Valuable lesson no. 1: the client who knows it all

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

It’s my day off today but I had to go in to work to pick up tickets for the private view this week.
While I was there I got talking to second years about their research project proposals for next year – they’re worth 15% of their final mark (or 30% if they so choose, which a lot of them want to). One student is choosing to investigate whether graphic design is ‘worth it’ – I think she’s becoming a bit disillusioned with it all. In particular she wants to look at the ‘we’re all designers’ mentality that is so common these days and seems to devalue the status of the designer. (I think we as designers, and design education, have a lot to do with that as we attempt to depict ourselves as magicians and prostitute ourselves in art galleries rather than the real world – it’s no wonder ordinary people (if you excuse the term) would prefer not to do business with us).

This is, as any regular reader of this blog will know, a cause dear to my heart and so we chatted for a bit. Turned out she was having problems with the editors of a magazine she works on who want to be ‘hands on’ when it comes to the design. Not even graduated and she’s getting the best lesson you could have: dealing with clients who think they know better than you! (I should be careful here – I’m not suggesting that clients shouldn’t be respected; of course they should. But I think you know the sort of situation I mean.)
I got back home to find that Joel Wheat, a student at Portfolio Centre has written a great piece on precisely this issue. (I’d put a link to PC’s web site here but as they’ve chosen not to let it work in Safari I won’t bother – I hate it when people do that – bad, bad design choice).
I think it’s an area that deserves to be looked at more – indeed I submitted a paper to an AIGA conference on it but it never got chosen 😦
Anyway, read Joel’s article. I’d be mightily surprised if it didn’t strike a chord with any designer who sees it.

Met a lady the other day that told me that her grandson was also a designer. “He can draw really well and is good at the computer too”. Turns out the kid is 17 and, from her description a veritable virtuoso in the realm of Microsoft Word. I have run into to this time and again. Read the full article


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