Graphic Designers and Their Top 5 Pet Peeves

How many times have you heard clients telling you things that make you want to crawl up the wall? Too many times. If you could, you would make a big list and post it on your office door and on your website, just to make sure you never hear them again. But you can’t.

However, we can compile them in this comprehensive top 5, and you can share it as much as you can. Until everyone knows that graphic designers dread hearing these words. And it is ripping them inside trying to find a proper answer to them. And that’s why we’re providing the answers, as well. So, read this, and pass it on.

 1. I’ll Know What I Like When I See It

Here you are, staring at your client, then back at the computer screen and wishing you were a mind reader. But you are not. Rather, you feel like an unsuspecting person picked up from his natural environment and dropped in the African savannah, without a map and a survival kit.

Whatever you say next might possibly antagonize the client, so the best thing to do is send the ball right back into his court. You may say something along the lines: “Okay, so what does it look like, this thing that you like?” It’s very possible that the client takes the bait and gives you some idea.

 2. Jazz It Up a Little

You are not a fan of jazz music. Or, even if you were, you find no connection points between that type of music and your design. What does the client mean? Bolder, brighter colors? Or literally a jazz band in the background? It is a mystery to everyone (including jazz music fans, we suspect).

The proper approach is to make a suggestion, any suggestion that first comes to your mind. The client will either enthusiastically approve it, or hotly refuse it and show you what he really means. He will doubt your cognitive powers from now on, but at least you know what he wants you to do.

 3. Just Make It Bigger in the Photo Editor

The client sent you a low resolution photo and wants you to use it in the design. You can’t do anything with it, the client doesn’t have a better one and insists that you use it. His whole business vision is comprised in that photo.

The only thing to do is to invite the client for a meeting where you make a practical demonstration. Blow up the photo, put it in the design and let the client admire the pixelated mess. You will probably need to spend half an hour explaining the principles of resizing digital images. The client will be just half convinced, but he will somehow search high and low (pun intended) for a proper photo.

 4. I Want Something Like This, But Make It Different

The client shows you a competitor’s design and wants you to do something that doesn’t look like downright plagiarism, but similar. It is a difficult moment, when you feel dragged into the abyss of philosophical concepts you can’t grasp. Different, but similar. What is different? What is similar? You don’t know, and the client doesn’t know, either.

The only solution is to explain the principles of copyright to the client. Tell him plainly that he can be hit with a lawsuit if his image looks similar to another company’s. Exaggerate a bit (you are not a lawyer to know precise details) and your client will be persuaded, eventually. If he insists…drop him. Last thing you need is to have plagiarism attached to your name.

 5. Can You Use More Fonts?

It is a moment of horror. You already made the title bold and san serif, and the bullet point headers in italics, now you have to use more fonts? You see your design transforming from a work of art into shish-kebab. But the client wants more fonts.

This is a moment when graphic designers have to take a decision: the professional dignity or the paycheck. If you’re well off, you can defend your design and say that one more font will ruin it. Or you can crush you feelings and go ahead. In some instances, you may be dealing with a client who is willing to let go of his beloved fonts. Kudos for you, you saved the day.


This list is by no means complete, but you would sprain your finger on the mouse wheel if we were to include everything we’ve seen and heard so far. I am sure you have a full list of your own. We would appreciate to hear your tales of horror. Halloween is coming after all, isn’t it?

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Ionut B
Digital Art Director with an innovative creative thinking able to translate ideas and concepts into useful and memorable interactive marketing campaigns.

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