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Being a professional in the realm of graphic design, designers often tend to become egotistic and overconfident. Sometimes we become so selfish, we tend to forget who we are designing for. Designing for passion is a good sign but you cannot overlook the fact that clients are the real people you are designing for.

Being overly selfish in graphic designing can prove to be fatal since you are not in the business to satisfy yourself. On the other hand, being overly selfless can make you reliant on the client and keep you away from success. In order to be professional graphic designers, one must be impartial and objective in making all the decisions for a project. You must free yourself from any negative influences that might adversely affect your productivity as a designer.

Today, I think it will be interesting if we list the differences between a designer who works for self-satisfaction and a designer who works for client satisfaction.


Traits of a Selfish Designer:

In order to identify a selfish designer, below are some of their common traits and their way of thinking. If you hear the following statements from your designer, you can rest assure that he is self-centered and egotistic.


• “My previous design was a hit, so I’ll re-create it for you”

Some designers have a knack of bragging about their previous creations.  Without considering client needs, they would ‘recommend’ that since their earlier design was a sensation, he would re-create a similar one for the client with minor tweaks. This is a clear sign of a designer who just wants to please himself by repeating his earlier success.

• “I must create an award-winning design”

Some types of graphic designers work with the intention of winning awards rather than satisfying the clients. These designers, in the process of creating award-winning designer, undervalue the client’s perspective completely. Their soul concern is to create something that the design critiques will like instead of pleasing their clients.

• “I know precisely what the client wants”

The worst mistake graphic designers make is presume that they know everything. Especially when it comes to client requirements, one must never presuppose what the client wants. Just because you successfully gauged the needs of your previous client, you cannot measure every client with the same scale. Each client has different set of requirements that must be addressed.

• “The design should be cool”

For a client, the logo must be effective in drawing customer attention. If a designer that the design should be cool and decorative in appearance, it means he/she isn’t considering the client’s business identity. Selfish designers generally want to look cool in front of their peers and thus pursue a flash and showy design. But for clients, a cool design is one that is effective.


Traits of a Selfless Designer:

Having discussed the attributes of a selfish designer, let us take a look at how clients can distinguish a selfless designer.


• “I need your opinion on this one”

For a designer who works for the client rather than for self-satisfaction, obtaining opinion from client is imperative. A selfless designer would place the client’s requirements before his own opinions and creative thoughts. He would pay heed to their each and every detail and try to adjust their way of designing according to those perquisites.

• “I must satisfy the client”

For a selfless designer, winning awards is secondary to pleasing their clients. Unlike selfish designers, who work just to please the award critiques and win laurels, selfless designers’ main purpose is to satisfy the client by fulfilling the requirements. For me, pleasing the clients is an award in itself.

• “The design must be effective”

As discussed earlier, selfish designers focus on creating designs that are visibly attractive and ‘cool in appearance’. But for designers who work for clients rather than their own pride, their focus in on making effective designs rather than ornamental ones that will influence the target audience.


So which of these designers would you consider yourself to be? Do you design for self pride or for client satisfaction?

Author Charlie B. Johnson

has written Posts 388 .

  1. Majuterus On November 16th, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Of course selfless designer is the right option, but it’s hard not to be egotistic. I’m still learning to remove that.

  1. Jerry Van On November 16th, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Well I see the difference very clear, but it doesn’t become clear which type is better, or maybe the truth like always is somewhere in the middle?

  1. Morgan & Me Creative On November 16th, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    The end result (final creative) has to work both ways, mainly for the client though but if that means the designer has totally lost a self identity with it, then that is bad work. Great design is a two way street, the client sees their message and branding in it, the designers sees triumph and is proud of his/her work.

  1. Adam @ Pixelbot On November 16th, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Good post.

    I try to maintain a little of both the “selfish” and “selfless” qualities you mentioned.

    I think it’s important to understand that in the end, pleasing your client and giving them what they need is the most important matter at hand, but you must also realize that you are the expert, and they’ve come to you for a reason.

    I think it all boils down to a good mix of confidence (not arrogance) and humility.

  1. Richard Ball On November 18th, 2011 at 2:21 am

    you’re right there are just too many sites out there that clearly don’t communicate what they were attended to, designers need to meet the brief first before their own ego!!


  1. hagen On November 19th, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Selfish in that you are confident of success and your ability (without being cocky)
    Selfless in that you will still follow the steps necessary to satisfy the client (without being a pushover)

    A definite balancing act that, being human, we all need to continually adjust.

  1. Kartika On November 19th, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I used to be too selfless, tried too hard to please the customer. So I always did what they want me to, even though it’s not the best practice on doing it.
    Though I hate to code messily, I had difficult times to tell them my opinion.
    After few readings and some clients, I learn that I should just say my 2 cents, discuss it rather enforce it.
    And sometimes I learn from them too, to see it from different POV.

  1. Tyler Herman On November 20th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Very good points. So many designers, especially new ones, are looking to build their portfolio or do something other than satisfy their clients needs. Designers solve problems and if your needs come into play you cannot do that effectively.

  1. taylor On November 21st, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    You have some great points there. It’s really a reality nowadays. A lot are really egotistic about it and think it’s a great way to market themselves.

  1. John @ Start Mission On November 23rd, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    This post really explains why I love working with designers who:

    a) listen to what I have to say
    b) explain to me why some design aspects work and why some don’t

    A selfless designer is interested in my success as well.

  1. growstudio On November 24th, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I think that a company hires design services to grow your business and generate sales, not bad help assess your situation to the client to achieve higher sales, but neither is going to depreciate the opinion of someone who is skilled in his work, this being an important support in the final result. There are clients who dont know nothing about design and leave it to us and our work is complete a project useful, practical and functional.

    Nice post!

  1. Esstische On December 7th, 2011 at 6:07 am

    To often Selfless …

  1. harryposter On January 8th, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    1. You have to be selfish to sell yourself to a new client
    2. You have to be totally selfless when the deal is done, include unlimited revisions in your quote etc.
    3. Job done and delivered, you have to be selfish to get paid

    It seems that most posts on this thread are from schoolboys…

    But yes, selfish/selfless, it’s a mix of the two and applies to any industry: it’s called business

    Signed: 26-year experience, would you call me a mega-senior designer?

  1. Graha Nurdian On January 22nd, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Well, as a human, sometimes I coincidentally i put my ego into my project :D

  1. Boris Vasiljevic On January 24th, 2012 at 1:20 am

    I have to agree with Harryposter on this. Clients rarely appreciate selflessness, and tend to exploit that as a weak spot in someone who does a paid service to them. Although depicted traits of selfish designer are seemingly undesireable, I think that to act overly self-confident is expected in advance. You fail to do that – you loose professional compentence in client’s eyes. Trust me, these are years of experience talking. That is the moment when they take over, and the designer becomes not more than a computer operator.
    Graphic Design is an applied art. So – firstly “applied” and then “art”. It is usage which must be satisfied (justified) first, not the client and not the designer. Artistic part is implementing client’s requirements into usable design.

  1. David On January 30th, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Really good points that aren’t emphasised often enough – design is about function. You have to make it work well for everyone, not just for yourself

  1. 99designs Reviews On January 31st, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Good article. If you ask your client about your 10 positive things about your work may be they find it difficult to do so. But they will have no problem identifying 10 negative things and they will quickly count your mistakes. So it’s an achievement for graphic designers to make less mistakes and give your clients 100% satisfaction from your work with full of dedication.

  1. Kelly On March 1st, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Yes, you’re definitely right, please your clients first not the other way around. Most of the clients are pretty successful in their fields, you don’t need to tell them what to do.

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