Thursday, January 3, 2013

Designer drama.

Being a graphics designer can be an enjoyable and fulfilling job at times. When things are going good, the wide variety of projects and the challenge they may present can become a playground for the creative mind. But as good of a gig as it can be when things are going well, it surely isn't free off frustration on lesser days. Sometimes they are minor issues, but other times you just want to step back and stare in disbelief.

Some of the simpler things are contradictory revisions, or incredibly vague requests. There are often times when I need to request artwork from clients. Be it their logo, or some other artwork that they would like to include in their project, I will request it in a specific format in order to save time and to save the client the money of having me recreate artwork that has already been done. Invariably, I'll receive low resolution jpg files instead of what was requested. When I then request the artwork in a different format, I then get the same files again, asking "How about these?"... One time I had a customer send the same files three times until they realized that they didn't have what was needed. Other times customers will simply change the extension on the file and think that will magically transform the artwork from the raster format the artwork was in, to the needed vector format. Other minor frustrations come up when proofing design options to a customer. Often time we will provide clients with multiple options to select from. Yet from time to time, I will receive a reply that simply says, "Looks good!". No selection, just 'looks good'. Other times still, we will provide a proof that is exactly what the customer asked for, and others that are more along the lines of what we think would be best for their project. Yet, even though the options I came up with are improvements over what they requested, and often one will be head and shoulders the best option for them to select, the client will still approve the proof that is what they asked for originally. While this may be disappointing, as you feel the customer isn't getting the best product, or that you wasted time working on those other options, that's just the way the cookie crumbles. The client is the one paying and making the final decision, you come to live with those instances. There's other things that can cause annoyance, like the clients that act like they are the experts and know more about design than anyone, but the biggest issue can come from internal conflict.

Recall that instance where the client approved the proof that I would deem as substandard. I've worked with a coworker before that could not simply accept the client selecting the proof that they did. To him, which proof he liked best was more important than what the customer wanted. He would go to the point of contacting the client again to ask them if they are sure they wanted the proof they asked for and suggesting they should go with the one that he likes. That is something you just don't do in the design profession. By doing that, you are running the risk of insulting the client, and sounding like you know better than them, or as a slight to the client's taste or intelligence. Design isn't purely art, but like art it is subjective. What the client likes, is what they client likes. What you like may not be what I like. One thing that is important to remember is that the customer is the one paying, and that they are the one selecting the design they like and will use for their advertising needs. One time we actually had artwork provided by a client. All we had to do was print it, yet this coworker didn't like it. Again, even though it was customer approved (and provided), he wanted to try to get them to let him change it even though it was already printed and up against he deadline. Another instance with this co-worker revolved around editing a customer's logo. There is one thing to recognize to be true in the design world. You do not screw with someone's logo. A logo is the centerpiece to a company's identity and advertising. It is to remain consistent and unchanging in order to build brand equity. All that considered, we had a job that was a sign of the client's logo. Yet this coworker once more wasn't happy with it. The logo didn't meet with his preference. Never mind that the paying customer is happy with it. Ignoring the fact that the customer incurred expense on the logo, took the time to craft the logo, is happy with the logo, and that the don't screw with someone's logo, he decided to go about changing it. Changing colors, removing elements, adding strokes, changing positions or elements, until it was noticeably different than the logo that the client started with. Personally, I also felt that the original was better than his unrequested edits. To make things worse, this customer was very particular to begin with, so you can imagine that they didn't take it lightly when he received that proof that included wholesale changes to his logo.

Being a designer can be rewarding, but it certainly isn't all the time. Especially when you face difficult customers, or coworkers that seem determined to break 'the rules'. Luckily those people are a minority of those you will interact with. But when you do they can certainly try your patience. The best you can do is deal with them when you face them and enjoy the times that you don't. Do those things and a creative mind will stay creative, and stave off frustration.

-BH

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