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Ailments of the Common Client

Posted on December 20, 2011

Category: General

The world of graphic design is a sticky gumbo, most of the time. This is because your bread and butter (clients) often come with more headaches than solution, and can really tarnish the experience of being your own employer. Not only that, but when most of the time you’d simply like to do your job and present a finished work, you find yourself ankle-deep in endless complaints and emails. However, as nightmarish as having clients can sometimes be, most of the problems you’ll encounter on-the-job are not unknown to us, or other designers. In fact, some are quite formulaic, and can be dealt with in a few simple steps. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a short list below of some of our choice client-based problems, as well as some thoughts on how to deal with them. This isn’t the strategy guide you’ve been waiting for, but it should help to smooth over a few problem areas.


  1. The Resolution is Too Low! We don’t know how many times a client has sent us an image they’re dead-set on using, only to discover later that it’s nowhere near the DPI necessary for a successful end print. What makes this worse is that the photo is usually from a close friend or family member of the client. Where you can, encourage the client to use high resolution stock photographs, or other media you have on hand that will work in the printing shop.
  2. Secondhand Stuff: Another common thread is the client demanding you use pre-existing materials, including logos, slogans, promotional materials, etc. Depending on the quality of the existing work, this might not be a problem: However, this is rarely the case. If your client wants you to use a terrible set of materials, do your best to dissuade them. Let them know that what you’re offering is work custom-tailored to their existing needs, and then an updated identity set may be the difference between existing success and continued growth.
  3. Make it Bigger: This complaint has reached the level of “in-joke” amongst designers. We can’t tell you the number of times a client has requested we up the size of a font, even when it completely screws over the project. Sadly, there isn’t much a fix for this, other than casual persuasion and your best efforts. Sometimes, there’s just no solution for a complaint a client has, and this is a great example.

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