7 Worst Things to Say to a Graphic Designer

“People think that design is styling. Design is not style. It’s about giving a shape to the shell and not giving a damn about the guts. Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.”

– Paola Antonelli

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If you are a creative professional, working in an advertising agency or as a freelancer, you surely have stumbled upon clients from hell – or maybe, you are one of them, so read this with utmost attention. We all have a ton of funny stories with clients so confused about what they want, that eventually they will be either surprised of your work or shocked that you didn’t get them.

From “ Hey buddy, please make that bigger. And give it another color, ow and change the font, but I want everything to remain the same.” to “ I don’t understand. You are a freelancer. Doesn’t it mean that you work for free?” – these will never cease to exist, or to amuse us. The guys over at zerouno.org have created this really great project titled What not to say to a graphic designer“ In all these years (more than 10 now!) I’ve collected, in a series of post-it on my desk, all phrases that customers are saying and we (frustrated designers) hate to hear.”

If these posters hit close to home, or if you just like them, you can buy them right here. And here is the list with them, a list composed of 7 worst things to say to a graphic designer.

1. It’s got to be something with impact.


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Impact what? What are you trying to tell me? Please, use more details. But it is useless to use logic with a client from hell, but you have to at least try. You have to tackle them with diplomacy, and explain it to them like you would explain it to your five year old son. You see there lad, you can’t possibly make someone else understand what kind of “impact” you are trying to give to your campaign, unless you explain what your campaign is about.

And let’s say you explained this, giving details about what you want to be on the poster is a must. It will save you time, money and your sanity. In this hypothetical situation, your five year old son works at the same company as you. He is your copywriter. Most of them act and work as five year olds and they also make terrible clients.

2. Anyway, you are the designer, you know what to do.


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Of course, I am the designer, and I know how to do my job, but if you are not planning on telling me your end game, you won’t like it, you will require another rework, you won’t like that either, and we will both get frustrated and yell at each other. Let’s ease our work. Why don’t you take time of your busy schedule and talk to your designer. Explain to him what particularities you want to have.

3. It looks a bit empty, try to make everything bigger.


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Well, If I am going to make everything bigger, it will destroy the layout, I will basically have to get it reworked from scratch. And how much bigger do you want it? It will be a hassle if you want it to be seen from a smartphone, or a tablet. Trust your designer when he tells you that making everything bigger, doesn’t automatically mean that it will give it a better impact on your users, and, logically, the content will stay the same.

4. C’mon, it will only take a minute to do it.


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It will probably take longer than a minute. Let me rephrase that. It will surely take longer than a minute. It’s not like I’m going to snap my fingers and the work is going to magically get done, no, I have to take in mind a lot of variables, things that inexperienced people, like yourself, the client from hell, won’t even think of.

And the worst clients are the ones that seek work to be done, without even paying for it. They have the best excuse ever – C’mon, it will only take a minute to do it. That doesn’t justify you not paying. It can probably take a minute of my time, but it is my time, and I will bill you accordingly.

5. Just do what you think, I trust you.


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We truly appreciate when a client trusts us, and lets us work without getting hassled by them. But it comes a time in our projects that we must see feedback from our client, it is essential if we want to continue to work on it. Like I said before, take a couple of minutes from your busy schedule and talk to your designer. If he is a good one, he will request feedback at different phases of the project, so he can envision on what style to use further, or how to continue with it.

6. I’ve sent you the logo, is in word format, it’s okay?


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Well, to tell you frankly, no way is it okay in a word format. Ask your designer how to send it to him if you don’t have the knowledge to do so by yourself. It’s no shame in asking for help, and we appreciate that you don’t want to lose both of our times.

7. MMH, do you think it will be easy to read? Let’s make it bigger.


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Yes, I definitely think that it will be easy to read, because I know how to properly size my typesets. It will look out of place if I make it bigger. Trust your designer when he tells you that this is the way it should be, and not smaller, or bigger, or different.

You surely have stumbled upon clients from hell, and I bet you have funny stories. We would love to hear them, so why don’t you post in the comment section below. We could all need a good chuckle.

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