Letters from creatives
Creatives share it all: The good, the bad, and the ugly. You too can share what’s on your mind and heart by writing your own letter. We’re here to support each other.Write a letter
When you think of the phrase "The customer is always right", your mind may immediately go to an unsatisfied "Karen" screaming demands at an overworked cashier or customer service manager. However, this phrase extends beyond the service industry into other fields. As graphic designers, we often feel the pressure of know-it-all clients, with visions well outside the scope of reality. Don't get this wrong, client feedback is amazing and necessary. However, when push comes to shove, sometimes the client is just flat wrong. What one may call "creative differences" another may see as "I want it my way". It's always a tough balancing act to merge what the client wants and what lives up to design standards. It's not just the service industry, even professions like Graphic Design fall into the mindset of "The client is always right". We all want happy clients (and being paid is a nice bonus too), but getting there can often mean sacrificing good design for a client's demands. Plus, caving to every single client request can sabotage the entire design. We are all capable of playing Simon Says with our clients, but we need to learn when to say no. The client is not always right and that's ok!
I love creating all kinds of things: logos, posters, websites, presentations, and the list goes on. I also love drawing on my own time.
What I especially like is the diversity of projects that I get to work on. There is always a new challenge or new thing to learn—which keeps my job exciting. In my field, there is a constant evolution, new processes, new tools to learn. I don’t have time to get bored. It can be overwhelming at times, but I actually strive in that kind of environment.
When I was in school, I used to dread not knowing exactly what I would be doing. I feel so lucky to have found a career in which I get to be creative every day. Ever since I was a kid, I always loved drawing and art in general. Being able to make a living out of that genuine interest of mine is so awesome.
Also, I’m super lucky to work with great people. Not to say that everything is great, but overall it’s a great experience. I learn a ton from them.
Being creative makes me so happy! I know that using my creativity is essential to my general level of happiness. I had a few jobs before getting into a creative career, and I was absolutely miserable.
I worked in the retail industry for several years. I also bounced between a few administrative roles in all kinds of industries. But it was slowly killing me inside. I couldn’t imagine doing this for another 30 years and waiting for retirement.
Being in a creative career is such a breath of fresh air. I couldn’t imagine it otherwise. Love it, love it!
I’ve worked for the last 4 years as an architectural designer, and I came to the conclusion that the industry is ridiculous.
Most companies expect me to work at least 50 hours a week for a low wage without health insurance. I love architecture, but I have bills to pay, and I need to take some free time with my family.
When talking with other colleagues, we agree that management’s tactic is to tell us that we have to work harder because we’re still “green.” Does that mean that you work less the more seniority you gain? I don’t think so!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine putting in extra hours here and there, but there has to be fair compensation for my hard work. Because, in reality, I do a ton of work for free. I reached out to friends who work in other architecture firms. They are going through the same crap. I think it won’t be long until I start looking at other career options.
I love design, but I’m so tired of everything required to have a stable freelance career. Like, you never know what kind of client you’re going to get. Are they going to pay you in full? Are they going to ask for a billion iterations?
Once, I was working for a repeat client who already had a fair amount of trust built up from previous work, yet all of a sudden “realized” my work was much worse, even though it was exactly the same.
I was like, this is the same thing we’ve been doing, what are you talking about?
In the end, the amount of fixes and workload was too much for their budget and had to fire them. I wasted at least a dozen hours for which I didn’t get paid...
Based on my experience, Graphic Design is like a form of problem-solving. It’s really rewarding to dive into a problem and solve it in a creative way. It gives me the opportunity to turn someone’s problems into something both beautiful and useful.
I often solve problems for clients who don’t know how to make their business look sharp and professional. So I solve business problems by creating a brand identity, business cards, or other assets. But at first, I have no clue what direction to take! I may not even know how to get started to create the logo, colors, styles, etc. That’s where as a Graphic Designer, I come in! And for me, there’s really nothing else like it!
I’m feeling overwhelmed with all of the projects on my plate, and it seems like no matter how hard I work, there is still more to do! No time to go through the process.
The other month, my manager didn’t like the work that I produced (even though we agreed on the direction multiple times). The thing is that it’s a big project, and he wanted me to start from scratch even though it was due at the end of the day. No kidding, he told me this at 11AM, and it was due EOD...
I asked for feedback on which parts were not satisfactory, and his answers were so elusive. I spent 7 hours redoing everything (no time for lunch). I was so pissed, and I still am. Words can’t describe it. This happens too often, just because my manager “doesn’t like” something.
I’ve been in branding and graphic design for the past 14 years and absolutely love it.
Ultimately, it’s healthy to recognize that every job has pros and cons. And over the years, I’ve learned how to make the best of any situation.
I would say that not being too attached to my designs has, over the years, become one of the best and most helpful skills I’ve acquired. By not being too attached, you can often put aside your subconscious biases and work towards finding the best solution for the user. I try my hardest when presenting a suite of draft options for any given project to make it so that I would be truly happy with whatever option the client decides to proceed with.
I would say that’s my trick is going into the situation happy with all iterations. That way, I’m not married to one and disappointed if it isn’t chosen. Especially if your personal favorite isn’t the best fit for the target audience, project goals, etc.
I’m a Graphic Designer, and I usually get remarks about the color adjustments or gradients I chose. Especially when I have to do branding.
It’s not an actionable comment, just a remark. Things like that always make me question what my stakeholders want... or do they think they want? I just know it’s going to be a long week.
At this point, I tried so many things to mitigate this problem, but it’s been a mixed bag. I’m not sure what to do or if I care that much anymore. I’m starting to explore other career options because I know I won’t be able to keep going like this for another 10 years.
A client of mine needed an updated logo, so I went through my typical discovery process of market research, gathering client business goals, etc. - and yes, even subjective preferences.
I created a design brief from this information and advised the client on the design direction we would be taking. They agreed, and I set off on course.
The client really liked the logo... but a week later, I got a call... They made the fatal flaw of shopping it around to other people’s subjective opinions!
Some liked a certain feature of the old logo that my client and I had explicitly agreed needed to go.
I felt frustrated, but it’s almost a rule that someone won’t like a change. Needless to say, my client caved to certain voices and had me integrate the old element back into the design!
I love being a designer! I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
Solving people’s problems is incredibly rewarding. When I design brand assets, my focus is on trying to solve a problem for a specific audience. I like the early phases of design, where I do research to make sure that I understand all the necessary context.
I think it’s fun, I really like when everything clicks, and I understand how to best proceed.
Also, I love how designers understand each other It’s such a tight-knit community that celebrates thinking outside the box. Anything is possible for us designers. I think it’s crucial not to be constrained by limiting beliefs or boundaries nowadays. All this makes a career in design such a pleasure.
As a design strategist within a professional services firm, this is a very common situation I am faced with somewhat regularly.
Our leadership sometimes regards stakeholder approval so strongly/weighs it so heavily that their personal biases and opinions can win out over what is best for the user or what the data says we should do.
In times like these, I try my hardest to hold my ground and give a clear and concise explanation around why I feel we should proceed in a certain direction. I would say most of the time it works, but the times when it doesn’t can be extremely frustrating. In those times I feel that I am not able to do my job to the best of my ability because, first and foremost, I see myself as the defender of the client/user, and in that moment they are being forgotten or at the least not brought to the forefront.
In my design career, when it comes to opinions, I have learned that they should be taken with a grain of salt. I usually work with at least 5-10 different stakeholders on a single design which is super hard.
Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone's opinion is necessarily relevant. It’s draining to sift through multiple subjective opinions on a single project...
Also, not every stakeholder has the capacity to provide valuable criticism. I find that no matter what, I have to have some level of confidence (and arrogance?) in order to decide which critiques are worth considering and which ones should be discarded all together.
Over time I’ve learned to filter out the useless critiques that don’t contribute to the development of my designs. But I have to say that it’s draining. I love design, but this is by far the part of the job that I like the least.