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From Concept to Completion. Creative Advertising and Graphic Design Services.

Top 10 Things Designers Hate Number 2, or: The Great File Caper

We hope you’re as excited as we are to be getting to the top 2 on this list! We’ve covered rate cards, too much text, and all kinds of great stuff about fonts. We’re now approaching the two most difficult problems that designers encounter with clients—but never fear! We’ve got the scoop on how to avoid these snafus and keep your process running smoothly. The number 2 thing designers hate is when a client says…

2) “My last designer was terrible! She wouldn’t give me the design files!”

Uh-oh! When we hear those words we know there’s trouble a-brewing—because we won’t give you those files, either. Image courtesy of

Uh-oh! When we hear those words we know there’s trouble a-brewing—because we won’t give you those files, either. Image courtesy of

Occasionally, a client may believe that he is buying not just a logo or ad, but also all the ad’s component parts and the right to make changes at will. The client may ask the designer to create the artwork in Microsoft Word, or simply to share the InDesign or Quark files so it is easier for the client to make adjustments himself.

This is generally not something a designer will do. In most design contracts, clients own the final artwork, but not the “working files” or drafts. While a designer will be happy to collaborate with a client on making changes until the final design is satisfactory to both parties, the majority of designers will not allow a client the right to make changes to a completed design.

There are many reasons for this! First is professional pride: designers want to prevent their painstakingly crafted artwork from being altered. A client is not likely to know as much about composition, fonts, or graphics as a trained graphic designer, and that can lead to oddly stretched or pixelated images and strangely composed ads. We have our reputations to think about, after all!

Maintaining ownership of working files is also good business sense: if a client believes that he or she can simply re-adjust the same ad over and over, then why go back to the designer for a fresh new ad campaign? (of course, wouldn’t you rather have a shiny new design?!) In addition, there are some potential licensing issues. Most images are copyrighted.  If a client gives a designer a photo for their ad, then the photo continues to belong to the client. But if a designer acquires fonts or images elsewhere, then they have the right to sell the final product, but they may not have the legal right to sell you the individual parts.

Understanding what you are (and are not) buying from a designer is an important part of maintaining a positive working relationship. Many conflicts between designer and client can be avoided if ownership and the process are discussed beforehand! Then everyone knows what to expect, and you’re all happy…just like this puppy in a bucket!

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate #9: “Borrowed” Images

Welcome back to the top 10 Things Designers Hate-and how to avoid them! Last time, we looked at ads with too much text! Today we’re looking at:

9) “Borrowed” Images

You found this picture online that would be perfect for your ad! We agree that it is really nice! The only problem is, it doesn’t belong to you. Most images online are created, and therefore owned, by someone else. There are exceptions to this rule, but it can be tricky!

Look, a handy flow chart! Image courtesy of

Look, a handy flow chart! Image courtesy of

In most cases it is best to assume that taking an image straight from the web and using it in your ad will infringe on copyright, and is therefore illegal. When you can, try to use images that you own, like photographs of your business or the products you sell. You can also work with your designer to generate a graphic or find a (public domain) image for you!

If there’s something you found online that you just can’t live without, it is sometimes possible to reach out to the owner and try to pay for its use. But if you want something that really stands out and says “you” to your clients, it’s generally better to use something unique.

This issue sometimes leads to the instruction, “I want it to look just like this other ad, but don’t copy it! The same; but not too much!” We want you to have what you want—but designers are artists, and they won’t be happy to copy other artists’ work. Plus, copying another business’s ad concept can get you into hot water with websites like this one, which pokes fun at “copycat” ads.

Instead, figure out what it is that you like about the image you want copied—is it the colors? The use of certain techniques like line-drawing? Talk to your designer about how to incorporate these elements into a brand-new design that will be specific to your business!

This Jeep ad is a great example of a unique, creative ad that uses images belonging to the company! It also sticks with our #10 rule: minimize text! Image courtesy of

This Land Rover ad is a great example of a unique, creative ad that uses images belonging to the company! It also sticks with our #10 rule: minimize text! Image courtesy of

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Your Easy Guide to Copyrights and Trademarks

Business Tips and Trends

Are you confused about the differences between those tiny symbols you see next to logos and images (©, TM, ®)?

A copyright is a form of legal protection granted by U.S. federal law to protect the authors (in our case, artists) of “original works of authorship” like paintings, books, logos, and photographs. A copyright is automatic at the time you create your work and make it available to the public. Copyright uses the symbol ©, which can be placed on the piece of work you created, without registering the symbol. You don’t need to register the work but there are advantages in doing so. A copyright registration is handled through the U.S. Copyright Office at, which is part of the Library of Congress. The symbol for a registered copyright is ®. Using the © only tells the world that you are claiming registration. Registration however, will prove that the work is yours. After you register your copyright, then you would use the ® sign.

Trademarks are for brand names, slogans, and logos. In both trademarks and copywriting, the owner has the right to exclude others from using their work without permission. A trademark requires a registration for protection. Trademarks are handled through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The application fee is between $275-$325 at Trademark rights can last forever, however, for trademark rights to continue, you have to use it, protect it against infringers, and renew it. When you create your trademarked slogan, name or logo you are permitted to use the symbol TM. Once it is registered, you are able to use the ® sign. Using this symbol without registration is illegal.