First impressions are important - you know this. You make yourself look somewhat presentable when you leave the house. You use proper grammar when sending emails (hopefully). So why, when it comes to presenting our work, do we slap it on a white background and send it to the client?
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s the way to go. As you learn to read your clients, you’ll start to understand how their brain works. But for the most part, clients don’t necessarily understand design, and you want to make it as easy for them as possible.
Imagine designing the best logo you’ve ever made, sending it to the client, and them rejecting it because they envisioned it being carved into wood for their storefront but you showed them something really colorful and they just can’t picture it. Don’t let that happen! There are so many tools out there to help you level up your presentation - for clients or just for your portfolio.
Think about the concept of the project and the brand overall. Would it make sense that this would be printed on a canvas bag? A coffee mug? A t-shirt? Sometimes when you look at something out of context it’s hard to envision what it would be like in real life. The best way to fix this is with mockups.
As a designer, mockups should be your best friend. Not only do they make your work look so much more professional, they save you SO MUCH time that you would have spent trying to make something look real. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here are some examples:
I didn’t get those things made and photograph them, I just used photoshop mockup templates to drop in my pattern & logos. It’s that easy! These templates can be downloaded for free from a ton of different websites. I use Mockup World and Graphic Burger most often. When you open the PhotoShop file, there will be a layer that’s named something like “Place logo here” or something like that. Double click that layer and drop your logo, pattern, etc. in and save. Then go back to the main PSD file and you’ll see your logo perfectly placed with the right shadows, curves, whatever to make it look like it’s the real thing.
These mockup templates are THE BEST THING EVER because they show context for your design and help other people see how you envisioned it living in the real world. When sending things to clients, send them the flat version, but then include a mockup to show them just how amazing your design really is.
I recently designed a beer can label for Monday Night Brewing, and instead of just sending the flat design, I put it on a beer can because DUH. Makes sense.
Sending your clients mockups with the design shows that you’re professional, and that you’re thinking about your design working practically. Something may look amazing, but if it’s meant for just a business card, it needs to be able to shrink down really well. If something is being made for just a billboard, the type doesn’t need to be massive because it’s going to be blown up. Showing that your design is versatile and well thought out will only help you.
Another great resource is Creative Market. They have a ton of beautiful stuff like fonts, textures, illustrations, anything you could ever want. You have to buy Creative Market items, but every week they post a few goodies for free. You can download them here. They post a lot of good stuff, so make sure to check back every week!