As a senior graphic design student approaching graduation and soon facing the reality of the real world, I find myself slowly transitioning from student to “professional.” More of my classes are talking about tracking hours, pay rates, dealing with clients and other things like contracts. As much as it’s exciting, I can say that it’s also very intimidating. In addition to all the real world chit chat, I have been getting more commissions and opportunities to design as my portfolio grows and my list of connections gets longer. As some of my repeat jobs are monthly ads or weekly social media posts, I found myself getting cramped with work during the semester and some busier months of the year.
I think it took me about six months into creating monthly ads for a fishing company to realize the beauty of templates and the benefits of creating a style guide for a specific, repeat job or customer. The fishing company already had a logo and color palette when I started working with them which consists of black and NEON green. Bright, flaming, eye straining neon green. (As a designer, NOT ideal but definitely a nice challenge to make flattering in a printed ad.) Regardless, I still had to sit down once a month and create a new design for them.
Before using a template, it would normally take me 2 hours to create an ad after designing graphic elements, finding the right text, editing the photos they want me to use and then making any corrections needed. On top of that, the ads from the months prior were not as cohesive as they should have been to each other.
A few months in, I got tired of trying to create something new every month and I started to realize that it’s my job to establish brand recognition through design continuity, which as an amateur designer, I was not doing in the past (as seen above). It was then that a template was born. Through the months, I have altered and refined the template to fit my needs and my skillset as I grow as a designer. Consistent typefaces, design elements and cohesive layouts all working together throughout a variety of different monthly ads. Not only was I elevating the style of the company but it made my life SO much easier by cutting my work time in half. I also decided to create a small style guide to reference back to in case I forgot any hexadecimal values and how to control that neon green used throughout their company.
With my template, I can use the elements in a variety of ways in order to still create different and unique ads and also stay with the brand identity.
Not only have I made my own templates, but did you know there are free photoshop templates you can download and use to elevate your designs? Websites like Graphic Burger have become my best friends when mocking up products and signage in order to bring my designs to life, rather than posting a flat .jpg of my work. Templates such as t-shirts, business cards, bags, business signs and so much more are available to quickly plug in your artwork and voila! Below are some other template websites that I’ve used and enjoyed.