Design – Designation or Prostitution?

Design Marionette

Designers are not the only victims when it comes to client abuse. I realise that there are several designations where clients feel they pay us to be their monkey-wrenches. As I get a bit older, I realise that a lot of this abuse is frustration caused by a combination of miscommunication, inexperience and immaturity.

As a student, I had passed most subjects cum laude. I came first nationally in most my subjects. I was unbreakable. I was not going to let anyone tell me how to do my job, even if they paid me all the money in the world. As a young designer, I was cocky and supremely self assured. I was building my portfolio, and I wanted it to reflect my skills, not my clients skills. My attitude was way more destructive than productive. I was telling anyone who was willing to listen how unfair the design-world was: “No one would tell a dentist to do their job.” & “Why does every creatively-challenged retard think they’re a designer?” & “Why does every client want to change things, just to put their fingerprint on my perfectly balanced design.”

Obviously the bounty for being a childish, enraged, ill-equipped designer was not very high. My bullheadedness did not result in phenomenal communication skills either. I felt like a prostitute every time I had to give in to a clients design opinion. I felt used, and I fought them as much as I could. I had misplaced inexperience and immaturity for passion and pride.

I am by no means cured from all my bullheadedness. I’m still confident in my work. I have learned however that clients are people, that pay for a product. A clients bad taste does not make you a prostitute – It makes him a tricky client. You need patience, you need good communication skills, and you need to learn how to compromise. You need to fight less and sell more. Always remember, when clients drive you insane with unrealistic expectations – Woosah…

Do less.


13 thoughts on “Design – Designation or Prostitution?

  1. Matt says:

    You could also ‘fire’ the client.. it’s been done and from what I hear, the designers are happier 🙂

  2. RV says:

    Ok first things first. Awesome Pic.

    Secondly, in most cases, you have too many cooks involved, and inevitably you get the broth spoiled beyond repair. A wants yellow, B wants purple, C wants it black with pink polka dots, and so forth.

    I think if there was 1 person as the go between, a person who would deal with the client, get their input, understand their requirements, and have a bit of free reign on some matters, who would then deal with the designer and flesh out the design specs, and end up with an awesome design, sans all the back and forth BS.

    And last but not least: A, B and C needs to have a sit down and discuss WTF they want to achieve with the design. Make a decision on what direction you want, what elements would be involved, what color scheme you think would best represent your company and its message. Then, and only then, chat to said go between and give them the brief and all its requirements.

    But sadly, this almost never happens does it……

    • ingemm says:

      Thanks. Fair comments. And yes, it does in some cases help to have a strong, decisive project manager. Having good direction does shorten the process, and leads to less stress. But all of this does not necessarily result in a good design. Sometimes when people do less, and trust designers to do their work, the result is even better. Getting the right contractor to do your design work is almost like dating. You have to check out their profile. You can’t hire a niche, clean, white-space obsessed designer, when you want flourishy, retro, filled-to-the-brink designs. All this is obviously relevant to the designers flexibility. There are too many variables to really pre-program a perfect business relationship.

  3. tcjacks says:

    Your boss is reading this, isn’t he/she? 😉

    Wanting to portray your company & it’s brand, that you babysat for the past five years, in the best possible light is not immaturity or stubbornness on a designers part, or at least I don’t think so.

    I dunno, perhaps I put to much of myself into my work, best is to tone it down a bit and just go with the flow, after all, I just work here.

    • ingemm says:

      Yes, it does sometimes feel like people are doing South American plastic surgery on your newborn design. I’m not being sucked in to the black hole of design-prostitution. I’m preaching communication and compromise on both ends of the table.

  4. tcjacks says:

    So if I’m getting this right, designers should sharpen up on skills of seduction. Ironic isn’t it.

    • ingemm says:

      *Grin* Very ironic. Keep in mind we are selling a product, not ourselves. Even if we put a lot of ourselves in our product. 😉

    • ingemm says:

      Little Black Dresses will only end in messes. But good design selling skills will save you. 😛

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