Election season is an intimidating experience for a designer. Between creating late night social graphics for debate night to rushing mail designs to the printer before close, time never seems to be on your side. Below are the top four lessons that helped me meet deadlines, keep clients happy, and stay sane.
During the election cycle, your day is never a simple checklist. Design projects fly at you from all directions — some urgent, some extremely urgent. Speed during the design process is important, but you will not be able to work at peak efficiency if organization is not a priority.
Our team prioritized organization by using an online management tool to manage all projects. This tool kept deadlines in order, streamlined our communication, and gave every team member a voice in the project.
Each designer was expected to keep his or her team organized by uploading each design brief to the specified task. Failing to do so would lead to forgotten design briefs resulting in a longer turnaround time. It is essential to take that extra few minutes to organize your projects instead of skipping steps in an attempt to meet deadlines.
Effective Communication and Realistic Deadlines
All political graphic designers are highly adaptable to changing schedules, but not all are capable of setting necessary boundaries. During the election cycle, I was working at my maximum capacity. I would push myself to get projects finished within a given deadline thinking that anything late would seemingly reduce my reliability as a designer.
Although I was capable of pushing myself to complete a project in a small time frame, it would sometimes mean sacrificing the quality of my work and attention to detail. This not only left me feeling on edge but also led to more edits from simple mistakes.
It’s important to be open and honest with your team when an unrealistic deadline is given. As a designer, you’re the only one who knows how long a design project is going to take. Having this knowledge means it’s up to you to communicate this with your team when an unrealistic deadline is set.
Realizing the importance of speaking up and setting boundaries for yourself will give your design the necessary time and attention it needs to come to life.
It’s important as a political graphic designer to stay positive when solving design issues. This means when there is a third round of edits to a mail piece, or even a single edit that changes your entire design, it’s up to you to remain eager to find a solution to the problem.
It’s easy to hastily make an edit you don’t agree with but much more difficult to work with that edit to create something that far surpasses your previous work. Learn to do this by staying positive and putting your design above your own emotions.
Although this is the last lesson, it is by far the most important. A concept that took me a long time to understand was that it’s easier to push yourself to your limits but much harder to accept the fact that you need to take a break.
Taking time away from designing is absolutely necessary, although at times, it might seem impossible with impending deadlines. Focusing on yourself brings you back to reality after being in a design rut and can save you from unnecessary stress. Types of self-care that helped me most included leaving the office for fresh air, maintaining a clean workspace, and socializing with coworkers.
It’s important to note that these lessons did not come easy to me. At times, it was easier to let stress take control instead of pushing to be the best version of myself as a designer and coworker. Election season is without a doubt a stressful time, but following these lessons will put your mind at ease and allow you to enjoy the chaotic yet rewarding experience.
About the Author
Nicole Shea Fryling is a designer with expertise in logo creation & branding, digital advertising, print design & Illustration. I am currently employed at Go BIG Media, Inc. in Alexandria, VA as the Director of Graphic Design.