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lomen_jan
Community Member

Bad taste rant

Hello creatives,

I wanted to start discussion about bad taste that clients insist on. 

That drives me mad to the point that I want to cancel the job and send them cornucopia of link regarding colour theory, typography, ratios, balance...

For example, if client brief says modern and I receive feedback that is "too modern" I am enraged. It is not an execution like Wolff Olins London Olimpics logo type of modernity.

On the other hand, clinets that are mundane, that have read atleast 100 books in their lives, are super easy to work with. Their comments are always objective criticism and not the contradictory remark in relation to their own brief.

I wonder; why someone hires a designer if they don't want unique, good design? I've heard that those one simply think that good design would put off the consumers because it would appear their product carry heftier price. I can take that as a valid argument, but i simply cannot be schooled by someone who wants me to break all the rules and force me to do something that only amateur can do.

Back to you guys. Do you have similar stories (of course you do)? How you handle that type of clients? How come that good design can be a bad thing? Tell me all. I consider this thread a safe zone for you to rant your soul out so you can have less frustration in your creative minds.

14 REPLIES 14
lisa_hoekstra
Community Member

I'm pretty sure that everyone has had this type of experience, regardless of industry! And you know what? It doesn't matter how many times we run into this personality type and it definitely doesn't matter if we understand what's driving their changes - it still sucks!! 

 

As for how I handle this type of client - I give myself two or three communications to politely shift them back into the correct direction (ie. to correct their misguided confusion). I'd say about 50% of the time, they end up realizing that what they're requesting is contrary to what they want in the first place! 

 

If I can't politely redirect the client, then I do exactly what they've requested and deal with the inevitable backlash. Then, when I'm done working on their project, I visit this site: http://clientsfromhell.net/

 

That site usually helps put my troubles in perspective. ๐Ÿ™‚


As for how I handle this type of client - I give myself two or three communications to politely shift them back into the correct direction (ie. to correct their misguided confusion). I'd say about 50% of the time, they end up realizing that what they're requesting is contrary to what they want in the first place! 

 

If I can't politely redirect the client, then I do exactly what they've requested and deal with the inevitable backlash. Then, when I'm done working on their project, I visit this site: http://clientsfromhell.net/

 

That site usually helps put my troubles in perspective. ๐Ÿ™‚


 I am also having this tactic, but dealing with client that insist on bad taste is like dealing with someone who wants to sabotage me (and I'm not talking about portfolio item design, I'm talking regular gigs like DTP and such).

ghammazjee
Community Member

You cannot handle a mentally upset persons, therefore, it is better leave them plitely. 

Let me ask you; Is the fear of high quality design real thing? 

zoomconcepts
Community Member

I wouldn't say it's fear of design itself. There's certainly fear of the price of good design... 

 

But in most of the other cases I think it's simply lack of aesthetic sense. I've had clients straight out discard good design concepts (mind you, good, not great - I'm not that vain) only to send me examples of those run-of-the-mill ready made tempates that online generators dish out - terrible fonts, no balance, no personal touch, AWFUL clipart. And tell me that they want something similar "but with more pizazz". And you can see that they genuinely like it. 

 

I'm usually a big fan of the 'educate your clients' approach but in some cases you either have to decline politely and move on, or close your eyes and slap that Monotype Corsiva in the heading. 

evetodew
Community Member

Same here. Usually I take the time to explain why some combination is good/aesthetically pleasant for the eyes, and also how and what emotions it affects, etc. When the client is open and communicative, approachable and considerate, they do understand my logic and go on with my suggestions. I still haven't had stubborn clients, but I've recently began participating in online contests and see how clients pick ugly and meaningless entries out of 150 entries, among which there are some amazing and beautiful designs. And they go for an ugly font and childish logos!! I am totally mind-blown at this utter lack of aesthetic sense! I wasn't even sure it's possible, but clearly it is. I've always believed that good/great design will be liked by everyone (because it is designed to subconsciously make you like it). But clearly, with lack of taste, even the best design won't win, when there's a cheap-looking one nearby.

 

I've seen great design go to the trash, because an ugly one has been picked. What a pitty!

@Evelina Z & everyone, if you don't want to have a collective impact of increasing income inequality please don't engage in those contests (unless maybe they are for a charitable cause). There are legitimately important reasons why unions are against spec work and crowdsourcing.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsstOs-K7gk

http://www.nospec.com/faq

Spec work is evil. I hate it, but it seems like it is going to be more and more way for clients to purchase design. I'm fine with that clients should pick their fitting designs, but I'm not fine with making all design process banal. Making a logo is part thinking, part communicating, part designing process and cannot be compared to designing diposable flyer to promote seasonal sale. 

Hmm, how is 99Designs a bad thing? That's what I meant by 'online contests'. Maybe I chose the wrong words. Otherwise, I don't see a problem with that. It has helped me at least improve my work immensely!!!


@Evelina Z wrote:

Hmm, how is 99Designs a bad thing? That's what I meant by 'online contests'. Maybe I chose the wrong words. Otherwise, I don't see a problem with that. It has helped me at least improve my work immensely!!!


In prospect, contest sites are more like betting and gambling than they are design. I tried them, posted a logo, recieved good feedback. since I'm not paid for it it is spec work that hurts design community. Perhaps it helps brush up your skills, but on a long run is just plain leeching from creatives like us. Imagine, everytime I did 99designs contest, I got a message from contest holder something that we call revision here.  And yeah, you can see bad logos win because obviosly good designers don't succumb for free. 

mixiekins
Community Member

Well, the approach that I've found to work the best for me, whenever I encounter a non-savvy client that tries to micro manage a project,  is the "educate your client" approach. There's something to be said about justifying why red and green is taboo for something that has no relation with Christmas and will be marketed to Western cultures (a nod to one of my ongoing high-maintenance private clients). ๐Ÿ˜‰

Something that needs a great deal of consideration is the need to educate your client. I want to stress this point that so many others have already covered; educating one's client is what we refer to as a "sunk cost," in that it's consultation we all do for free in the hopes that the "prospective costs" (what we all expect to walk away with as payment when all's said and done) will justify this investment. It's risky because:

  • One generally needs to do this in their interview to give the client enough confidence to pick oneself, and
  •  One needs to do this throughout the developmental phase (sketching/prototyping/first-draft/etc.)

 

Take this sunk cost into account when you assess if it's worth the effort. It's already tricky enough for us as it is, considering full-time freelancers need to:

  1. do their own sales (chasing down prospective clients and self-advertising),
  2. do their own HR (in my case, I'm from the US and can only attest to my experience in that this involves paying my own medical coverage and filing my own 1099, thanks to Upwork for not mediating this, by the way!!! UGH!),
  3. managing the project themselves (sure hope you're a "self starter!"),
  4. and act as the liaison between yourself, the worker, and the client (this normally would be handled by a boss/supervisor so you can be left in peace to actually work on the project delegated to you).

The list goes on and on, and all of this will generally not even occur to the client when they try to weigh the pros and cons of choosing a less-experienced cheap freelancer novice versus a vetted freelancer pro. ๐Ÿ˜ž

So, what can we do? Well, this comes back to educating one's client. It's common knowledge that an educator of any level has to have knowledge and experience on the subject they teach. A parent gives life-advice because they've already lived through it. A professor gives lectures because they got a degree studying a subject for X amount of years. So, it goes to reason that if one is able to educate another on a topic, they are apt in said topic. If your client can walk away from the project with some new insight or vocabulary, they're going to be more inclined to put their faith in you and let you do your job.

Just be personable and show with actions that you have a head on your shoulders. Anyone with sense will pick up on this (maybe with a little resistance depending on the thickness of their skull, but will eventually give way) when you give them some insight as to why you chose to do X versus Y. ๐Ÿ˜„


@Breanne C wrote:

Well, the approach that I've found to work the best for me, whenever I encounter a non-savvy client that tries to micromanage a project,  is the "educate your client" approach. There's something to be said about justifying why red and green is taboo for something that has no relation with Christmas and will be marketed to Western cultures (a nod to one of my ongoing high-maintenance private clients). ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Something that needs a great deal of consieration is the need to educate your client. I want to stress this point that so many others have already covered; educating one's client is what we refer to as a "sunk cost," in that it's consultation we all do for free in the hopes that the "prospective costs" (what we all expect to walk away with as payment when all's said and done) will justify this investment. It's risky because: 

  • One generally needs to do this in their interview to give the client enough confidence to pick oneself, and
  • One needs to do this throughout the developmental phase (sketching/prototyping/first-draft/etc.)

 

Take this sunk cost into account when you assess if it's worth the effort. It's already tricky enought for us as it is, considering full-time freelancers need to:

  1. do their own sales (chasing down prosepctive clients and self-advertising),
  2. do their own HR (in my case, I'm from the US and can only attest to my experience in that this involves paying my own medical coverage and filing my own 1099, thanks to Upwork for not mediating this, by the way!!! UGH!),
  3. managing the project themselves (sure hope you're a "self starter!"),
  4. and act as the liaison between yourself, the worker, and the client (this normally would be handled by a boss/supervisor so you can be left in peace to actually work on the project delegated to you).

 

The list goes on and on, and all of this will generally not even occur to the client when they try to weigh the pros and cons of choosing a less-experienced cheap freelancer novice versus a vetted freelancer pro. ๐Ÿ˜ž

 

So, what can we do? Well, this comes back to educating one's client. It's common knowledge that an educator of any level has to have knowledge and experience on the subject they teach. A parent gives life-advice because they've already lived through it. A proffessor gives lectures because they got a degree studying a subject for X amount of years. So, it goes to reason that if one is able to educate another on a topic, they are apt in said topic. If your client can walk away from the project with some new insight or volcabulary, they're going to be more inclined to put their faith in you and let you do your job.

 

Just be personable and show with actions that you have a head on your shoulders. Anyone with sense will pick up on this (maybe with a little resistance depending on the thickness of their skull, but will eventually give way) when you give them some insight as to why you chose to do X versus Y. ๐Ÿ˜„


Hello Breanne and thanks for stopping by and you are perfect to discuss on the topic.

Let's say that I'm having most of my "taste" issues with American clients and I don't want it to grow towards  bias that Americans don't have a aestetic receptors sharp, because I know that you have whole a lot of superb designers that can be treated as role models or even trailblazers of design. 

I kinda fail when it comes to "educating clients". I don't use industry lingo and I am quite sincere and direct. 

Let's say clients show you what he (or someone) did as a mock-up and my job would be to zhoosh it up.

I detect flaws and correct them. I explain them why I did it and back it up with knowledge. Not going too deep into color theory, balance, grid and typography.  I submit them my work, they find it beautiful, but they would like to see their mock up redone. I did that and point flaws. Despite the fact I slavishly did whatever they requested, it ends up in 2 scenarios:

 

Scenario 1)

You are not good designer because you cann't follow instructions.

Scenario 2)

You did our idea ugly on purpose so you can push your idea.

 

 I wish clients should be aware that designers are professionals who take their craft with pride.  Said that,my portfolio is  kinda empty and much artistic. Why? I simply don't want to fill my portfolio with work that clients forced me to arrange on their preference (What in, best case scenario ends up as a clichee) or stuff i ghost-designed for other designers. I did it for the money and even best designers out there don't do portfolio worthy designs all the time. I can run with that. Will the lack of mediocre jobs in my portfolio cost me getting more jobs? Probably yes. Is my Portfolio strategy good? I want to believe that, on the long run,  yes. Correct me if I think wrong.

 

Now back to bad taste. I guess that some clients can't handle critique. As they are paying customer they think that money gives them right to question your expertize and demand that their idea is set in stone. I take their ideas just as input. But I do in their best interest and I genuinely care about their business. If that's not professional, I seriously don't know what is.

This all bad taste rant theard is about what is best way to educate client, cause I feel that I'm failing in that area by being patient and polite. OK, I add a bit of humor in it, but not in crude way of humor I enjoy so much. 

I am to geeky? Am I too soft? The other part of the thread would be about client's butchering designs after delivery.  

Now vent yourselves off my creatives.

 

 

Hi Jan! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Just because you did a piece of art for commission doesn't mean it has to be plastered on your portfolio. There's plenty of work I've done for clients that I don't show off. A good deal of what's in my portfolio is personal/practice or things I did as gifts. What it boils down to is that the client calls the shots because the art is being made for them, not for you. Sure, it's your art, but it's not made for you. So long as it serves the client's purpose and makes the client happy, you've done your part and get paid as a result.

 

Of course, if you want something amazing that speaks of your soul and sings about all your abilities, you'll be hard-pressed to find a commissioned project that shows off all of your abilities. Commissioned art generally needs to serve a specific purpose and is used by clients as tools-- it's utilitarian art. Of course, you do need to apply yourself when working on things for your clients, so maybe you'll have one project that can show your ability with X, or another for Y. However, if you want both X and Y (and more) abilities shown in one piece, it wouldn't hurt to do a project of your own for practice that can showcase those abilities. ๐Ÿ˜„

Breanne C wrote:

 

Just because you did a piece of art for commission doesn't mean it has to be plastered on your portfolio. There's plenty of work I've done for clients that I don't show off. A good deal of what's in my portfolio is personal/practice or things I did as gifts. What it boils down to is that the client calls the shots because the art is being made for them, not for you. Sure, it's your art, but it's not made for you. So long as it serves the client's purpose and makes the client happy, you've done your part and get paid as a result.

 

 There is a difference between commissioned art and illustration. There is a difference between art and design.

Even utilitarian art allows you to chose your own palette, shapes, composition.  Client wants some cool graphic poster art to give some pop of colour in his/her minimalist cold designed interiors. That is commissioned art.

If clients wants logo - that is design. Design can be artsy of sort, but principles of design are way more strict than art itself. Said that, the safe option is to design a clichee. Most clients want just that. It can look nice, and truth to be said, after some time I can deliver clichee quite fast.  But people are usually without real ideas, they always want something they already seen. Most of the time is just plain jumping on the bandwagon. 

I understand visual codes, associations and I do not neglect their presence and meaning, I take them into the account and also take minuscule details into it too, but hell, revisions are sometimes like deliberately design rule breaking to say at least.  

It is easier to build up portfolio on your pet projects, but most of the clients think that I have zero comercial design experience (which is not true). I just don't like ads, stock photos and don't get me started on lousy copy that i have to put in. I am always shocked how lately sexist, racist or just wrongfully stupid briefs and copy are delivered. to me.

Those are usualy clients that insist on bad taste and have remarks about how they find design gay (despite the fact that I delivered clean, gender neutral design with general appeal).  When client wants to hire a designer, he must take into account that I know much more about design that he /she is. Period. If client wants to help, he can deliver me all the relevant data (competition, history, personal touches that he wants to emphasize and similar), that help way more that micromanaging design process with "make my logo bigger".

Stay safe.