“To know that you do not know is the best.
To think you know when you do not is a disease.
Recognizing this disease as a disease is to be free of it.”
― Lao Tzu
“The client from hell” is a famous cry from so many Graphic Designers. Although, I doubt this is a situation unique to Graphic Designers. However, this is an article written from a designer’s point of view so I digress. Most clients from hell are mostly a product of ignorance, hence the above quote or just people with really bad etiquette.
Instead of making this an article that bashes such clients, this will be a good chance to educate at least the open minded ones prior to their next appointment with a graphic design professional. Here are a few things it would help to know first so as to not acquire the tag in the title of this blog.
Graphic Designers are educated professionals
It is safe to say that just like you most graphic designers obtained a college education, which cost time, money and effort. If you didn't go to college you are not excluded either and there’s something for you also in this article. As with most professions there are those who are renowned in their crafts, there are those who pursued their respective field for the passion, the professional respect and to earn an honest living; yet there are those who are in it for the money and to possibly get one over the client. It is quite understandable if a client is cautious and has doubt about whom and how their money is spent. Prior to going to designer you should research or look up samples of their work. If you are happy with what you see then go ahead and contact them in confidence knowing that they will provide you with the best service. Find out about the cost of your project? Can you afford it? Does the designer have payment plans in place that will allow for you to proceed with the project? If you still can’t afford it you should budget for it and come back at a later date. Finally, trust in their judgment that they are after your best interest. After all the work they do represents them. Treat them with the same respect you would expect to be treated with as a fellow professional. If you could do it yourself and get it done right you wouldn't need a designer.
Rules and tools
As with most professions or trades there are rules and practices that govern it. Such rules in the case of graphic design would include things like software used to complete the project, the design process, psychology, the nature of project, professional integrity etc. Some rules are aesthetic in nature; others are practical and can be bent. Going a bit further graphic designers use Adobe creative soft wares because it is industrial standard and gets the job done best. Psychology: the target audience and the nature of the project often determine the choices that the designer puts into a design. A corporate design would be different from a mom-pop store design. Design process: a consultation helps determine what a client’s project is about, the intensity of the project and the time it will take to complete; sketches, computer aided rendering, revisions and final product; billing (hourly or flat fee), contracts (to protect both parties interests). The list is exhaustive but this gives you as a client some ideas of why things are the way they are.
What Graphic Design is and isn't
The purpose of Graphic Design in its purest of form is to solve visual problem and not necessarily look pretty. A good example is the clean and uncluttered red “stop sign”. Why? Red means danger and most people in our society recognize and accept that. The sign warns people; its simple nature communicates that point quickly enough to a driver. It is not to be admired and bought. On the flip side products require attractive packaging to influence the buyer and to stand out from the other packaged products fighting for the consumers’ attention. Unlike the stop sign products require that aesthetic appeal to attract as well as the proper information presented in a legible way for the consumer to make their choices. The choice a designer makes is determined by the nature of the project.
Graphic design isn’t about getting on the computer and throwing pretty fonts and pictures together. Different fonts and images communicate different things in different contexts. It isn’t about plastering the surface of a magazine or product with as much images as one can. Why? Sometimes less is more hence the dreaded negative space (white space) a lot of clients hate. Think about that red stop sign with so much artsy stuff around it would detract from its purpose.
Graphic design isn’t easy like magic and to be expected to be done at the snap of a finger. So, when a client says, “Work your magic.”, “Make it pop.” and more of such phrases. It makes no sense to the designer, makes the client sound stupid, and implies that it doesn’t take skills, effort and thought to do.
If you don’t know what “The Golden Rule” is, it basically says to treat others how you would want to be treated. In other words if you are running late to an appointment call and let the designer know; Come prepared to your consultation. If you know what you want both parties are happy. If you don’t know what is the appropriate thing to want then defer to the designer. Pay your bills when they are due. The designer has financial needs as well. If you can’t afford his or her prices don’t enter into that transaction. Find another designer that might suit your budget. However, don’t expect the same level of work to be done. Don’t bring an important project to a designer at the last minute expecting magic. Graphic design isn't magic. The designer has a life and other clients as well. In the event he/she takes up your late work expect to either pay more or not get the same quality that a well- planned out project would receive. Make your request but trust the designer’s judgment unless it’s not something that pertains to design.
It is safe to say that clients from hell are a product of ignorance. Hopefully, this article has informed you on what to do and what not to do to avoid that tag. When designer and client can work in harmony business flows smoothly.
Also check out frequently asked questions by client and design terms clients should know.