How would you explain the visual below if you saw it at an art exhibition? Would you say that a banana is a symbol of global trade or a classic humor device? Or maybe you’d simply say that it’s a duct-taped banana, and we need to understand it literally.
The same confusion happens when it comes to the job of a creative designer. Some see it literally as a designer who is creative and others as a synonym to a marketing designer. Who’s right and who’s wrong?
This article will help you solve the mystery a creative designer is in the industry: who they are and what they do. Moreover, you’ll find out where you should look for such an expert, how much it costs, and get a checklist for the candidate's screening process. Sounds like one heck of an article. We’d better start.
As a start of deciphering creative designers and what they’re about, let’s clearify a simple question: what does this job title mean? If you search for its definition on the internet, you won’t find a unanimous opinion. Every article explains what a creative designer is in its own way and even contradicts others.
“Creative designer — sometimes called a graphic designer or multimedia artist — is a professional who drafts visual illustrations to design other materials like product labels, logos, pamphlets, posters and digital graphics.”
“A creative designer, also known as a graphic designer, is involved with advertising and marketing.”
“A creative designer is someone who uses design skills to promote a company, or its products and services. Creative design positions include graphic designers, industrial designers and multimedia artists.”
So who is a creative designer? To not keep guessing, we’ve interviewed a graphic design expert ― Awesomic’s Best Designer of the Season of autumn 2021, Paul Sidash. As an art critic that helps you understand whether a banana is a masterpiece or just a fruit, Paul has given us his take on the job of creative designers.
Finding the explanation of a creative designer’s job title is a hard thing to do on the internet. As someone who’s working in the industry, how would you define this job title?
“I can see why the contradiction happens. No one has ever established a strict definition, but still, no one shouldn’t. Every company has its own standards, and there are many other nuances that make even a somewhat concrete system very confusing.
Many times when I was talking with creative and art directors, their definition of this job would be a little bit different. But the core remained the same — it’s a designer who makes, edits, and works with banners and other different layouts that may or may not be used as the main marketing device. They’re producing key visuals and other creative materials.
However, I remember seeing lazy recruiters name a job title this way because they thought it’s okay to specify characteristics in such a way. But what they actually wanted was “not a boring designer.”
All in all, it turns out that a creative designer isn’t just a professional with an original vision. Rather, it’s a person that uses this vision for creating and editing marketing materials. It includes branding, identity, templates for graphic elements, and emails.
Okay, the first clue of the mystery is cleared up. Now, let’s move on to the next one, a common misunderstanding of a creative designer’s job. Basically, many people believe that if creative designers work with visual elements, they are the same as graphic designers. But is it so? Or is there actually a difference? To find out the truth, let’s see what Paul has to say.
“Yes, there is a difference. A graphic designer is a big category, and creative designer lies inside this category, alongside marketing, branding, print, visual designers, illustrators, etc.”
All right, so comparing a graphic designer to a creative designer is like saying an orchestra is the same as a guitarist. But what about marketing designers? Another common misconception is that these two are also the same.
“Often HRs and other people would mean the same under the definition of a marketing designer and a creative designer. But marketing designers have more narrow specialization and different responsibilities such as very light copyrighting, creative brainstorms, etc.
If we’re going to differentiate between those, the marketing designer is a position that is more tightly knit to the marketing department. And a creative designer works with different departments, one of which is marketing.”
Moving on in our journey of solving the mystery, we’ve come to the next predicament. How would you know what they actually do at work if a creative designer is such a mysterious and misinterpreted profession? As always, Paul’s here to help.
“As I previously mentioned, creative designers are responsible for creating, editing, and working with a slew of different creative materials. This means that they might even be involved in making a very basic visual identity system because they’re “creative”. They have a wider arrangement of tasks, and they’re not always and not fully tied to the marketing department.
At Awesomic, you can notice that they’re doing exactly the same, but instead, they’re tied to the marketing department of a certain customer. Creative designers at Awesomic often have more skills, which makes them able to close additional customer tasks such as small animations, print materials, and other specific tasks.”
And what’s the result of a creative designer’s work? Let’s take a real example. How would you like a 20% sales growth in just one season? Sounds too good to be true, but it’s fairly possible.
Creative Director Timothy Rose developed an idea of a Thanksgiving football rivalry for a Turkey Bowl between families. This concept promoted a solution ― Nike’s playbook for the ultimate Turkey Bowl that was sold specifically at Dick’s Sporting Goods. As a result, Dick’s holiday sales had a 20% increase alongside a rise in engagement and Nike’s brand promotion.
To summarize Paul’s quote, we can say that the responsibilities of a creative designer differ from company to company. But you can see a standart set of such requirements:
So far, so good, right? The enigma of a creative designer is almost solved. Now, let’s find out where creative designers reside so that you can go there and find yourself the best professional.
Generally, there are three locations you can go to hire creative designers online: professional social media networks, freelance websites, or design subscription services. As each of these platforms has its own pros and cons, they might suit some employers while driving away others. Which one is your perfect match? Let’s find out.
Finding a creative designer on networks like LinkedIn is a fairly easy thing to do. However, if you’re searching for a true professional, prepare to work hard for it.
LinkedIn shows 2.8 million accounts as those that fit your search for a creative designer. However, this number can be easily reduced several times as most of the accounts you find are either creative studios or graphic designers, visual, website, and UI/UX designers. Creative designers are also among them, but their ratio is 49 out of 100 search results.
Still, the number of searches is big enough to find the one you’ll like. But it means you’ll have to go through hundreds or thousands of applicants to find them. So this big talent pool quickly turns into a huge ocean of pages that you need to check and sort.
Moreover, LinkedIn shows you the career path the candidates have taken. But it doesn’t give you any information about their expertise with real-life examples. To find evidence of their real abilities, you need to request portfolios personally from designers or follow links to other websites that have them. This means additional time spent on candidate search.
What’s the best place to find a freelancer? A freelance site, you might say. To find out if it’s so, let’s go into details of such platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.
The talent pool of creative designers on Fiverr is quite unclear. When you type “creative designer” in the search line, you’ll see thousands of results. However, those freelancers aren’t creative designers. Instead, they’re designers with creative visuals in logos, websites, landing pages, or T-shirts making. In other words, on Fiverr, you will only find designers for specific tasks instead of someone with a global vision of the creative process.
Another platform you might consider is Upwork. There, you will be luckier to come across someone who at least accepts the existence of a creative designer job title. The platform has filters to eliminate your search to specific locations or budgets. But it doesn’t have a way of ensuring the designer has enough qualifications to work for you. You can only read their profile description, customers' reviews and follow portfolio links if you’re lucky enough.
Moreover, Upwork offers you a lot of unfit designer accounts that only make it more time-consuming to go through them. In particular, our research has shown that creative designers make only 24% of the talent pool you have to process.
To start working with a creative designer on flat-rate design subscription platforms like Awesomic, you need to follow such steps:
Sounds simple, right? But where are the endless hours of screening and negotiating about price? Well, they don’t exist at flat-rate platforms like Awesomic. You can skip the time-consuming stage of going through candidates because the platform has already done it for you. Awesomic hires only professional designers that undergo a meticulous process of expertise checking. As a result, a team ready to start working for you at once and deliver great results ASAP.
But such an easy hiring process doesn’t mean you can just sit back and get all the results like that. Instead, you can invest the saved time in creating a detailed design brief, providing thorough feedback, and ensuring your collaboration with the designer is effective.
As was mentioned above, the cost you pay to hire creative designers depends on the platform you choose. To be more specific, we’ll see the real examples from each place we’re looking into. However, you have to note that some prices go way beyond what is stated on the website. How so? Let’s find out.
As much as LinkedIn is good at having thousands of creative designer profiles, it’s also known for being mysterious when it comes to prices. In other words, to find out how much it’ll cost you to hire creative designers, you have to contact them directly in private messages or email.
Another common way of checking the approximate price range is going through job postings. Usually, you can see what compensation companies offer for remote or full-time workers. However, it’s not the case with creative designers. Our research of over 200 job postings has found only two that mention specific prices.
Thus, a full-time creative designer’s salary in Singapore is $2000 - $3000/month while it’s $61,000 - $135,000/yr in the USA. So you can see that location matters a lot in pricing for a creative designer’s work. And if you’re hiring a remote worker, you should keep that in mind.
Unlike LinkedIn, Upwork is quite specific with its pricing for creative designers. The hourly rates of researched candidates vary from $5/hr for a junior creative designer to $60/hr for mid-levels to $150/hr for seniors.
However, the actual price of the project you’re hiring for will turn out a lot bigger than you expect. Why? Because Upwork will charge you an additional 23% fee of what you’re paying to the designer. So if your project check is $1000, Upwork will charge you $1230.
Moreover, a designer getting paid for the number of hours they work is very much interested in making this process longer. For business owners, it means not only bigger checks but also a longer turnaround.
So what’s the actual price of a creative designer on Upwork? Let’s calculate it. For instance, you’d like to hire a creative designer for a logo. On average, creating a logo takes 20 hours. So we take the meridian $60/h, multiply it per 20 hours, and add a 23% fee of the sum. As a result, $1200 to pay the designer + $276 as a fee, equals $1476 in total.
But don’t forget to add to the price hours and hours you’ve spent on screening and finding this designer. And most importantly, that’s the price for something as simple as a logo. So more complex projects will cost you way more than $1476.
As Awesomic is a flat-rate subscription platform, the price varies only depending on the package type. There are three tiers you can purchase at Awesomic to hire a creative or graphic designer:
It seems clear, doesn’t it? But are there any additional fees you need to be aware of? Nope, as Awesomic isn't a mediator between a freelance creative designer and a business owner. Rather, it’s a ready-to-use solution that offers you its services with the help of its expert designers.
So when you’ve already decided where to hire a creative designer online and what your budget should be, there’s only one thing left. As you know from the heading, it’s a list of qualities you expect to find in a true professional. Without further ado, here they are.
As creative designers work on numerous aspects of a product, their skill set is vast. However, it can be generalized into such a list:
As creative designers are included in a more general group of graphic design, preferably, they should have a degree in an area connected to design. As to skills, creative designers should have a sense of composition, draft illustrations, create layouts, and understand visual design standards.
Professional creative designers are able to use Adobe Creative Suite, Figma, Microsoft PowerPoint, and CorelDraw. Also, a particular task might require a designer to use video editing software, so if your candidate can do so, that’s a great benefit.
The key to a creative designer’s work is to effectively work together with different professionals to create content for marketing campaigns or customer experience initiatives. It includes working with developers, business analysts, marketing designers, and writers.
Another responsibility of a creative designer is to connect with business owners for discussion of design concepts and requirements. A professional will have skills that allow them to efficiently speak to customers, present and defend design concepts, and execute later iterations.
The creative process is often unstable, but project deadlines are always clear. That’s why a top creative designer is able to adjust to changing workflows while maintaining stable results on time.
To join our team, a designer’s expertise has to start from mid-level. We don’t onboard junior designers as we know that our cliemts need only experts. The creative designers that are a part of Awesomic can understand the composition, coloristic, know the basic Adobe CC package, and are fluent in Figma.
They also have understanding of every other graphic task, such as presentations, certain printing materials, and many others. That's why Awesomic is a versatile platform where one customer can close several tasks.
An experienced creative designer is one that has at least 3 years of working in the industry with design layouts for various media-type content. It is also often preferable for a business to hire creative designers with experience in a related industry such as B2B marketing, advertising, iGaming, or radio broadcasting.
But is it necessary to have 3 years of experience to be a mid-level expert? Of course, it’s not. A mark of 3 years is just a guideline that shows you how long the person has been in the industry. So it means they had enough time to master the major design skills and even more.
It’s important to understand the years of experience as a characteristic that has an effect on the cost of services. However, it’s not always the case. You can become a professional even in less time, or it might take you more than 5 years to get to a mid-level designer.
So if you come across a creative designer with relatively little experience but excellent skills, in reality, their paycheck might be bigger than their experience.
So have you been able to solve the riddle? We hope you were. Now creative designers aren’t such a mysterious and confusing job title. Rather, it’s a profession that can help your business grow with the help of visuals that broadcast your brand message and appeal to your audience.
If you want to get yourself such a professional, this article has given you all the clues to the map. Now, it’s your time to get on board and start the journey. Are you in?