5 Basic Questions That Are 10 Times Harder to Answer When You’re a Designer

When you have a creative profession, you live in a world of colors, shapes, vectors, and pixels. And because you accumulate knowledge on all sorts of things both related and adjacent to your job, you would think that would make answering simple questions much easier. I mean, if you know all about trucks, then you should be able to answer what your favorite truck is, right?

Slow your roll there, cowboy. That’s very much not the case. In fact, if anything, it gets exponentially harder to answer those questions because you have tons more data to work with. Don’t believe me? Fine. Read on and by the end you’ll either be shaking your head in agreement, or wondering if I’ve been sniffing too many paint fumes.

(Spoiler: maybe. Don’t get all judgy with me.)

What’s your favorite color?

I have kids, so I get this question a lot. For them, it seems simple: my daughter likes pink, my son likes blue and red. For me? Ugh. It’s not that easy.

If we’re talking about cars, you could broadly say that my favorite paint color is House of Kolor Limetime Green, but that technically isn’t specific enough. I like House of Kolor Limetime Green sprayed over a dark gray sealer, because that’s what my first custom car had, and it was amazing. That said, House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl is pretty cool, too, and my current truck is an electric blue, so whatever.

If the subject is home interior colors, well then it’s an open ballpark. There are at least, I dunno, say, 50 shades of gray that I like, including the one on the wall in front of me. (It’s a very good wall, so I never have to discipline it.) Our kitchen is a nice shade of eggplant currently, but we’ve talked about changing it to a Swiss coffee shade of white in the future.

Of course, I’m a Red Sox fan, so one of my favorite colors is Fenway Green, which is one you’d find on the Green Monster at the iconic Fenway Park. Naturally, those shades of red and blue work as well. Oh, and obviously I know the hex codes for most of these hues, since I’m a designer.

Point is, there are a lot of options here. I mean, come on. There are dozens of shades of white out there. You want me to pick just one?

So yeah, my favorite color? It’s not that easy to answer.

Where can I print a shirt?

I know a thing or two about T-shirts, so I’m the guy that people come to when they want shirts made. But because I know so much, answering this question just isn’t that simple. In fact, when I got this question the other day, I stopped, took a deep breath, and then held back a scream.

The question should be, “How much will I pay to print a shirt?” Why? Because I can explain all the options to you ad nauseam, but it all comes down to how much cash you want to shell out.

For example, if you want to pay $2 a t-shirt, you can make it happen, but you have to order at least 1,000 of them through a screen printer. If you want just one shirt that’s fine, but you’ll pay more — upwards of $20/shirt — through a direct-to-garment printer. Should you want to go the at-home route, you could invest in a Cricut, a heat press, and some heat transfer vinyl, and you can do all sorts of cool things, there’s just a high cost of entry. You can also make your own screenprints if you want to get super DIY, or you can do iron-on transfers, too. I mean, do you have options? Yeah. A ridiculous amount of them. But how much do you want to pay?

What’s your favorite clothing brand?

Easy question, right? WRONG. You think it’s a simple pull, but I counter with this: why do I like a particular brand?

See, I’m a fan of American Apparel T-shirts because of how they fit on me, but they’re not doing so hot, so I don’t expect that to last very long. I like other brands simply because of their logo, because I obviously love good design. On that same note, some stores have a better layout than others, and if I can find my stuff easily, that always makes me happy. Oh, and then there’s the quality: is it going to last? I find that most of my Busted Tees shirts fit well and have pretty funny cartoons, plus they last a long time. But anything I’ve bought at Cotton Bureau lasts for four washes and then it’s done (even though I often love the designs.

So is it a simple question? No, of course it’s not. I’m a designer; no question is simple.

Can you send over your logo?

Sure. I’ll send you my logo, but you’re going to have to be a little more specific than that.

First off, where are you using this thing? Because it’s my logo, so obviously I want to make sure it’s not used on some weird downloading site or on the backdrop of a urinal. Next, is this for print or the web? I mean, if it’s going in the newspaper I’ll send it one way, but if you want it for your website, then it’s another. Oh, and on that note — RGB or CMYK? Vector or raster? Is it going on a white or a colored background? Hi- or low-res? Do you want fries with that? COME ON, GIVE ME AN ANSWER!

See? Now you’ve ticked me off and made me use an exclamation mark. I hate those things.

Do you think that cover/image/advertisement is Photoshopped?

First off, let’s talk about this obsession with Photoshop. I mean, I love Adobe — not when that $75 pulls every month, but still — but there is other image modification software out there. Nobody says, “Is that image Pixelmated?” or anything like that. And I hate that Photoshop is now in the same realm as Kleenex or Q-Tip, because that seems wrong to me on an emotional level.

Then let’s talk about how people are always wondering if something has been modified in some way. Let me give you the easy answer: yes. Not every picture you see has been run through every filter in the book and color corrected to within an inch of its life, but it’s certainly had at least a quick pass through some software. Not everyone is going to be a mammoth fail worthy of our ridicule, but it’s just common sense. Magazines will always want the best possible image on their cover, and if that means adjusting the levels or removing imperfections, there going to do it.

And while we’re on the topic, can we talk about how civilians think that you can just Photoshop anything into or out of a picture? I had a guy ask me once if I could add a hat to his photo for a magazine. Another wanted me to trade out the wheels on his truck, and yet another asked me to swap his wife out for another person. Yeah seriously, that happened. And sure, some of those things are possible, but is it worth the time and effort to make it happen? Most of the time: no. And if it’s for free, definitely not.

Angst released

Look, I get it: I’m an angry guy. But sometimes the questions I get make me want to pick up a chair and huck it across the room at the nearest human being I see. But instead of working this out with physical violence, I kvetch to people on the internet about it. Is it the most reasonable way to get things done? No. Is it the safest for all of the furniture in the room? Probably.