their Adobe file, or they request an Adobe file from you. And although you can technically open and create these file formats with the open source alternatives, sometimes things get lost in translation when you’re working cross-platform, so having access to the Adobe suite will just make your life so much easier.

Clients’ perception of open source software? (02:07)

Clients really don’t care what tools you use to get the work done, all they care about is whether or not you can get the work done, and just how good the work is. That’s mostly how you’ll be judged as a freelancer; not by the tools you use. And I think that’s true for most industries as well.

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If I were going to hire a baker to make a wedding cake, I wouldn’t care at all what tools they’re using to make it. If they do nice work and the cake is good then they could be using an Easy Bake Oven for all I care. And that’s pretty much true for graphic design as well. You have to remember that clients comes to you for your expertise and your knowledge. From their perspective, you’re the professional and you know better than they do, so they defer to you, not the other way around.

What’s the hardest thing to design when it comes to client work and why? (02:52)

Usually infographics, reports, graphs, white papers. That sort of thing. Anything with a lot of data and information that you have to sift through an organize and figure out a way to put it all together and visualize it in a way that looks nice. For example, I’ve had clients send me pages and pages of statistics and data that has notes scribbled everywhere, and just having to organize it is a headache in and of itself. I’m at a point now where I just don’t take on those projects any more because it isn’t worth the stress.

Would you say taking graphic design classes are worth it, or is it better to learn by trial and error? (03:30)

I think it’s important to utilize both in some capacity. Experience is always the best teacher, but if you can afford to take classes and it’s financially practical for you to do so, then I would absolutely take advantage of that.

What’s the best way to get paid as a freelancer? (03:48)

I like to use PayPal and Square. PayPal is good because most people who do business online have PayPal accounts and that’s how they prefer to pay, but for whatever reason PayPal doesn’t work in every country, so I’ve found that Square handles international payments much more reliably.

What school subject, other than art, would be helpful as far as graphic design goes? (04:09)

I think the most important skill set you can learn as a graphic designer is marketing because you’re usually going to be asked to design things in a marketing context. For example, things like brochures, advertisements, logos and branding – the purpose of all of these things is to communicate a message about a product or service to a specific audience, so having an understanding of how that all works is going to help you tremendously as a designer.

Have you used Affinity Designer and if so what are your thoughts? (04:40)

No, I haven’t tried Affinity yet but I’ve been hearing a lot about it and it seems intriguing. But to be honest, I already have my hands full with the open source software and the Adobe suite, so I don’t really have much bandwidth for learning new software unless it serves some kind of unique need that the other tools don’t.

Thank you all for your questions! If you have any questions you’d like answered in a future video, please leave a comment below. I’m trying to encourage more engagement with this blog, so questions posted here will be given priority.

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Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design. A full portfolio and information regarding services offered can be found at LogosByNick.com.

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5 comments
  • iren ciolac

    Hello again,

    Firstly , I think this is a great ideea – to answer publicly the questions of some of us , so many of them can take advantage of your responses and learn something useful.
    Secondly , I must say that I appreciate your way of talking , how you pronounce clearly every word , so people who is not a native english can also benefit. Thank you for that !

    And I have a problem that I would be grateful to get an answer // advice from you :
    I have account on ‘freelancer.com’ ; I entered several contests but I only won in 2(two) cases;( I admit that I am not a professional as yet, but also there are several designers outthere who stay on a lower level than me).
    My problem and question is :
    – how could you possibly avoid the scammers ?? I work several hours to prepare my proposal , I upload my entry and .. nothing happens, the contest holder disapear, vanish, get in the blue.. many times it shows to be a designer himself – I presume he takes some inspiration from our works and then leave us in the haze; I have experienced this more than 50% of my entries.

    Thank you for your time !

    • Nick Saporito

      Hi Iren, design contests are a waste of time in my experience. You’re basically working for free. I would focus on finding actual paying gigs. If you can’t get paid jobs, you’d be much better off spending that time creating content and learning how to promote yourself instead. This is what I do. It’s much better than relying on these third-party sites, and it’s easy to make additional income as well from Youtube ads and selling ebooks and templates like I do.

    • Nick Saporito

      Good question. There’s a few options…

      1.) This is what I do – I make the design in Inkscape, then take the final file and use Illustrator to prepare it for print.

      2.) Output the final file as a PDF document, then open it with Scribus (open source) to convert it to CMYK color format. I did a tutorial on this if you’d like to look it up.

      2.) Just send in the file in RGB format, which I’ve done in the past as well. Print shops like VistaPrint do an excellent job of converting RGB files, but not all print shops are like that so I’d use caution with this last option.

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