Attract the Client Work You Dream of in 2016

It’s that time of year again, after the binging of the holidays comes the cleansing of, well, everything. It’s always during this time of purging that I think about how much I want to accomplish, especially with work. I think about what I could have done differently this year that would have long lasting benefits for the future. For creatives this can be challenging, especially when you’re constantly comparing your work to that of your peers, and with the constant reminder of it all over social media, there’s no escaping it. *Sigh* If only I had those clients…Why not make this the year you finally attract the client work you dream of?

I’ve worked with hundreds of designers throughout my career, with rosters full of all types of clients and the one thing I found that was the difference between those that loved their work and those dreaded it – was the type of work they were producing. Here’s the thing, to attract the kind of client work you want to do, you actually have to produce the kind of work that gets noticed. And print design is some of the most impressive and notable work in designer’s portfolio.


The beauty of print design is that it makes a statement. Unlike digital, which is often fleeting and easily taken out of context, print has permanence and the ability to tell a story like no other. When we look at the brands we love and respect most, print is always a central part of their marketing mix. The same goes for the creative talent behind the design. With the creatives I worked with, especially those that started out as freelancers or with small studios, I found that their reputations and businesses often took off when they focused on print as one of their disciplines. This is especially important for those working with clients that are startups and young companies – which can prove challenging because typically they’re operating on limited budgets, and their perception is print is expensive. But here’s the thing, great print doesn’t have to break the bank.


When starting Parse & Parcel, I had a pretty tight marketing budget (I still do). However, I made the decision to work with an amazingly smart and equally talented designer who is persuasive. At that time, my designer had just launched her freelance business after spending a few years with a hot design studio in town (and her work was a big reason they were so in demand). She was flexible and understanding of my budgetary restrictions yet shared my enthusiasm and vision for what this business could be. She instinctively knew what would work. She nailed the design for The Parcel almost immediately, although presented three different design options. The process of deciding was made so much easier for me, the client, because she had all the tools for me to visualize the end result with. I got to feel the blind emboss, see the color palette as it was used in a real-life packaging application. And once the design decision was made, I got a feel for the entire brand identity because she mocked up each item on the actual paper. Even for me, a seasoned paper pro, having paper and print samples as part of the presentation made all the difference and in the end simplified the process (for both of us I think). The Parcel is a simple kraft shipper box, wrapped in a tactile blind embossed box sleeve (no ink) with a tip-in affixed to the top; it contains a curated collection of luxe paper, print and design samples meant to inspire and educate the design professional.

To date, the project design includes logo, stationery, The Parcel and The Swatch Box packaging, photo art direction, styling and web design. As a client, I am pleased to say my budget stayed on course, even while including a few special details like the blind emboss, foil stamp and custom setup box – it was all about smart design, practical application and a few luxury details.

It’s been almost two years since The Parcel launched, and as a client, I couldn’t be more thrilled. This past year was exciting for us, we won Best of Show at AIGA Design 730, and received The GDUSA American Packaging Design Award in the luxury packaging category for The Parcel. For my designer, her business has grown from freelance to a multi-disciplinary design studio with a growing team beside her. Her portfolio of work is a perfect example of how print (along with talent and hard work), can help scale a designer’s business.


If your goal for 2016 is to attract the kind of client work you dream of doing, focus on print design with your existing client base. Need a little help convincing clients of print’s impact? Subscribe to The Parcel and impress even the pickiest of clients with amazing print inspiration.

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