TerDawn DeBoe: My Son, My Client

TERDAWN FEATURE
TerDawn DeBoe is a graphic designer, mother and CEO of her own business consulting and marketing agency. She wrote this piece about serving her most valued client – her son – and she offers takeaways from the experience to remember when serving your own graphic design clients.
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A few months ago, my son approached me when he got home from school. I knew something was different because there was a twinkle in his eye that was brighter than usual. “Mom! Winter Formal is coming up and I’m running for Winter Formal Prince!” he said with a bright smile. “That sounds like fun,” I replied and before I could say anything else, he excitedly continued “This campaign HAS to be creative and we need to start thinking of ideas now!” 
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I smiled because I saw a younger, male version of myself ready to think outside of the box. His wheels were turning and I was preparing myself for the ride. A few days later, as if struck by lightning, he came back to me struck by inspiration. “I’ve got it!” he exclaimed. He proceeded to tell me about a Netflix poster entitled, “Homecoming King” featuring Hasan Minhaj. He asked if I could photoshop his head on Hasan’s body and change the name to “Winter Formal Prince”  for his poster. I loved the idea, and I went to work to bring his idea to life because his dream was in my hands and I couldn’t let him down. 

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CHARLES

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After designing the poster, he was even more excited to print it out and post it all around the school. The student body went crazy when he revealed what we’d worked on. The Principal even came up to him and said he’d never seen something so creatively done for a Winter Formal campaign and gave him a pat on the back. It was a success! 

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On the day of the announcement, my son Facetimed me from school nervous about what would happen. I didn’t tell him at the time because I had to be the pillar of confidence, but my stomach had flutters of excited nervousness, as well. Instead, I gave him some words of encouragement, letting him know he had it in the bag. Then, I distracted myself by working so I wouldn’t be thinking about the outcome. A few hours later, I get a text with a video of them making an announcement that he won at the pep rally. I jumped up and screamed as if I was there and sent him a message congratulating him. As a designer, creativity is my fuel. Here’s how I tap into my creativity when designing.

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  • Treat Each Idea As If It Is Your Own 

Having several years of experience and education as a graphic designer, I’ve learned how important it is to treat each clients’ ideas as if it was your own. You are a co-creator on a vision they’ve been given and it’s up to you to take their direction and add your own style to it. This was my way to take my son’s extraordinary idea and help him communicate it to his classmates effectively using my toolbox of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Asking the right questions and allowing yourself to be unbiased is very instrumental to client (and designer) satisfaction.

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  • Think Outside The Box 

Inspiration can come from anywhere. My son’s mind sparked when he saw the poster for a movie and he allowed himself to think out of the box to envision what type of feeling he wanted to invoke when the students saw it. As designers, it can be easy to let creativity and imagination die down when we are working on repetitive projects that may require that we hold back. However, getting into the habit of allowing yourself to become a child again can help you see the world in a fresh, new way. The people who remove the limitations of thinking can change the world with a single thought. 

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  • The Right Design Will Always Make You Stand Out

Great design stands out in the minds of the people who see it and can influence their choices, both deliberately and subconsciously. By nature, people like to associate with things that look good and make them feel good. Using Photo-manipulation, Vector, and Typography, I was able to create a unique design that nobody had seen before and allowed my son to stand out in front of his peers and the leaders of the school. When it was time to vote, I can almost guarantee that a glimpse of his poster ran through their minds as a subtle reminder that they were making the best choice. 

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This was truly a beautiful moment in time and it allowed me to reflect on the key elements that are essential to completing a successful design project.