I was wondering the other day what would be my¬†perfect graphic design¬†project. I guess from a client’s point of view it’s one that’s going to be fulfilled with the minimum of fuss and exceeds expectations in terms of costing the amount that was quoted and giving more than was briefed. These are all shared by the graphic designer, but I – along with many other designers – want a bit more from a project.


Much of what attracts people to a graphic design career is the opportunity to be creative. In many ways the perfect graphic design project would be one that involves tons of highly detailed research, which then requires a highly intelligent, yet beautifully simple solution.

The opportunity to lose oneself in a project is one many graphic designers crave.

Conflict or Compromise

Those idealised projects are fantastic, but for most of us come along only very occasionally. Whilst there is not one piece of work on this site that I am not proud and pleased with the final product, there are very few in which I became fully absorbed in, until the final presentation where I emerged from a blissful state of creativity to receive nothing but praise from the client. This desire on the part of the designer to live and breathe a project that almost becomes a part of themselves, is rarely shared with the client. Nor should it be, to be honest; designers really only have to fulfil the desires of the client who is paying them. Design is not art (okay, not normally, there are instances where the two disciplines meet, but they are rare).

Stefan Sagmeister book cover
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Stefan Sagmeister is one of the few graphic designers who really lives his work as an artist, photo by Criterion

Graphic design is a compromise between the artistic ambitions of the designer and the commercial requirements of the client. Most of the time, designers have to accept that the client knows their audience well enough to understand what’s required from the design. The time for the designer to research the audience does not always exist. This compromise is where conflict sometimes arises

Many designers will have experienced the client who does not allow their understanding of the audience to whom they sell to lead their design choices, but relies on personal preferences to influence their decisions. The website Clients From Hell contains countless stories from designers who have experienced instances like: “I think the logo should be lime green, because that’s the colour my wife’s just painted the bathroom that colour.” The greatest frustration with this is not that fact that it’s patronising and demeans the graphic designer’s understanding of their craft, it’s that it’s poor business sense.

Maybe the opportunity to lose oneself in a haze of creative freedom is rather a wishful one, but I think many of us would be satisfied with having our knowledge respected. A designer will see things about your business that you may not. We look at things differently, we ask does that work, firstly; if not, could it be better for the user?


Spend money wisely

Maybe designers won’t have many perfect projects to work on, but that doesn’t stop there from being perfect clients. Ones who respect our unique skills and allow us to suggest ways to improve their business. Your spending your money on us anyway, why not spend it wisely?

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