Job spotlight: Dean Justice, owner of D3 Designs

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 3, 2014 

Dean Justice acknowledges he kind of stumbled into the profession of graphic design after buying a computer on QVC with a simple version of Adobe Photoshop.

Then a friend from Atlanta who is a designer took him under his wing, so to speak, and taught him the intricacies of using colors and shapes and techniques to make a business card or brochure pop out and catch customers' eyes.

That was more than three years ago and it led Justice, 30, a Columbus native, to opening his own company, D3 Designs, inside his family's Justice Accounting and Consulting Firm office on Whitesville Road.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the 2012 median pay for a graphic designer was $44,150 per year or $21.22 per hour. The job is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade, with 17,400 positions being created on top of the 259,500 that already exist.

The Ledger-Enquirer talked with Justice recently to get his thoughts on the profession. This interview is edited a bit for clarity.

What do you do as a graphic designer?

My job as a graphic designer for D3 Designs is to ensure that clients are able to articulate through art what they want their own clients to see. The majority of time spent in designing for my clients is spent in research. To properly create a logo, business card design, brochure design or any other marketing media, one must understand the industry in which they are designing for.

Colors of logos and other images impact the effect?

Colors can mean the difference between you becoming a successful business, struggling to survive or failing all together. A hospital or other medically affiliated company would not want to use green in their design scheme, as green we relate with being sick. However, green is great for landscaping, accounting, banking and a host of other industries because it means wealth and prosperity in the life of the business.

Who are your typical customers?

My clients are typically those small-business owners who are perplexed and overwhelmed at the idea of marketing themselves, or know how to market themselves but can't quite lock down that one idea that will make them take off.

I sit down, virtually side-by-side, with all my clients. I've sent as many as 20 drafts between myself and a client before because they wanted to see their ideas on the drawing board before making them become reality.

Are business cards and brochures more popular than the web design you do?

I probably do business cards more than anything. ... D3 Designs helps companies brand themselves, not only through the logo and through the imagery, but also through giving people tips and hints and advice about customer service and how they should market their product, what they should look for with their colors and backgrounds, how they can catch the customer's eye.

Are there any design no-no's?

Using PowerPoint and Word. I notice there are a lot of people who use those and very generic looking texts and fonts like comic sans or times new roman or arial. I go to a free font source like and look for crazy fonts and see what I can come up with.

Depending upon what you're trying to do, you may want to have an icon ... the best example I can think of is Norton and McAfee. You know them by that icon. State Farm is the same thing. You can take the name State Farm out of it and just use their little icon they've had for the last 100-something years. There's also McDonald's, with the golden arches.

A graphic designer must spend so much time in front of a computer?

Absolutely. Most of our time, I would say probably 60 or 65 percent of a graphic designers time, is spent on Google and other research media trying to find out the company and the industry that they're helping out with.

A good graphic designer will sit down with his client and try to come up with an idea of what they're looking for. ... I go for more of a relationship with my clients. I try to understand what they want. My job is to work side by side with them. Because I have the tools and resources and knowledge necessary, my job is to get inside their heads and find out what they want and create what they would have created if they had the knowledge themselves to do it.

What's the most challenging aspect of your job?

Getting inside my clients' heads and trying to figure out exactly what it is that they want. ... Probably the hardest part of this job is making clients understand that their preferences, a lot of times, are not what they want to put in their business. ... There's a lot of consultation that goes into that because some clients think they know what they want. You've got to kind of walk them away from that and make them understand their idea isn't necessarily bad, but if it was my company, I would do it a little differently, and that's why I would do it a particular way.

What's the most rewarding part of your job?

When I'm able to create that one-and-done logo, I call it, where the client looks at it and says, 'That's it! That's what I had in my head!'

But, the bottom line, a business card design can make you or break you?

A lot of people don't realize how important the logo on the business card is. But an average client is going to take a look at your business card and take about three seconds to decide whether or not they're going to do business with you. If they decide not to do business with you, you've only got one chance within about that next three-year period to get their attention again, and if you don't, you lose them forever.

That's probably the biggest thing, is getting my clients to understand that imagery -- what you decide to do with that logo or business card -- can either make your business take off, or it can affect it detrimentally to the point that you just about never recover.


Name: Dean Justice

Age: 30

Hometown: Columbus

Current residence: Columbus

Family: Single

Education: 2001 graduate of Columbus High School; attended Columbus Technical College; currently a junior pursuing an accounting degree from Columbus State University

Previous jobs: Started working with Olympia Sales Club at age 9; has also sold cellphones and service for Sprint, life insurance policies for American General Life, and once was a bank teller with Columbus Bank and Trust.

Of note: Enjoys performing with the Justice Family Bluegrass band, which includes his parents; Dean says D3 Designs is also an independent distributor of both Herbalife and It Works! Global.

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