I was hearing this statement so often from a ‘client’ that I started to take it as an insult.

I still love Graphic Design, despite the bastardisation of this Art Form. Although half of my friends/college mates have long gone and moved on to greener creative pastures. I took a silent vow to stay put. Sigh! However, my creative joy is wavering. It stems from working with clients who do not know what they want. Especially when dealing with marketers.

Now, in an Advertising Agency, the Marketers are the Account Executive. Meaning the person in charge of that ‘account’ aka client. They meet directly with the client get the directive and then pass on the info to us lowly Designers.

It’s a little different when you are hired as an in-house Designer. Sometimes you are there for the meetings, and sometimes they already know what they want so the Marketing manager passes on the info for you to ‘make magic’. However, although everyone knows the directive, there are a few with the mentality of ‘I will know, when I see it’.

That’s the dilemma I found myself in. I know what I was soppose to do, but whenever I did it, I was met with a ‘meh’ attitude. Now, you simply must note, the concept wasn’t complicated, the concept wasn’t a major launch of a new product thing. It was straight forward, an informative design, utilizing the guidelines and design directive. It turned out the Marketer wanted something grandioso, while I was thinking like a consumer. What is it. How much is it. Where do I get it. Utilizing the guidelines!!!


Hence, my question, “What did you have in mind, give me your directive” Then the answer, “You’re the Designer” When I heard it for the forth time I realised it was an insult, not an attempt to give full autonomy. If it were, the next 5 changes wouldn’t occur. Another thing to note was I did several similar designs the week before for someone else in the department, and this new one was to be added to it. So it wasn’t that the design was horrible. It’s a case where this young marketer wanted to make their mark and I was the marker. 

I always try to please the clients, no matter what. But I started over thinking every aspect of the design, and second/third guessing everything. A simple-chic design, that’s consumer friendly and to the point. I started to shut down, my vroom vroom, was sputtering like a car with water in the fuel line. I did as I was told.

But I now live with regret – not speaking my mind as I should. To let this person know that hot, hype & heavy can become trite, tawdry & tasteless in a matter of mere minutes. Always think about the consumer/customer. What they are looking for – what do they want – even if they are from the hot, hype and heavy demographic. It will bore them quickly – if it is not clearly seen exactly what they are getting.

Design in it’s simplest form can be so bold, so dramatic and so impactful, that sometimes you don’t even need words!

– Creatively Yours