In the 20 years that I have been in advertising, oftentimes than not, clients approach me having absolutely no idea how to begin their project nor what is entailed. Having had come from the ‘pre-computer generation’, quality has always been my main concern as well as developing relationships and educating each client. With technology moving so quickly, design firms are truly a ‘dime a dozen’ and the most common question:‘where on earth do I find a firm who will not only deliver what I need but, more importantly, where do I find someone I can trust?’ Although most design firms rely on the computer (please note that the designers ‘tool of the trade’ is primarily the Macintosh… ahum…) it is vitally important that designers and graphic artists have an in- depth knowledge and understanding about traditional design and production which, unfortunately, is not the case of many today. As in any field, there are basic rules to know before ‘you can run free’ and many of the fundamental rules of yesterday still apply strongly today. The only difference between agencies of today and yesterday is that 20 years ago typically an advertising agency was filled with mechanical tables, drawing boards, tracing pads, ruling pens, stat cameras, pica rulers, etc., but deadlines were always met, good design was enforced, and quality was always the main concern. For those of us who survived the ‘computer transition’ that truth remains today. Understanding the confusing process of acquiring and trusting a good design firm, I have decided to compile some basic guidelines over the next few weeks for the non-professional to learn before committing to any agency or publisher. In this field, unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss, and I have seen too many people being taken advantage of over and over again because ‘they didn’t know the drill’ nor that they had ‘the right’ to interview a design firm before any commitment was made. An ad campaign, corporate identity make-over or book design should never be a ‘nightmare’ experience with any design firm and hopefully, this blog will educate the inexperienced to be better equipped in choosing the right person for their project. It is my strong belief that experience and knowledge surpass any latest computer software program. As with anything, if the programmer does not know what to program, the computer is a useless tool. However, extensive knowledge and talent added to the computer creates the dynamics that are powerful. The best to each of you and may your journey be enlightening, encouraging and educational!