Your graphic designer can make or break your film project.

Yes, really. Without influencing the narrative or even the look of the actual film, their highly visible work in the form of promotional materials like posters, social media campaigns and pitch decks, can have a massive impact on funding, audiences and profits.

So it’s a no-brainer that you need to have a good relationship. Now I’ve developed an easy communication and good understanding with many clients that I’ve worked with over the long-term – but is there a shortcut to this kind of rapport?

Well, no promises – but in my experience, there a number of things that can really help. Below, I outline my perfect process for working with a client.

1. Hire the right person

Well, duh, right? But seriously, consider if this person can deliver the kind of work you are looking for. You should think beyond budget and reflect on whether they have the right kind of style and level of knowledge and expertise. If you are satisfied that they do, it will be easier to trust in your choice – a key component of any working relationship.

Graphic design for film is highly collaborative – so it’s also worth weighing up how well you personally get on. Do you find it easy to communicate with them? You don’t have to be instant BFFs but a personality clash could make it a very difficult process.

2. First steps

Before beginning the project, make sure you have defined your needs (format, usage etc) and agreed on a reasonable timeframe. Top tip: don’t make your designer’s deadline too close to your own deadline (e.g. for print or press release) – this will only add to everyone’s stress.

If you have any questions about the process, this is a great time to ask.

Photo credit: Clint Bustrillos

3. Share what you know

Provide your designer with all the crucial information you have on the project. You’d be surprised at what they find useful. For instance, a key prop in the narrative could provide visual inspiration for the design they are creating.

Make sure they know the genre, themes and basic plot of the film. Communicate its emotional feel/flavour using examples of other films and imagery via moodboards.

Explain any existing ideas you have, but try not to dictate. Keep an open mind and let them do what they do best: imagine and create.

4. Giving Feedback

Don’t expect the first draft to be perfect – it’s only the starting point for your evolving collaboration. Your designer will give you space for your input to help the project grow.

Be specific as you can. ‘I don’t like it’ is the least helpful comment ever. Think about the main components – colour, typography, imagery, layout and general aesthetic – and try and describe where the issue lies. Over-explain if you need to – it can be hard to understand a visual issue communicated verbally.

Present problems, not solutions. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s a lot more beneficial to say ‘the typography doesn’t feel ominous enough for the story’ than ‘change the font to X’. It’s a designer’s job to come up with solutions, whereas direct changes without an understanding of design may throw up other problems.

A note on feedback: remember that reasonable timeframe? This can only apply if you are giving your designer sufficient working time on the project. If you’ve decided on a six-week turnaround, but you only give your feedback after 5 weeks and 6 days – then it’s going to be difficult for them to do a great job.

Photo credit: Balazs Ketyi

5. Know when to stop

When you’re close to a project, it can be hard to know when it’s finished. Resist the urge to keep tweaking and take a step back before your final round of amends.

If you need to seek outside opinions, pick no more than a couple of trusted people – ideally with industry expertise – or you may end up even more confused.

6. Enjoy the journey

Graphic design is one more way that you can see your film project come to life. Don’t forget the reasons that you work in this industry. Stay passionate, stay humble – and have fun getting your story out there.

For consultation on film posters, pitch decks or other graphic design services for film, feel free to drop me a line at