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Graphic Design: Creative Solutions for Madison Brands & Businesses

Huston Design Graphic Design vs Artist

For more than 23 years, Huston Design has been the creative force behind some of Madison, Wisconsin’s most enduring companies, organizations and nonprofits. As a graphic design firm with deep Madison roots, we've witnessed firsthand how effective branding and graphic design can transform brands and businesses.

In this article, Huston Design creative director, owner and founder John Huston shares what sets graphic design apart from art, why not all design is good design, and how our approach to design translates into client success.

Graphic Design vs. Art: Two Sides of a Creative Coin

A prospective client posed an interesting question to John not long ago, “How do you reconcile client needs with your sensibilities as an artist? Does that ever create tension for you?”

John’s answer was quick and straightforward. “I’m not an artist; I’m a graphic designer. There’s a big difference. Graphic designers are like architects with an eye for composition and color, and a knack for creative problem-solving. We’re not here to express our own vision, but to solve a client’s problem. We create solutions that work for clients, not for ourselves."

There’s a common misconception that graphic designers and artists are one and the same. While both professions revolve around creativity, their purposes diverge significantly. Artists are driven by the desire to convey personal messages, emotions and concepts through their chosen mediums, without the constraints of client requirements. Their work is a reflection of their inner world, meant to evoke a response or provoke thought.

Graphic designers, on the other hand, operate within a framework defined by client needs. Our mission is to deliver creative solutions to specific problems, whether it's creating a brand identity, designing marketing materials or crafting an engaging website that achieves business goals. We use our skills to ensure that our clients’ messages are clear, compelling and aligned with their business goals.

To put it simply, artists ask, "What do I want to say?" while graphic designers ask, "What does the target audience need to hear, what does client need to say in response, and how can I say it best?"

Not All Design Is Created Equal

"Everything is designed. But not everything is designed well," John chuckles. "A poorly designed brochure is still a design—it just might be doing more harm than good."

In our visually saturated world, design is omnipresent. From the apps on our phones to the packaging of our breakfast cereal, everything has been designed. But as John aptly points out, not all design is good design. “The hallmark of good design is simplicity. Good design does not make you work to understand its purpose. By the way, this is not easy. Tough decisions are made. It’s paramount that the end result is only what is truly important for achieving our clients’ goals.”

At Huston Design, we believe that design should be not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional and purposeful. Good design serves as a bridge between a brand and its audience, creating a connection that goes beyond superficial appeal. It should be intuitive, drawing users in and guiding them towards a desired action, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or simply feeling a connection to the brand.

Bad design, on the other hand, can lead to confusion, frustration and a disconnect with the audience. It’s the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a missed opportunity. That’s why we emphasize the importance of thoughtful, intentional design in all our projects.

Graphic Design with Purpose: Measuring Success by Client Achievements

"In our corner of the world, graphic design is not just about making things look pretty. It’s about achieving specific goals," says John. "When our clients succeed, we succeed."

At Huston Design, we approach every project with a clear goal in mind: to help our clients achieve their objectives. Whether it's increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or enhancing customer engagement, our designs are tailored to meet these goals.

We understand that our success is intertwined with that of our clients. That’s why we take the time to understand their business, their audience, and their unique challenges. By doing so, we can create designs that are not only visually appealing but also strategically aligned with their goals.

Our work doesn’t end when we deliver the final design. We track the results, analyze the outcomes, and continually refine our approach to ensure that our clients are getting the best possible return on their investment. This commitment to client success is what sets us apart and drives us to deliver exceptional design solutions.

“One of our priorities as a company is client retention, and we’ve been privileged to achieve that,” John says. “We still work with our very first client more than 20 years later, and our best clients have been working with us for a decade or more.” Long-standing client relationships enable us to truly get to know our clients’ businesses and organizations as they grow and evolve, to be proactive about recommending initiatives and solutions, and to truly be an extension of their internal marketing and communications team. 

Graphic design is more than just a creative endeavor; it’s a powerful tool for achieving business goals. 

At Huston Design, we pride ourselves on our ability to combine creativity with strategic thinking to deliver branding and graphic design that drives results. As John puts it, "We measure our success by the success of our clients. When they win, we win."

So, whether you're looking to revamp your brand, create compelling marketing materials, or enhance your online presence, remember that good design is an investment in your business's future. With the right branding and graphic design partner, you can achieve your goals and stand out in the crowded marketplace.

Book a free strategy session today, and get insights and ideas for your next project. We’d love to hear from you.