Sell your graphic design skills, not your tools

graphic design tools

While there’s no harm in mentioning the particular design software you use, or whatever your tools of the trade may be, focusing on it isn’t going to bring you any business.

If you’re running a website for potential clients to find, you obviously want your design portfolio, project enquiry or design quote pages, and other contact information to be readily available to visitors. This is the information clients are looking for, and the information that will get you a job.

As for what tools your using? They probably don’t know or really care for that matter. They’re looking for someone who can provide a service, not someone who has purchased a piece of software.

I recently visited a fellow logo designers blog and portfolio where, at a glance, the site seemed more about the Adobe Creative Suite than anything else. There was a prominent post on having “purchased” the software, a permanent visual element on the site stating Now using Adobe CS5! with a collection of program icons, each project description from their graphic design portfolio was signed off with Created using Adobe CS5 and was accompanied by the same icons.

What advantage is there in displaying your new tools for the world to see? There isn’t one really…

great logo designs

Any of the above logo designs can be created in Illustrator CS, CS2, 3, 4 or 5. New software may bring new tools and may make the process more efficient, but the end result will be identical. The knowledge held, information interpreted and the creativity used when wielding these tools however, will drastically affect the outcome.

Anyone can wield a hammer, not everyone can build a house.

Graphic design is no different. Clients won’t pay you thousands of dollars just because you’ve purchased a piece of software, if that was all that was needed they could buy it themselves. Sell your skills and ideas, not your software.

9 thoughts on “Sell your graphic design skills, not your tools”

  1. Quite. Sadly I’ve had a few bad experiences lately with tradespeople who had all the gear but couldn’t do the job expected. I’m no designer but I’m certain there’s a lot more to it than just having some software.

  2. Zed,

    That’s bad luck. We are having our property landscaped shortly, fingers crossed we don’t have the same problem.

  3. I totally agree! I’m still working in Illustrator CS2!

    The designer creates, not the software! Obviously you need decent software, but you don’t need the very latest of everything every five seconds. That just eats into profits.

    I must upgrade soon though I think, getting sick of the increased incidence of opening files from other designers and it saying “You can’t open that because it was created in a newer version …blah blah”

    Great blog.

  4. Hi Amanda,

    I’ve only recently upgraded to CS5 after running CS3 for years, the primary reason for upgrading was to keep up to date, rather than for any features I needed or wanted.

    The backwards compatibility issue is certainly a pain. In Illustrator for example I can understand completely new features or more complex ones like mesh gradients and transparencies not displaying correctly on significantly older versions. But when you can’t even open a flat, single colour, simple logo design .EPS in an older version it’s a bit of a joke.

    I know for example CS2 can’t open CS5 .EPS files. *sigh*

  5. I’m with you Andrew. I recently upgraded from CS2 to CS5, but to be honest, I don’t use any of the new features. It’s good to keep up with current software, but for the price I paid, I could have gone abroad on holiday for 2 weeks for the same price…

  6. Andrew,

    Indeed. At nearly $2,000 for the design premium suite ( InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Photoshop and a few programs I don’t use ), upgrading for the sake of compatibility only isn’t something I want to do often.

    Dreamweaver has some good new features, viewing live changes to WordPress themes/PHP sites is great. Nothing worth mentioning comes to mind for the other 3 programs though…

  7. I agree, however I think it has more to do with showing others that you are up to date in the industry and are keeping abreast with changes/improvements. It’s also an embarrassment when you’re running a legacy version and can’t open files.

    Frankly, I think it’s a perception of professionalism; notice I said perception, not fact. Design skills far outweigh software versions, but if you’re still running on CS2 and CS6 just came out, how does that look?

  8. I think that’s a different issue though, Sheila.

    Not having the required tools prevents you from doing the job. Having the latest tools doesn’t necessarily mean you’re skilled at using them and doesn’t guarantee a better outcome.

    Obviously in fields like medicine, more modern tools like an advanced x-ray machine may drastically improve the quality of diagnosis/care (I’m just making some logical conclusions here, I’m not a doctor of course so I could be wrong…), but I don’t think that is the case in graphic design.

    If you have the appropriate software for the job, I say sell your skills/portfolio/self. If you don’t have the appropriate tools, I think you need to get them before going any further.

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