Hiring a Chip Designer Overview In order to engage a chip designer, all you fundamentally need to do is start a thread asking for help. But a message that simply states, "help, i need some good chip designs" my not garner as much response as it could. So, what goes into an inquiry that will get positive notice? One rule of thumb is that the more information you can provide about what you envision, the more interest you are likely to generate. If you already have solid ideas about the design, outline them. If you know whether you want hotstamps, inlays or labels, make that clear. If you know which company you will be using, include that in your post. If you are torn between two possibilities, include that, as well--some designers have experience designing for multiple companies and can make recommendations based on your needs. If you are willing to pay (or not), say so. If you have a deadline, include it in your post. Why is all this important? When designers consider taking on a job, it helps if they have a rough idea of what they will be in for if they accept. To do that, they need to know as much as possible. Generic messages like "Help, I can't design a thing!" don't do much in that regard. The more details, the more interest you will generate. Obviously, depending on the circumstances this isn't always possible or necessary--but as long as you're honest with your prospective designer upfront, then he or she can decide how much information s/he is comfortable working with. The Process So, you've posted your request, and now you have folks replying. If you're lucky, you'll get more than one to choose from, at which point you have to make a decision. Some threads seem to generate ideas right off the bat, and you'll have mockups posted that you can choose from. Other times you'll just get a reply or a PM indicating interest. Each situation will be different, but as long as you're honest and polite with folks, it shouldn't be a problem to say "no thanks" and go with the designer you like best. In the case of a thread in which folks simply reply showing interest or reply indicating that there has been a "PM Sent," be sure to respond in the thread and let future prospective designers know whether the request is still open or not. Someone might see your thread a week later, see that some response was shown, but then not know whether or not you settled on someone. Designers/responders should NOT post a "PM Sent" message since it is both unnecessary (the recipient gets notified by email and popup that they have a PM) and is a form of advertising which is not allowed in public forums. There will also be times when the stars are not aligning and you aren't getting ANY response. Don't take it personally. Sometimes designers take a break from the site, or they will be slammed with other work. Perhaps they simply don't find your idea interesting. In such a case you should just bump your thread every few days and be patient. Compensation is extremely varied. Some folks will do it for free, some for a sample set or two, and some will want money. It depends on the designer, their workload, their interest level, their mood... all you can do is negotiate with them and come to an agreement. Once you've settled on a designer, and the both of you have agreed to the terms, then you'll begin to see mockups from the designer. To reiterate, it will really help the process if you have a solid idea of what you want beforehand. If you don't, it will be more difficult to give feedback to the designer once you see what has been produced for you. The Finished Design Finally, after days, weeks, or even months of working with a design, it's finished. But that is not the end of the project—your chips still must be produced! At this point you must come to a decision, if you haven't already, about who will be producing your chips (with inlays or hotstamps) or your labels. The designer may or may not have experience working with your chosen vendor, so be prepared to help him or her gather whatever information is needed to complete the project. Every vendor has its own way of doing things, and few bother to outline all of the necessary technical specs for production on their web sites. In other words, even when the design is "finished" to your eye, it may not yet be ready to be produced, and your designer may have to make changes to the files in order to comply with what each vendor may need. Be prepared to inquire about things such as what file formats your vendor prefers, which color space it prints with (RGB or CMYK) and whether or not it can supply you with color formulas if you need to match chip colors. Having this information is critical for a design that not only looks good on your computer screen, but also will reproduce well for your chips. In addition, when you get your proofs back from the printer or manufacturer, include your designer in the proofing process. No one knows the design better, and an experienced designer can often spot problems that you miss. Last but not Least Once the proofs have been approved and the chips (or labels) are safely in production, all that's left for you to do is to honor your end of the agreement you made with your designer, so he will be enthusiastic and ready to take on another chip design project for members of ChipTalk.