Graphic Design Portfolio

Considering What to Work on for My Master’s Design Project

Because I live in Korea, an ideal client for me to target for my Master’s Design Thesis Project would be one that has a need for English in design. The major business sectors that use English in Korea are tourism and education.

The tourism sector includes a few ideal clients: the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) is the national organization for tourism marketing in Korea; the Korea International Medical Association (KIMA) is a new initiative to promote Korea Healthcare to international patients; and Jeonju tourism promotes my city’s cultural and culinary heritage.

In the education sector: universities target international students as well as Korean students; many private academies focus on English teaching, but the majority of their designs are still written in Korean – targeting Korean parents; and English teacher organizations like KOTESOL (or Korean TESOL) and the Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK) are in need of design, but relatively small, mainly volunteer organizations.

As for marketing myself to these clients, the Bullseye approach would be best. The Broadshot approach is a very general marketing strategy, targeting anyone at any time. I can’t afford to just “put myself out there” and wait for companies to come to me with design work. I have to go to them first. With the Bullseye approach, any research conducted about potential clients and the personal contact it entails, would be far more effective in gathering new clients and keeping them.

When accepting a client proposal, the size and reach of the organization, its target market and how involved its own customer base is, and their ability to support my work should be considered. Additionally, my own Return On Investment is important. Would I be able to add this work to my portfolio? Would our partnership be temporary or long-term? As Andrew Sobel points out, “Experts are, after all, tradable commodities–there are always other good experts in your field out there…Everyone starts off in the ‘Expert for Hire’ quadrant, but while clients hire experts, they keep advisors.” (Sobel, “Client”). I’d much rather be an advisor than just an expert.

That being said, there are at least three behaviors that could hinder a developing relationship with any client. First, a lack of interactive communication – such as a sole dependence on email – would slow, and possibly stop the design process. Second, if one party is concerned only with their own agenda, it could build a wall of distrust. Andrew Sobel writes, “Too often we are preoccupied with a key message we’re trying to deliver, a point of view we want to convince our client of, or an agenda that we’re determined to get through at any cost. Such rigidity and lack of forethought can be disastrous.” (Sobel, “Preparing”). Third, a lack of listening would break down the walls of communication. Kathryn Best writes, “Remember, successful negotiators do more listening than talking. Power bargaining erodes trust and good will. You may gain in the short term, but it will prove to be costly in the long term.” (Best, p 87).

Authors Crawford and Bruck provide excellent advice to consider before entering into any design contract: “The designer should try to imagine how the shape of the contract will affect the future business relationship with the other party. Will it probably lead to success for both sides and more business or will it fail to achieve what one side or the other desires?” (Crawford & Bruck, p 3).

What about you?

Think I have some good ideas for my Master’s Project?


Sobel, A. (2007). Client relationship management. Andrew Sobel Advisors, Inc. Retrieved June 2, 2010, from http://www.andrewsobel.com/contents/view/client-relationship-management

Sobel, A. (2007). Preparing for any client meeting. Andrew Sobel Advisors, Inc. Retrieved June 2, 2010, from http://www.andrewsobel.com/articles/view/preparing-for-any-client-meeting

Best, K. (2006). Design Management. Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA.

Crawford, T., & Bruck, E.D. (2003). Business and legal forms, (3rd ed.). New York: Allworth Press.

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