There are a couple of phrases that differentiate what AJ Design offers from other graphic design services in the market. We provide clean, creative, and business-friendly design solutions. Clean and Creative are fairly intuitive in the context of graphic design. Clean designs are uncluttered and effective. Designs that are creative have a unique quality and stay away from copycat ideas. But business-friendly might need a little explanation. When you understand my background, it will make more sense. Allow me a moment to share some of my personal history with you.

I came into the world of professional design through a very roundabout path. My undergraduate education is a bachelor of science degree majoring in business administration with an emphasis in accounting. Yes, a guy who now holds himself out as a creative whiz and expert visual communicator was once immersed in a world of financial statements, spreadsheets, and accounting jargon. Toward the end of my senior year, I considered the option of pursuing a master of accountancy degree and becoming a CPA, but there was something unsettling to me about the process and the result that caused me to back away from that path. I completed my degree and got a job as an accounting analyst for a local business form company. My checkered career path eventually led me to a management consulting firm where I had the opportunity to hone my graphic design skills on a variety of print and digital projects. That work, coupled with volunteer work from a decade of serving my church, enabled me to prepare a strong portfolio and earned me an interview for a graphic design position with Self Regional Healthcare.

After nine enjoyable months working at Self, my contracts there wrapped up. While I networked diligently for a full-time design job, I began taking on freelance projects. The volume of freelance work began to swell to the point that it surpassed the “odd jobs” stage. I then decided to launch AJ Design and begin promoting my services to a broader audience.

As my career history reveals, I am not primarily an artist who has decided to open up a design firm. On the contrary, I am a business professional who has developed a strong set of graphic design skills.

So what can you, a small business owner or manager, expect from a graphic design firm that holds itself out as business-friendly?

Your world runs on people doing what they promised. Mine does too. If I promise you will have a draft to review by 9:00 a.m. Thursday, it will be in your inbox on time. If we have an appointment for 3:30 p.m., I will be at your office by 3:25 p.m. If there is some unforeseen challenge impacts our agreed-to timeline for a project, we will discuss it as early as possible and develop a contingency plan.

Artistic Discipline
I don’t routinely doodle and daydream. I don’t have a huge body of unpublished artistic work. I am not an artist; I am a graphic designer. I won’t let “art for the sake of art” undermine the needs of my clients. The art serves the project, not the other way around.

Bottom-Line Sensitivity
Nothing sours a good business relationship like a blown budget. I work hard to make sure a project stays within the boundaries of the initial quote. I look for smart cost savings over the life of the project and pass those along to my clients whenever possible.

Work Ethic
You don’t take a day off when you feel like it. Neither do I. My clients can’t afford for me to work only when I feel inspired.  My work day begins around 8:00 a.m., and I rarely shut it down at 5:00 p.m. I may respond to emails at 9 o’clock in the evening, and sometimes I crack open the laptop and keep working on a project after the rest of my family goes to bed. God and family come first. But after that, I give myself to my work.

Occasionally, it makes sense for a business owner to get design work done on a shoestring budget. There are some great free software programs and services available today. There are also some very talented students who may be able to work for less than a professional designer. But in the majority of situations, you get what you pay for.

Don‘t get burned by a relationship with a designer or artist that doesn’t understand your needs as a business.