Hi. I’m Colleen Gratzer. I'm a designer, accessibility specialist, educator and mentor. I’ve been in the design industry since 1997.
I’m chief creative officer and accessibility specialist at Gratzer Graphics, which I started in 2003 as a design business.
I did all the things, taking on anything and everything, catering to pretty much every client whim.
After about 10 years, despite always being busy and making good money, I found myself completely fed up with my business.
I wasn’t in control of it. Clients were.
I found it difficult to get new clients and I wasn’t getting the work I wanted. I wasted so much time writing proposals, responding to RFPs and having meetings with clients that went nowhere.
They would always pick someone else—
- A designer who charged less,
- A designer who charged more,
- A designer with more experience in a particular niche or industry,
- A designer who wasn’t even usually better skilled,
- A designer who was clearly more confident with selling (which would make me sweat bullets).
I was drained from dealing with late-paying clients.
I was fed up with bully clients.
I had no focus.
I hated the sales process.
I felt stuck. I cried a lot out of frustration.
I invested in coaching and some business and marketing courses. Some of it helped, but I kept wondering when I would gain some real traction.
Then one day in 2016, I got into accessibility by accident.
I was interested in it because it merges design with technical, and I like that. I also liked that my work would help more people—people who shouldn’t be excluded in the first place—and have bigger impact.
At first, I wondered if I’d just invested in new skills that I would not be able to put into practice much. After all, I really didn’t have any clients asking for this work at that time.
But what happened next was totally unexpected.
My business took a huge turn—for the better.
I started talking about accessibility, and I started getting that work. At first, it was here and there, and then it was like a snowball effect.
Soon, clients started coming to me from all over the world for this work.
I become so much more confident when talking to clients—in meetings, presenting work and explaining design decisions. The work was more profitable too.
I got a ton more respect than I had in the past.
I eliminated 99% of the competition. I won most of the jobs I estimated, and the sales process became so much easier!
Clients stopped questioning my pricing.
I got almost no pushback on my designs.
This was the change my business needed. This was the change I needed.
But I knew I wasn’t the only designer out there who had dealt with these same exact issues.
So in 2018, I started Creative Boost and the Design Domination podcast.
My mission is to help designers gain confidence, clarity and a competitive edge over other designers.
Accessibility is one way I help them do that. I also mentor designers and share my lessons and mistakes over the years.
I am a member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP).
I'm also a Brand Academy™ Certified Branding Expert.
The Design Domination Podcast
On the podcast, I share my real-world graphic design and business expertise—what I've learned, what I’ve done right, what I could have done better, accessibility insights and more. Hear more about why I started the podcast.
I've appeared on several podcasts and blogs and at events: