Artists and Drunks: The Sacred Bond Between Writers and Designers

I am in awe of pretty much every designer I have ever worked with. I’ve always felt like you guys are analytical and artistic geniuses and I’m just some bumbling tit who you have to work with. You guys are Hermione, I’m Ron.

I’ve written about the special bond between the designer and the writer before. Writers and designers typically get along, and we have to get along. When we click, it’s real magic. When we don’t, it’s Real Housewives of Atlanta.

So, let’s take a look at how to make these relationships work and why they’re so god damn crucial.

Note: If you’re wondering who is who in my headline, I’ll just say this… From what I have seen over my 15-year career in marketing, writers are more often heavy drinkers and designers are more often light/ social drinkers.

That being said, I’ve worked with designers who are massive piss-tanks (You know who you are) and some teetotalling writers… but to me, the latter sounds fucking exhausting.

Why We Need to Get Along

Whether it’s an agency or an in-house marketing team, we’re often forced-friends because we’re office bunkmates. We probably sit near each other because we often collaborate on the same project. Also, office managers think it’s probably best if they keep the weirdos together.

We share the same problems and frustrations, like insane deadlines or more insane clients. We get to vent to each other with exchanges like:

“Hey, the client said their brother doesn’t like the font. You think this brother is an award-winning designer with a decade of agency experience?”

“Likely not, no.”

“Oh ok. Maybe we should just do it my way then?”

“Fuck it.”

“Fuck it!!”

I really wish that was an exaggeration.

Designers Who Write and Writers Who Design

We’re also specialists who are often asked to do the other person’s job. Yes, you can find a writer who can do passable-to-capable design, or a designer who’s a pretty damn good writer.

Me? I’m a shit designer. But, every now and then, the designers will be busy and I’ll try my hand at putting together a blog image or infographic on my own in Canva.

I’ll then show it to the designer to see if it’s OK-ish, and I’m always met with a look that just says, “That’s adorable.”

I worked really hard on this

Fine, print it off and stick it on your fridge. Jerks.

I also find that many designers simply hate writing. If they have to write the copy for a website, they typically put it off like a high school book report.

Please, if you’re reading this and looking to hire someone to do both, DON’T. Let a specialist do their thing.

We’re Not SEO Experts, But We Do What We Can

For either of us to survive in this world of marketing, we both need a fairly good knowledge of SEO principles. But, we’re not SEO experts and SEOs are a beast from a different jungle.

Something changed with Google’s algorithm while you read that sentence. You really need a hardcore SEO nerd who eats, sleeps and breathes that shit to stay on top of the best ways to rank.

But, on in-house teams, people will frequently look to us for SEO tactics. So, we have to lean on each other and fill in any knowledge gaps we may have. This leads to a lot of conversations like:

Designer: “We need to add keywords to our metas and titles as we build new pages.”

Me: “Totally. I can do that.”

Designer “Great… what are our keywords exactly?”

Me:

We can definitely use something like SEMrush or ahrefs to do the keyword research, but I highly recommend always getting an SEO guru to plan how you will use them.

We Help Each Other Outside of the Office

Many writers and designers also have a side hustle or freelance. This means that if we’ve earned each other’s trust, we can hook each other up when our clients ask us if we know anyone talented.

I’ve always enjoyed the first tentative conversation we have for the first freelance project we collaborate on. We typically say we would love some help with, “Something outside of work.”

It feels like Andy and Red talking outside of Shawshank for the first time.

“Yeah, I’ve been known to design certain things from time to time.”

When we really get a good relationship, we will also pre-screen freelance clients for each other and weed out the bad ones and cheap bastards.

Writers, Hug Your Designers. Designers, Tolerate Your Writers

We need each other, so let’s make this relationship work… Ok, well, we need you at least. I’d like to close by saying thank you to all the incredible designers I’ve worked with over the years.

I won’t call you out by name, because most of you have said that being associated with me “reflects very badly” on you, or “can only hurt” your career. Whatever.

Thank you anyways. Thank you for putting up with my unique brand of nonsense.

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