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Designers graphically represent awful client feedback [30 pictures]

Jan 21, 2013 By Abraham

In the spirit of Clients from Hell, several Irish creative companies joined forces on a series called “Sharp Suits”

Ad creatives, designers, animators, directors, illustrators and more took time out to dress up their favourite worst feedback from clients, transforming quotes that would normally give you a twitch, into a diverse collection of posters.

As a non-designer, I think the popularity of mocking the people that keep designers employed is kind of petty and patronizing…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t funny.

So…here are lots of the best examples. And there are even more at their site


  1. A. says:

    As a Graphic Designer, These just made my day. I want them in my office, all over the walls, like amazingly wonderful wallpaper.

  2. Rosana says:

    As a designer and illustrator, I just want to say that I sympathize with every one of these posters. They’re hilarious. Also, it is amazing how worldwide these things are. We swear it’s not about being patronizing, it’s just that its a very frustrating and common issue for your employers to say things like this. So much so that a series of posters was made about it.

    1. Daniel says:

      I agree wholeheartedly. This isn’t about being petty. It’s poking fun at [most times] absence of common sense.

      (The printing of an animated GIF kills me, by the way.)

      The equivalent of this in a different business might be me going to my dealership mechanic and saying “I know the engine is making a loud clanging sound, but could you just install louder speakers so I don’t hear it anymore?”
      Most clients don’t know what to say (naturally so, because its not their expertise), but they feel compelled to say something regardless if it makes any sense.
      Maybe that’s not a perfect example, but I hope the point comes across, albeit, clumsily.

      I’d say these posters are more about illustrating silliness than anything else.

  3. Anna says:

    I feel their pain. I don’t think that there is any need to apologize for calling a spade a spade. There is no fix for “stupid” and too often diplomacy is overrated. Laughing, and humor is a much better solution to what ails the world. I think every profession could produce a spread like this one-Kudos to them. Thank you!

    1. B says:

      Agreed! I was just about to say the same thing, about there being no reason to feel a need to apologize. Stupidity runs rampant in this world, and we’re supposed to always just sit and take it? Nope, not me.
      It’s not “petty”, and you shouldn’t have to treat people’s stupidity with kid gloves just because you’re working for them. Good god, my boss is the biggest moron on the face of the planet – I only survive working for her because I can come home and mock the sh*t out of her to my husband, family, and friends. Humor is a necessary coping mechanism in life.

    2. Daniel says:

      I’ve had a client specifically ask to use combine Chiller and Comic Sans into on piece. I laughed. He then assured me he was actually being serious. I cried.

  4. MsM says:

    In college i was working on a poster for a play, and drew some characters like Hank Hill and family, Not looking like them, but looking like an animation. The teacher said, “Can you make it more “cartooney”? Exactly what does that mean? Maybe I should have aimed for Snoopy…

  5. Braden Keith says:

    I was told last week regarding a website I’ve been working on for a client
    “You got it finished pretty quick. We feel like what we paid you should have taken longer. Can you just make the fonts change depending on what computer they’re using?”

    Thankfully this is not my main source of income and I get to choose my clients. So I responded

    “The question is not could, it’s why. How about I just send you your money back and we stop wasting everyone’s time”

  6. MsD says:

    Hilarious! And so true! My husband is a graphic designer and front-end developer, and some of these are so similar to what he’s had to deal with.

  7. Paul says:

    “As a non-designer, I think the popularity of mocking the people that keep designers employed is kind of petty and patronizing…”

    As a non-designer, your opinion of these pieces is kind of irrelevant. Whatever you think of their existence, the reality is designers are bombarded with these types of comments constantly. In your non-designer job, you never go home and discuss the dumb non-designer comments you hear on the job? Ever?

    The difference between you discussing the dumb non-designer job comments you get and the dumb comments designers have to deal with is that we have the skills to elevate those dumb comments to works of art.

      1. some kind of designer says:

        As a designer, I find some of these quite relevant to be honest. As a person not knowing the background of these issues I cannot judge all of them. Sometimes customer actually is correct. Not saying that all of these are proper demands, some really represents the dark side of being a designer…

  8. Soho says:

    OMG – I’m right in the middle of a client from hell project and this really lightened my mood. I’ve heard at least a half dozen of these verbatim in the past week! Now I can laugh at the comments instead of fume in frustration! thank you!

  9. Jeremy Taylor says:

    I suspect I often send our designers similar requests, sorry. I don’t think it’s ever been as bad as “I’ve printed off the GIF and it isn’t moving” or “can you turn it around in photoshop so we can see more of the front”, but sometimes it can be hard to explain why when you know something isn’t quite right.

    Some of the comments I do understand. Asking for a logo rather than a font for example! When we ask our designers for a new logo, I don’t want something I could have done myself in 30 seconds using Word (which we have been sent before).

    Also, “can you make the snow look a bit warmer” might not have been phrased particularly well, but if it’s supposed to show global warming then you need to make it clear the snow is melting.

    1. rachel says:

      then say that! say, “can you make it look as if the snow is melting, as it is a poster about global warming and we need to convey the reality of it” Clients won’t let designers into their heads sometimes. if you don’t do that, we can’t design what you need. vague comments and directions will return designs you did not want or ones that do not get the message across. the problem is definitely a lack of communication. i don’t expect clients to speak my lingo, but i do ask that they be clear about their intentions, wants and needs.

      1. Chris says:

        As designers we experience client feedback like this every day. But in the interest of creating a good relationship with our clients, our job is to GET into our clients head. All we have to do is continue the conversation with simple questions or explanations. “Photoshop can’t turn the elephant around but I can find a new elephant” or “What do you mean by warmer?” would make these non-issues. It’s fun to bash clients because it can be frustrating dealing with them, but the better you get at guiding them to the best solution, the more they’ll want to work with you. It’s your job to get the clear explanation of their wants and needs.

        1. Jane says:

          Thank you, Chris. Best, most professional response here. I could think of a few other reasons a client would have for asking that the snow be “warmer,” besides a portrayal of global warming. It’s nice to know there are some designers who would take the time to inquire further about exactly what a client is looking for.

  10. Cru says:

    “As a non-designer, I think the popularity of mocking the people that keep designers employed is kind of petty and patronizing”

    You should give it a try sometime, you will instantly understand and identify with the practice of mocking clients. There are too few decent ones and way too many bad apples. Essentially, these posters aren’t making fun of anyone that MEANINGFULLY employs the designers.

    1. The Citizen says:

      Designers can get confused sometimes and think they are “artists”. I would never use any of the firms that allowed themselves to be associated with this.

      Anyone than MEANINGFULLY (sic) employs the designers will have to communicate what they want the design to convey. The designer’s job is to interpret that. The language between industries and professions is obviously going to be different. A good contractor will work to understand this and try to best interpret what the CLIENT wants. An “artist”, (whom I’ve had the pain of having to deal with in the past) will insist on using their language and will put their efforts into posters like the above.

      Try doing your job without clients. You’ll find yourself reading websites like this even more than you already do. Designers are in the service industry like barbers and barmen – suck it up and stop being such whiney prima-donnas.

      1. rachel says:

        I have had clients that aren’t meaningful. as in one particular who would tell you that the current packaging they had was not right. when asked on a scale of one to ten how completely different do you think it needs to look (just to gauge how much design work might be needed and how different their vision was from the current piece) they ignored the question and talked about something else. then they gave a long list of changes. the piece ended up being 75% different from what they had originally with new illustration work. however they only wanted to pay for the item like they were making minor corrections to type or placement. this kind of client is not meaningful in the sense that they take up a lot of the designers time but then don’t think they should and sometimes refuse to pay for the work done. The client then says something like, “I can get a college student to do this much cheaper”. They could – it’s true. But would they get the quality we can give?

      2. Tink says:

        Perhaps that’s not fair, though. Even ‘artists’ working to a commission follow a client’s specification as well as they can, though it’s equally important in art that clients have really thought about what they want, are good at expressing what they want, are realistic and trust the person they’ve commissioned to carry out that idea.

        This isn’t about design, specifically, it’s about people. Some people are articulate or decisive, or relaxed and trusting of someone to carry out a service, and value the work this person does enough to pay them what they ask for for this service. Others are on the other end of those personality trait scales – inarticulate, indecisive, micro-managing or controlling, and don’t inherently respect or value quality, or haggle where they shouldn’t.

        Assuming all people, even those in a position of power or responsibility are automatically going to be good clients just because they’re vaguely competent at their jobs is misunderstanding human personality. There are plenty of competent generally OK people out there who for some reason or another can be a nightmare in certain instances.

        I agree people should always respect who puts the food on their table (and without whom they’d be out of a job), but you can have nightmare kids if you’re a teacher, nightmare patients if you’re a doctor, nightmare everyone if you’re in retail or service… and, nightmare clients if you’re in art or design.

        I would have no problem hiring an artist or designer who made light fun of some particularly awful situations, so long as they didn’t go in for humiliating those people or bullying them. I’m not into mean, bullying humour at all, either.

        And also, I would argue against designers not being artists. You’re paying them to come up with a professional-looking, functional product in the spirit of the idea you had, with the intention of a particular desired effect. If your ideas are very…unorthodox to the point of being ridiculous, they’re within their rights to try to gently steer you to something they know works in reality. If you had the knowledge and expertise to know exactly how to execute award winning design, you’d do it yourself.

      3. R says:

        You just made a RIDICULOUS assumption about an entire range of people. I, as an ARTIST, do not insist on anyone using my “language” (what the hell does that even mean?). I mostly do work for myself and to display in art shows, but I do do the occasional commission. I have also done some graphic and design work commissioned before, too. I can completely relate to these for the sole reason that anyone could relate to these- human idiocy. Regardless, my point was that you, as a CLIENT, should obviously be intelligent enough to not make sweeping generalizations about an ENTIRE SUBSET of people.

        Maybe, though, it was you who printed out the .gif. If so, I can understand why you’re a little pissy.

        I’ll continue to do my job WITHOUT clients like you, thankyouverymuch.


  11. Kirsty says:

    As a designer, I also think the popularity of mocking the people that keep designers employed is kind of petty and patronizing – at least when it’s a general supercilious attitude of ‘all clients are so stupid, we hate them all’.

    However, most of the examples in these posters are not that kind of thing at all. Every profession will have the same problem; clients/customers who think they know what the job entails but don’t really, who ask for things that are against common sense… Teachers, plumbers, car mechanics, typists… I’m sure they all have a good laugh at the daft things that are said to them!

  12. Will says:

    There’s silly clients who make you shake your head (“this Apple product is supposed to Just Work, are you stupid or are you going to have it fixed today?”)

    But then there are clients who think they know how to do your job better than you: this isn’t limited to design, but it is common among industries where people feel they have a layman’s understanding.

    The term here is “bike shedding.” Go into a board meeting, ask for a million dollars to add a new compression manifold to a nuclear plant. It gets approved in ten minutes because the nuclear expert says “yep it’s mandatory” and the accountant says “it’s in line with our budget.” Then go and ask for a thousand dollars to repair and repaint the bike shed out back. Suddenly everybody’s the expert, an hour later they’re still arguing and it gets tabled until spouses and uncles can be consulted.

    Same thing with websites and other user-facing parts of a computer. You can repair a devastating virus, but they’ll whine about their desktop icons changing places.

  13. kim says:

    omg, these SO hit home. painfully. besides the ubiquitous “can you make the logo bigger?” my three favorite un-favorite client requests/comments, so far, are:

    1. my nephew’s taking graphic design at (whatever school), and he says this is all wrong.

    2. love the copy for the whole, 43-page brochure. just love it. but i hate that word, “it.” can you rewrite the brochure before our presentation at 3 o’clock, and take “it” out? just wherever you see “it.” change “it” to something else.

    3. i don’t like the way you’ve spelled this word, “constellations.” can you respell it, but use fewer Ls?

  14. Andrew says:

    It’s funny – I saw Louise Fili speak at an AIGA event and she said a logo should never be a font, so maybe the person who dropped that line wasn’t so inane.

    Also, I’ve said the “I like the colors, now change them” line more than a few times. That’s part of maintaining a brand. Everything you like doesn’t necessarily serve the brand.

    The Target Audience and Animated GIF quotes? No excuse for those!

  15. Elizardbeth says:

    Oh – I LOVE these. I once had a board member tell me that I needed to make the educational workshop I was writing about eating disorders “more fun”. I was speechless, but not for long.

  16. tink says:

    I can see where you’re coming from about the biting-the-hand-that-feeds you side of things. I can imagine it’s difficult to get a balance. After all, clients can have a distinct idea that they want *something*, and what that might mean, but not be as skilled in knowing the ins and outs of *how* designing actually works (a lot of the above involve a lack of technical understanding or where come more common sense would be useful), and not yet having learned to really trust that someone who has trained to put messages across and been paid to do so for years might have a more successful way of doing so than yourself. Each person has their way they would get creative about a task so I can see that some clients might be tempted to get a little too involved in the design part without having learned all the practical reasons why their ideas aren’t practical (or are too particular to them). Some of them though are just the client asking for too much.

    I guess it’s a reminder to us non-designers. Remember not to ask for too much, or to get too hands-on. If we could do it ourselves, we wouldn’t be paying a designer to do it ;)

    1. PixelPusher says:

      I think there is a balance, listening to what the client wants, how he wants to convey whatever message he has in mind, then advising along the way to make it work

  17. K says:

    I had a customer ask me “I plugged in the programming cable, does the ‘widget’ have to be powered up to get programmed”……. you just cant fix stupid no matter how hard you try.

  18. Celia says:

    I wonder, does this stem from the fact most people know when something doesn’t look right, or isn’t working… but few know how to fix it. There lies the expertise of a designer – knowing how to fix it. I loved these – thank you.

  19. rachel says:

    I work in design. I hear these all the time. Most comments like, “can you change the color?” or “can you make the logo bigger” are no big deal. They are easy ways to please a customer. But I have worked for some very difficult people. One told me she wanted to add to look very Martha Stewarty. So after getting on Martha’s website the team put together several ideas that were Martha Stewarty. However she hated them all. We tried again. Again she hated them. Finally, I had a conference with her as my boss was out and all information comes through my boss as to what the clients want and since she was out it was now my job to field her calls anyway. So I jogged her brain. I learned that what she wanted wasn’t really Martha Stewart like but was more VW ad or Apple ad like. The only Martha like element that she wanted was to have the advertised item tied with a bow in a way that Martha would wrap a Christmas present. It was a holiday ad after all. Sometimes it can really take some coaxing to get into the clients head. And sometimes – had this happen too – the client out right refuses to tell you what she doesn’t like about the piece you did. I’ve dealt with one marketing lead who would say, “None of these work, I don’t like any of them. I can’t find any good designers.” She was working with 3 different agencies trying to find the “it” design. But when you asked her questions to draw her out, was it the font, the color, the sizing. . .she couldn’t tell you and would just say she needed you to do it over. It’s her money – but if you could pinpoint SOMETHING I could help you reach your goal of the “it” design much better.

  20. radable says:

    each client is different, and it’s part of the job to find (out) what that need. and often it’s the hardest part, I’m afraid.

    if you really want to be 21cent, involve the client in the messy design process.

    most of the posters are inspired :-)

  21. John says:

    I worked mostly with art directors, directors and producers, who ought to have known better. The hardest part was swallowing my smile (or horror), and attempting to ask what they meant in the most tactful way possible. I came to the conclusion that it’s possible for non-visual people to imagine an image that does not, and cannot, exist.

  22. Allison says:

    Ah hell, I can’t believe how universal these things are! I’ve been asked to redraw fonts (and when I refused had a boss send the font to a 15 year old in another country and paid him $50 to redraw the font in question), I’ve heard the “but I want a logo, not a font” a million times….

    My favorite of the week: “I have no color preference”

    5 hours of work later….

    “I love it. But can you make it neon?”

    “Neon what?”

    “I don’t know…. neon.”

  23. Jon Roth says:

    These are “exhaustively” funny. Pun intended. And, so true in terms of how many of them have actually crossed my design plate over time. Back in the day, before computers, I had a lady (of some advanced years) in our office I helped do keylines (paste-up boards). She didn’t quite have the lingo down when asking me to make a reduction of a photograph or logo with a stat camera. “Blow down on this for me, will ya?” Thanks for making me laugh.

  24. Rick Sander says:

    This ain’t NOTHING. Ive worked in design and vfx for 20 years and while kinda fun, I can understand the client side on almost every one of them. Almost all of them are directions or requests that can be acted on, rather than the dread “Why did you make it so blue.” Can the snow look warmer? Yes, change the color temp to look more yellow/orange.

    I think every designer has to look at things from the CLIENT’s point of view. They aren’t idiots, they are paying you to do what you love. If you don’t want comments and notes, go be a starving artist.

    1. PixelPusher says:

      Oh please, there is a HUGE difference between changing a color to removing an ear from a baby. If you don’t see the hilarity in that, you need to get out more. I’ve been designing for 18yrs and let me tell you there are some crazy things clients have requested and they are hysterical. Every single profession has the same issues.
      Relax, go do some more work on fiverr.

  25. PixelPusher says:

    “As a non-designer, I think the popularity of mocking the people that keep designers employed is kind of petty and patronizing…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t funny.”
    As a designer I think you are patronizing, and by the way I don’t like that you use “…….” so much and could you rewrite this article in Greek, Hebrew, Farsi, Russian, mandarin Chinese and German, I don’t like it in English and by the way, you won’t get any additional monies for it.
    If you are saying you never ever complain about a client or sometimes have just had enough, then you are a liar and most likely drawing caricatures out of a cardboard box on the street and never deal with any real clients.As a profession, designing someone’s vision isn’t always easy, I LIKE to laugh about it and I need to vent once in a while, anyone who says they never roll their eyes at a request is either heavily medicated or uses Microsoft paint for logo design.
    Every single profession whines and complains and laughs about ridiculous things clients or customers request. I’m sure many have laughed at me, it doesn’t make them any less professional or proficient.
    So high and mighty, get off your self-righteous snooty high horse and laugh.

  26. PixelPusher says:

    ” I love the concept for the Ford Mustang wrap, but can you click a few buttons and turn it into an Aston Martin”

  27. Oskmey says:

    Everyone can sound like an idiot.

    At least once a day, I ring up IT and ask them to fix something with my computer and cringe at how much of an idiot I sound. I consider myself a relatively tech-savvy person on my Mac at home, but I’m helpless on Windows at work.

    The thing that really opened my eyes up was when I was moved from the service department to stock co-ordination, where I am now.
    How many times when I was in service did I roll my eyes and whinge about the stock co-ordinators being stupid, blind, etc.?
    And yet now being in stock co-ordination, I can see exactly why they couldn’t do the things I wanted.

    Every job has its demands, restrictions and requirements. It’s difficult to appreciate those pressures and restrictions unless you’re living them. Everyone deserves the right to whinge every now and then. Especially my IT department.

  28. Nanno says:

    Haha, well done. Remembers me of a client who asked me to open the jacket of the guy who we filmed on green screen. Sure madam, I will ask him straight away!

  29. Julie says:

    I know I’m late in the post, but just stumbled onto these while looking for an interesting way to list things … because I’m sending my ideas to a t-shirt designer! These are hysterical!! … and I’m the customer! Oh my … and I’ve said many of those things!! For those that took this too seriously … get over it. This is funny!

  30. Frank says:

    As a non-designer i feel these images should be universally know, just to “raise awareness”. I saw a lot of images and blog posts like this, and whenever i ahev to deal with a designer i try to be more careful in my requests, and trust more his/her knowledge of the job instead of my ignorance.

  31. Steve D says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has trouble viewing animated gif’s when I print documents.

  32. LindaB says:

    As a designer, it isn’t patronizing, anymore than any other professional mocking clients/customers when they do or ask really off the wall things. I worked in medicine and did it there, I worked in IT, we did it there. It is human nature and frankly a lot of it is insanely funny or stupid. Someone immersing a plaster cast in hot water because they itch. Someone trying to use their computer mouse by rubbing it on the computer monitor. Someone complaining because they can ‘sense’ the smell of a pizza illustration. Why is it patronizing when a designer does it.

    1. eric says:

      The problem is that only about half of these requests are really “off the wall” — and for at least one (the request for an actual logo instead of just a “font”), I have no clue why a designer would think it’s funny. (Logos are not logotypes. Designers learn that in school. So it’s actually a very reasonable request, couched in a way that ought to make sense to a designer. Though one never knows about AEs….)

      I’ve worked with designers a lot, and so I’ve seen a lot of this kind of criticism. Occasionally it does represent genuine cluelessness, or an attempt to seem hipper than they really are, on the part of the client. But even in that case, it’s rarely helpful to mock your customers.

      BTW, that’s also true in medicine and IT. I’ve spent a lot of time in IT or software development and so I know what you’re talking about. And it’s as wrong and unhelpful in that context as it is here.

      So, yes, it’s mostly pretty patronizing.

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