Know your Graphic Design Tools

Agency Addicts - Know your creative tools

Even if you’re on the account team and don’t work on the actual creative files, it’s important to understand what the main programs are and what they’re intended for- basically know your graphic design tools. I’ve noticed that it’s not uncommon, especially when working with a small creative department, to come across an inexperienced artist (sometimes even an art director or creative director… appalling, I know) who designs something in an entirely wrong program.

When this happens, it can cause a series of inefficiencies that eventually disrupt the project schedule… And no one has time for that. So here are the basics everyone should know, without delving in too deep:


  • Should be used for multi-page designs
  • Ideal for pieces with consistent page layout, typography and elements with headers and footers


  • Should be used for editing photos or mocking up digital work
  • Ideal for websites, emails, basically pieces that are NOT going to print


  • Should be used for creating logos or scalable vector graphics

Here’s what should NOT happen…

  • Your programmers in Interactive are not going to want Email designs created in Indesign – Photoshop always for email.
  • Your print vendor is not going to want a direct mail piece designed with Photoshop – Indesign always for print.
  • Your Art Director is not going to want to get an Illustrator file from a production artist for a booklet design – Indesign always for things with pagination.

Knowing these basic things can help prevent you from having your project derailed and adding days to your schedule. It absolutely sucks when design files get pushed back from a vendor, another department or from one designer to another. All of which have happened to me at some point, at various companies.

And if you’re lucky enough to work with knowledgeable people who would never do such things, I’ve come to realize that asking a rudimentary question like “What program would you use to design an email?” is an effective screening question when interviewing new creative staff. My most recent interview answered Indesign

I hope that helps! Have a great rest of the week guys – it’s almost the weekend! <3

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