//** * * */

The unspoken rules of graphic design.

1. Your fonts will default to the worst possible font available on the machine you are showing your work on.

2. If you have two versions of a photo, the wrong one will make its way to the printer.

3. The less time you have the more useless your computer will become.

4. Promises made by the sales staff have no basis in reality.

5. The sales staff will promise anything.

6. If the text consists of two words, one will be misspelled.

7. Speed. Quality. Affordability. Pick any two.

8. If the run is wrong, it's never the press operator's fault.

9. Spell checkers don't.

10. Grammar checkers don't, either.

11. Proof raeders are useless.

12. Global search-and-replaces aren't.

13. The index entry you leave out will be the first one the client looks under.

14. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is good comedy.

15. If three designs are shown to a client, your least favorite will be chosen or any combination of worst components of each.

16. If two designs are shown, a third will be requested. If provided, then one of the first two will be chosen.

17. If you ask for more copy it will be sent as a .jpg. If you ask for images they will send powerpoint presentations.

18. Clients don't have their company logo in a usable print ready format so don't bother asking.

19. Blue line proofs reveal previously invisible errors.

20. The best designs never survive contact with the client.

21. You will misspell the name of the client's spouse.

22. Your best idea is already copyrighted.

23. The best way to find errors in your code is to show a client "a new feature".

24. There is no stock photo ever made that matches the image you have in your head.

25. Creative inspiration flows in inverse proportion to the distance from the studio.

26. Time allowed to complete work is inversely proportional to time taken by client to work out what to complain about.

27. Doctors, astronauts, and plumbers need training to do their jobs, but anyone with a computer is a graphic designer.

28. No matter how detailed the tech support FAQ is, nobody has ever heard of your problem.

29. The number of colors in a client's design will equal the number of colors in the original bid specs, plus two.

30. The client's disk won't run on your equipment & when it does will contain unusable copyrighted images.

31. If you purchase new equipment to read your client's disk, it will be the last disk of that type you will ever receive.

32. Your client will often not like your design but not quite know why.

33. Computer crashes always happen exactly 30 seconds before saving.

34. A client who knows exactly what he wants is worse than one that has no idea.

35. Clients who do not provide content upfront will complain about the use of Lorem Ipsum.

36. Everything has to be done immediately, deadlines are incredibly important unless client has to provide materials or approve your work.

37. The customer is always right . And an idiot.

There are at least 5 things you could think to add to this list if only you had more time. So go ahead, add them.

Adland® is supported by your donations alone. You can help us out by donating via Paypal.
Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
Files must be less than 1 MB.
Allowed file types: jpg jpeg gif png wav avi mpeg mpg mov rm flv wmv 3gp mp4 m4v.
Dabitch's picture

Hey tlevitz, long time no see round these parts. :) Good to see ya.

Then of course there is #38. When all is finished and tweaked and had the starburts in place the client will suddenly want to run the very same ad in a very different format: Like a bus-poster instead of a single-page press.
"It won't take that long" they chirp happily "all you have to do is enlarge the whole thing a little." they say as they look at you as if you were a human copier-machine with a hidden "enlarge 1000%" button somewhere.

AnonymousCoward's picture

Brilliant strategy. Or, as your average corporate client would say, "That's a win-win! Feel the synergy!"

anothercopywriter's picture

Yes! And don't get me started on public radio undwriting spots--15 seconds, no call to action, etc., etc., etc.

Dabitch's picture

Aaaah!!! Who let you in!? :) I keed.

Yaknow, I actually made the logo 30% smaller than I really wanted it to be at the first presentation, so that you could look the layout over and then ask me to make the logo bigger, three times before it became silly to ask for that yet again. I'd make it 10% bigger every time, and in the end, I get the logo-size I want, and you get the logo-size you asked for. Ain't love grand?

AnonymousCoward's picture

Enough bashing o'the clients. Yes, clients don't know much about file formats. Sometimes, they have a gut reaction that tells them a design is wrong for the project, but they can't put it into words. True enough. They're suits, not designers, and often they may not know better. It is rarely malicious, irritating as it may be.

But remember that not all designers, art directors, and copywriters are as talented as you are. The first two - or 20 - comps might just suck. And suck hard. Even the best in the business produce half-assed work on occasion, so remember what the typical ad hack comes up with at the deadline. Creatives who don't care: This is what clients deal with far too often.

The client is always right. And, sometimes, just sometimes, the client really is right.

P.S. Can you make the logo bigger?

Dabitch's picture

Wiith radio, the client always wants a puny 15 second script with 20 seconds worth of must have brand-name-repeating words they simply can't do the ad without.

AnonymousCoward's picture

The clients who spend the least are the most demanding, most untrusting of your ability and give you the most grief. On the other hand, the clients who spend the most are the least demanding, most trusting of your ability and give you the least grief.

anothercopywriter's picture

With copy, the reverse seems true: The amount of information clients want to cover often seems inversely proportional to the size of the ad they're willing to pay for.

Dabitch's picture

Oh yeah, I so know what they mean about the data in that saying. This damn website is like Kudzu. I plop a new disk or two in and overnight it's like KUDZU EAT CAR!! and the disk or partition is 100% full and I need more space. Good thing bigger disks are getting cheaper all the time. ;)

Allan1's picture

As a computer consultant, ALL of these apply to some degree to my work as well! Especially #'s: 3,4,5,7,12,23,26,28,31,32,33,34,36, & 37[!!!!!!!]. (Note that I often need to make presentations to clients, and am expected to include their logo in the presentation, without being sent any - and not allowed to copy any from their current website). There's one computer adage (also an engineering one) that goes something like: "Work will expand to fill the available time. Data will expand to fill the available space". [My bad paraphrasing, I'm afraid]. It is implied that time and space will be overfilled! Allan

James_Trickery's picture

I love you guys. You understand. *sobs*

caffeinegoddess's picture

Or even worse they suggest just shrinking it down to make it into a web ad. ;)

tlevitz's picture

As for number two: if the client places the ad himself, he'll give you the wrong size and it's usually too small. Production will not bother to inform either you or the client and will simply try to enlarge the ad. If someone does bother to call and the size isn't too far off, production will disregard your request to just float it and try to enlarge the art or, stick a border on it.

For number 18, sure they've got a logo and they're faxing it over right away.

The client will wait until his print job has been delivered before calling with "just one more thing."

If , upon a client's request, you email him an EPS of his logo, he will call wanting to know why he "can't see the attachment." Even if you explain it beforehand -- 'cause they never, ever read your emails or memos or listen to you on the phone.

You will, at some point, forget to add an extension. The lazy folks in whatever production department, rather than figure it out, will immediately call you to say the file's bad (not that that's an excuse for sloppiness but...).

DanielDragonFilms's picture

One of my *proudest* technological moments is when I had to lift a logo for a sponsor (for a film festival) from their website on short notice, to put at the end of a promotional trailer.

It was hidden in a background DIV tag with some minor javascript. Easy for me to find after 15 years of building websites, not so easy for some kid out of film school.

hadi's picture

So true...even after 6 yrs nothing changed!
cheers fellows!

erd's picture

Client will always be excited to share new ideas such as revolving globe and popping stars but when you will not like you to tell that it will cost 5 times more of what he initially intended to design. I wonder why is payment always the last thing discussed between a client and a freelancer where as it should be the other way around.

Jason Lee Smith's picture

Yep, this all sounds about right. Especially number 27. ALL clients think they are designers.

DS's picture

All of these are funny, except for #11. That's probably because I'm a "proof raeders."

Fennec's picture

#38 (print shops): when ever someone brings a picture to be printed, it is never the right size nor is it ever in proportion to the size that they want.

#39 (print shops): when a client has a table to print out, it will always be sent in the worst possible format: Microsoft Excel.

#40 (design): when ever a client wants a logo, they will say the sky is the limit. Your options will be so unlimited because the client doesn't know what they want. Then the client will complain that you didn't give them the logo that they wanted.

#41 (print shops): a customer will come in at the last minute before they have a meeting or before they have something due, and request that a large and complex print job be done in 15 minutes.

#42 (print shops): you may know how to use InDesign, but no one else at the print shop knows how to use it. You were hired because of your technical skills, and you will get fired if you use them. In addition, the other workers will know how photoshop works, yet won't be able to figure out InDesign or Illustrator.

#43 (print shops): the printers will refuse the print when the store is at rush hour. When this happens, a client will come in to pick up their prints, and it isn't done because the workers before you forgot about it. You take the heat.

#44 (print shops): a customer will call when the shop opens asking if their business cards have been finished. When you ask when they emailed you the files to be printed, the client will inform you that the files were sent at midnight last night, hours after the shop closed and thus no one was able to do them.

#45 (design): if you as a student choose Windows, you will regret it when you get to typography class because you can't simply copy and paste Mac fonts into a Windows box.

#46 (design): if you don't have Adobe CC and you are a commuter student, you will forget the flash drive that has your files.

#47 (design): when your term paper is due or your final design project is due, none of the printers on campus will work. If you have a printer, it will jam.

ProWeb365's picture

I am working as a graphic designer in Minneapolis, MN. It's really funny to read all these rules..Not all, but most of them are true.