This week we would like you to meet Graphic Designer Dawn Mitchell.
1. What was the inspiration behind you becoming a Graphic Designer?
I was actually in college to become a computer programmer and was searching for a different path since it really wasn’t my thing. Someone came into our classroom showing us a Photoshop of Stonehenge sitting on water and it really wowed me. I was also working as a receptionist for a small sign company, where I was starting to draw and learn the craft. Those two things that happened almost simultaneously helped me realize that Graphic Design was my career path.
2. Can you take us through your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you create make money?
I meet with the client to see what their needs are. I show them examples of my work or look at their ideas and brainstorm ideas on colors, fonts, paper, budget, etc. I then comp a design layout for them and we go back and forth until we get an approval. I also use writers and photographers for different elements of the project, as we need graphics for the design. Depending on the project and the client’s time to respond, a very simple project with very little refinement rounds can take a few hours, up to six months for a larger project that requires several refinement rounds. And, yes, everything makes money because I’m commissioned to do the work for the client’s specific need.
3. What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
People think just because you have the software or the tools makes you a great artist. In fact, it takes several years to hone your craft. They also think you can wave your hand and have something wonderful created in minutes, when in fact, it takes hours or longer.
4. Have you experienced copyright infringement and, if so, how has it affected you personally and financially?
Yes! My biggest issue is new clients not paying their final invoices or existing clients taking a long time to pay their final invoices. What they don’t understand is that the copyright doesn’t belong to them until their invoice is paid in full. It affects me personally because it’s hurt my trust in working with new and existing clients. Last year alone, I lost about $10,000 to non-paid invoices. That’s several months worth of work. In addition, I lost hours and hours of work time chasing copyright infringers that I could have used to meet with clients. Further, when you’re constantly stiffed, it’s hard to go out and look for new business when the majority of infringement stems from new clients.
5. What is the best piece of advice that you would give fellow creators about copyright and how to protect themselves and their work?
I think we really need to educate the public on when it’s okay to use photos and illustrations and when it’s not. It’s also good to watermark images before placing them online, but it does hinder the integrity of the design.
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