Clients from Hell
"Looks great, but only received one copy of the flyer! I had said that I’d like to print 250 of them"
- Client who thinks you EMAIL all 250 printed copies.
A client called asking me to remove the “PROOF” watermark from my proof so she could print it. After...
A client called asking me to remove the “PROOF” watermark from my proof so she could print it. After I spent 10 minutes explaining to please not print a low-res, unfinished, watermarked draft, but instead to use the clearly labelled hi-res final version which reflected several rounds of edits, she finally seemed to get it.
This is the text I received at 11:52 PM that night:
Client: Bad news, those letters didn’t come off when I printed it. Don’t bother fixing it now as that was my whole printing budget… not happy…
I shot a “tour” video of a hotel designed to show potential guests the facilities, accommodation etc. The star of the video was the CEO.
Once the filming and editing where complete, she asked me to do a few things in “post”:
Client: Could you make the bed in the background? It looks messy. Also, I really wish I hadn’t worn that cardigan. Can you take it off and just have my dress?
Client: I thought I asked for the page to be able to show TIFF
Me: I told you, most mainstream browsers do not support TIFF. We recommended JPG and PNG from the start.
Client: But the functional spec has it saying that TIFF is required.
Me: You mean the functional spec that you edited after it was signed off?
Client: I don’t care, just speak to the Chrome and Firewolf guys to make it work!
A former friend of mine had his arrogant father hire me as a web designer. He scheduled a meeting...
A former friend of mine had his arrogant father hire me as a web designer. He scheduled a meeting between me and his extremely erratic business partner.
His partner was over 20 minutes late, was all over the place, didn’t really understand anything about web design but threw all his random ideas at me without waiting for feedback. I waited patiently for him to finish speaking and gave him a quote – a quote that got higher the longer he spoke because this was a corporate site for a local bigwig and they were annoying the heck out of me, signalling what a tough job this was going to be.
I get a phone call later after our meeting from my friend’s dad.
Client: My partner said you were really unprofessional, you didn’t bring a pen and paper, you weren’t paying attention.
Me: I don’t need a pen and paper, I work from memory. I’m artsy.
Then, to prove it, I told him everything his partner requested verbatim.
He wasn’t impressed.
Client: I’m trying to offer you a job, but if this is how you do business…
Me: Your partner was 20 minutes late. He spoke at me for over twenty minutes without asking for input and then complained that I was being unprofessional.
Client: I’m trying to help you!
Me: Well I appreciate the thought but if that’s how you run your business, I’m afraid I’m going to have to politely decline.
I just got my first ever client as a freelance web/graphic designer. My client sent me a page and a...
I just got my first ever client as a freelance web/graphic designer. My client sent me a page and a half of content to fit on a single page and a photo of his logo taken with a digital camera.
I’m just realizing I picked a great career.
I was retained to design a logo for an engineering firm. I gave them three options that truly reflected their brand and culture.
Client: Thanks for getting us these designs. But we were hoping for something a little crazier. Really outside the box. You know what? Get drunk and then design us something. I’m serious, you can expense the booze. We are literally paying you to give us something you designed when you were drunk.
Well OK, I thought, I can do that. I sent drunky new logos.
Client: What is this? We were hoping for something more streamlined and professional.
Now I’m hungover AND mad.
I had an appointment today with a customer who lives in a mobile home park (a really nice one!). She...
I had an appointment today with a customer who lives in a mobile home park (a really nice one!).
She did not provide a unit number, only the main address for the park. When I called to ask for the unit number she got really mad:
Client: Why’d you even come if you can’t read the signs!
Then she cancelled the appointment
Client: So I want to have this character come up with an idea, and then DRAW that idea – but it’s...
Client: So I want to have this character come up with an idea, and then DRAW that idea – but it’s our logo. And then the logo would open up to show exactly what our company does. I want this to be a gif that we can put on our website.
Me: That sounds like an interesting project! What’s your budget?
Me: Uh… I’m sorry, but that’s not enough for me to even design the character.
Client: I think you don’t understand the type of animation I meant. I mean a GIF style, nothing more.
I don’t think they understood that to make it a GIF you would still need the animation.
They then decided to only have me do the reference sheet, saying that they would ask somebody else to animate it for them.
I can’t talk for every animator out there but I don’t think anybody would charge $15 for what they wanted
I run the creative for a national non-profit. We have resources available for our staff, extensive...
I run the creative for a national non-profit. We have resources available for our staff, extensive brand guidelines, and clear-cut channels for ordering supplies. We got this request today:
Client: I was wondering if I was confined to the 4 types of business card designs. Or if I was able to create my own? Thank you in advance.
Me: Yeah, we prefer to stick to company templates.
Client: Does that mean? I can’t make a custom card?
Me: What are you looking to customize?
Client: I want a vertical card, and I created my own logo.
When I went to talk to him face-to-face he told me his logo was “better” (it isn’t) and got a lesson on how printing works.
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Client: I need to do a recruitment ad to fit 180mm x 63mm, can you design one?
Me: Sure, can you provide the text.
They send me a 3-page word doc.
Me: I don’t think a 3-page word doc position description will fit in the ad size you provided. Can you reduce the message to 100 words?
Client: Wow, 100 words? That’s challenging. I can do my best to cut it to 290 words, will that work?
Me: No, 100 words maximum, and this is on 9 point size text which is already quite small.
Client: Hmm maybe you can reduce the font size to fit 290 words?
Me: I’d recommend you don’t do that, no one will be able to read the job advert.
Client: This is too hard, we need a comms person! I really don’t know how else I can reduce the text!
Me: Well, I’m a designer, not a writer. I’m just telling you what I need.
One day later, the client emailed a 150 words advert with the ‘do what you can’ attitude, implying I should solve their problem.
Client: I have a project for a kid’s book. It contains probably 500 simple pictures of objects like...
Client: I have a project for a kid’s book. It contains probably 500 simple pictures of objects like pencil, bus, eye… etc! Let me know if you’re interest.
Me: Thank you for reaching out to me. Can you please go into more detail about your project?
Client: The timeline is 1 to 2 months, and I would pay you lump sum instead of doing royalties.
I do the math. 500 drawings in 1-2 months. That’s about eight per day.
Me: With that extremely short timeline to make quite a lot of illustrations, I will at least need to be paid $25000 for the 500 illustrations alone.
Client: Is there an extra zero or you asked for twenty-five thousands?!
Me: No, I asked for $25,000. That equals out to $50 per illustration. If you want me to draw 500 illustrations in only a month or two that is my price.
I have yet to get a reply back from them. And here I was really looking forward to that paycheck… </sarcasm>
Client: I saw a painting I wanted but the price was $300. I’d never pay that much for a piece of art. That’s outrageous. I took a picture of it and want you to paint it for me.
Me: That’s not a bad price for an original painting. My price would be much higher.
Client: Then just do it digitally so it won’t cost you anything.
I do a lot of work for local bands.Client: DUDE! We need to send off the album tonight otherwise we...
I do a lot of work for local bands.
Client: DUDE! We need to send off the album tonight otherwise we won’t have it in time for the release show!
Me: Okay, I’m actually free tonight so I can work on it.
Client: Can you put the tracklist on the back like we talked about?
Me: Yeah, I just need the names of the songs and credits to fill in at the bottom if you could send that over.
Client: *Seen at 6:53pm*
I’m still waiting. He originally said the CD company takes 4-6 weeks for turnaround. The album release is in about 2 weeks, and I still haven’t heard back.
One of my first creative direction jobs was with a medium-sized agency. The client was a construction firm, and the agency owner offered to do a logo for them pro bono. First red flag.
Things were slow in the shop, so the owner threw a lot of resources at the project. She gave me three designers to work with and, as this was their only project, they really went at it.
For internal review, we went through an amazing number of sketches and from these showed the agency owner probably twenty different directions. She was delighted with the work and picked a dozen for presentation. I argued for less, but she insisted on showing the client “how hard we are working for him” (by confusing him, apparently). Second red flag.
So we tightened up the concepts and I went to the client meeting with the senior designer. When we got there, in addition to the client, he had surprised us by inviting his five (!) vice presidents too, “just to get their feedback.” Third red flag.
Most of the group were pretty easy. They made normal, reasonable client comments, we took a lot of notes and asked clarifying questions. But consistently, there was one guy at the end of the table who hated all 12 directions
“That just sucks,” he would say. Or “I can’t believe you’d be willing to show something this horrible.” But best of all was “That looks like a dog pissing on a flat rock.”
Punchline: Turns out the flat rock guy had a wife who almost went to art school, and he was trying to get the project for her.
We never did finish the logo, but at least the dog-pissing-on-a-flat-rock comment became a staple of internal review meetings for years afterwards.
When I was starting off as a freelance copywriter, one of my first clients wanted a one-page ad written. They wanted to do design and production in-house, which should have been a red flag right there.
So, typical ad– concept, headlines, a couple drafts, and minor corrections. I quote the job based on my hourly rate.
Client: This seems like an awful lot of hours. Do you really type that slow?
Client: Needs less white space.
The Freelancer’s Union is a non-profit that is dedicated to advocating for freelancers and solopreneurs everywhere, and Caitlin Pearce is its new executive director. She joins Kyle on todays episode to talk about the issues facing freelancers today, why so many people love to be their own bosses, and what we can do to make sure that the industry remains viable well into the future.
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