As freelance graphic artists, we must approach business from a unique perspective. In our line of work, the client has a lot of control over choices that affect the final product. Of course, we use our best judgment as professionals when suggesting everything from initial design ideas to final output, but when the client is unwilling to think in our direction, is the customer always right?
When coming up with ideas for a project, I always want to make sure that I carefully listen to the needs and wants of my clients. I especially pay attention to what they don’t like, other projects they’ve seen that displease them and make sure to find out what elements don’t line up with their taste and style. On the other hand, I regard myself to be an artist with value, and a respect for “good” art. As careful as I am to encompass the client’s wishes into the project, I also am careful to maintain my artistic dignity. Here comes the conflict. While most clients will chose an artist because their style and previous portfolio experience matches with their own ideas of what graphic design should look like, some clients tend to fall back on their own unwavering viewpoints about things such as colors, layout and printing materials. If their choices appear to be tacky, displeasing to the eye, or just downright ugly, it is the graphic artist’s job to persuade otherwise, but is it the artist’s job to insist? Should an artist walk away from a project if the client won’t jump on board with their professional opinion? Should the work be completed, no matter what the output looks like, as long as the money has been exchanged as agreed? What crosses the line? Is there a line to be crossed? In my opinion, I stand behind my work 100 percent. I do not view my client’s projects as single pieces of work that will only be seen by their circle. Each project makes a significant stamp in my portfolio of work, and if something has been created that is not up to my standards, the word-of-mouth references alone would make me sick to my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, if my client wanted to use a white lily when I know a red rose would be better in their project, it’s not a deal breaker. Creative license is allowed simply because we all have differences of opinion and should. That’s what makes art so special and unique. But when cheap printing turns into a copy machine tragedy, or when an off font choice turns into a typographical disaster, as an artist that respects their work, one must stand up and say no. After all, if the client knew exactly what to do, they wouldn’t have called you in the first place, right? What do you think fellow artists? How would you handle a situation like this?