Tooting Your Own Horn:

How Designers Can Get the Word Out

I recently received the latest issue of my favorite design organization publication, Designer, from the University & College Designers Association. This particular issue (Vol. 30, No 3) contains an excerpt from my book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success - as well as many other articles of interest to any graphic design professional. The UCDA is primarily an organization for designers working within college or university environments. I initially got involved with the association due to my design efforts with Reed College, George Fox University, Willamette University, the University of Oregon, and other educational institutions over the years. I had the pleasure of speaking at the UCDA annual conference in San Diego in September and had a great time meeting many of the members. I would suggest that any designer working with colleges or universities check out the resources, seminars, workshops, design summits, annual conference and other activities of the UCDA.

The book excerpt appearing in the UCDA publication is Tooting Your Own Horn: How Designers Can Get the Word Out. Both the Designer and online versions of the piece are illustrated with self-promotion pieces created by Portland design firms Lift Communications and Whiplash Design, and the Salem design company Glitschka Studios. Here's a portion of the article:

"If you build it, they will come" was the haunting message from above in the movie Field of Dreams. However, clients are not magically going to appear unless they know about what you have to offer. The reality of the business world—including the design world—is a bit harsher than Hollywood with its instant, magic following. That is where marketing principles come into play. Designers must consider a myriad of methods to get the word out, from direct mail to press releases.

Press for Success

Designers must constantly promote themselves—especially when conditions are at their best, so work will be coming in the door when the economy takes a turn for the worse. I think the biggest mistake regarding self-promotion that most designers consistently make is to wait until there is no work on their desks before beginning their own marketing efforts.

In her book, BRAG!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, Peggy Klaus writes: "Promoting ourselves is something we are not taught to do. Even today, we still tell children 'Don't talk about yourself, people won't like you.' So ingrained are the myths about self-promotion, so repelled are we by obnoxious braggers, many people simply avoid talking about themselves."

Still, you must make your potential clientele—or employer—aware of who you are, your capabilities and what you have to offer. Doing so may require walking a fine line between coming across as an obnoxious braggart or presenting a finely honed, savvy marketing message...

You can read the piece in its entirety posted online at

© 2005 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

1 comment:

shannon said...

You wrote: "Designers must constantly promote themselves"

We all have a list of our top 10 "famous" designers. It is my thought that the most recognized designers are those who can skillfully write and talk about themselves. This is one reason reading and writing about design must be implemented into every design curriculum. …just a thought!

love your blog! Keep up the great work!