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The focal point of your graphic designing business is ‘The Client’. Without a client, you are merely fulfilling your passion as a graphic designer and nothing else. A client is your chief source of income and is critical to your survival in the design business. But you mustn’t get overly dependent on clients.

Some clients are such that they become a torture for graphic designers. They can do things that are out of the limitations of a client-designer relationship. For a graphic design project to work successfully, it requires mutual effort and cooperation. If any of these parties are not on the same page, then the whole project is nothing but a futile exercise. Therefore, here are some characteristics that will help you identify a potential troublemaker client so that you can avoid them.


1. The ‘know-it-all’ Clients:

know-it-all' Clients

Some clients have a knack of acting over-smart in front of the designers. They will boss you around even though what they know about graphic design could be written on a postage stamp. What happens is that these types of clients undermine the talent and capability of a graphic designer. No designer wants to play the role of a puppet in a design project. While providing suggestions and feedback is the prerogative of every client, being overly commanding can hinder a design project. Each time you try to explain them the technicalities of your design, the client would come up with opinions of their own to contradict you. So it is better that you avoid such clients that are a waste of your time and efforts.


2. The ‘Indifferent’ Clients:

Indifferent' Clients

Another breed of clients, completely in contrast with the previous ones, is the indifferent ones. While some clients have a habit of bossing around, some are divergent and detached from the project. In most of the projects, client involvement is important and the project but can move only a little forward. But these clients wouldn’t care less as to what colors you are employing or which fonts are being used. They would just come on the deadline date to collect the project files. Consequently, because of the clients’ aloofness from the project, there are miscommunications and flaws in the final design. Hence, one should avoid these types of clients, in order to save time, energy and resources.


3. The ‘Finicky’ Clients

When you come across a client that asks you to give samples before hiring you, you can certify that he is a bona fide troublemaker for you. Clients who ask for a demo and abscond after stealing your designs are crucial to avoid. These are the clients that will become even more choosy and finicky IF they hire you. It becomes almost impossible to make these clients say yes to your designs. However it is acceptable to do some revisions as per the client’s demands, some bad clients ask for so many amendments that it occupies your time worth other potential projects.


4. The ‘Hasty’ Clients

Hasty' Clients

There will be times when you will come across clients who will make you feel like a Pizza delivery man. They will speed into your premises and hastily ask for a design within minutes. What they underestimate is that design concepts are work of a thorough mental process and take time to execute. Graphic designers must steer clear of these types of clients in order to avoid any blushes on your portfolio.


5. The ‘Cheapskate’ Client

Hasty' Clients

Last but not least, there are the clients who look for a bargain every time they approach a graphic designer. Even though you define your fee as a fixed sum, these clients would assume that it is just a starting point for further negotiations. Not only do they haggle over your hard earned money, they undermine your worth as a graphic designer. So instead of lowering your standards for cheapskates, it is better to avoid such clients who don’t value your work.

Have you encountered any of the above clients? If yes, then how did you deal with them?



  1. bobs On August 8th, 2011 at 5:36 am

    The article is very interesting one actually. There are few categories,

    1. ‘broad minded’
    They always say that they are open to any ideas, but when it comes to reality the kill us by their suggestions.

    2. What else
    Even if you pulled out your brain into the monitor he will ask for another option! These terrible psychos believe, softwares are filled with options that can be customized any time. they always ask, what else you can do?

    3. swiss watches
    Once they brief about the requirements, the moment they required the stuff. they say ‘ o yea. shall we start?

  1. Adriana On August 8th, 2011 at 9:15 am

    The “know-it-all” and the “hasty” clients surround me…

  1. SP On August 8th, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Number 5 is the worst of all.

  1. Lisa Raymond On August 8th, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Good reminders of what type of clients designers should avoid. It’s worse when a client possess two or three of the characteristics described above.

  1. Business Card Magnets On August 8th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Sad to say, I always encounter “hasty” clients. I strongly agree with you, they really make you feel like a Pizza delivery and even more than that. They always want to have an output immediately, they just can’t understand the process that graphic designers should undergo before producing wonderful designs.

  1. Jennifer Jones On August 9th, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Well, it is an interesting post… describing the typical types of clients.

  1. Dezign Solutions On August 9th, 2011 at 2:29 am

    I think I’ve had every one of those clients! The worst had to be the know-it-all. He told me that he didn’t believe the studies that had been done regarding design trends. He became so difficult to work with that I fired him as a client while we were still in the mockup phase!

  1. Adam Booth On August 9th, 2011 at 3:07 am

    This is a great, interesting post. It may be a little stereotypical but it is totally true and real.

    I believe, and in my own personal experience as a web designer at Creare Communications, that The ‘know-it-all’ Clients are the worst to work with and should be avoided when possible. The reason they have contacted us ( the designer ) is to produce something that they have little or no expertise in and would not be able to even think about attempting to produce themselves, so why do they insist on trying to tell us how to do our job and shoot down all ideas and concepts because it isn’t one they came up with. That’s why you wanted us to work on it in the first place.

    Working with all these types of clients can be infuriating and more trouble then its worth.

  1. Neoheartbeat On August 9th, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Yes, I totally agree with you. All of them have been met. Those types of clients are unavoidable, I guess. Sometimes I feel like running away leaving all the work undone. But In my opinion, we must try to face and stand the situation maturely coz money sometimes talks.

  1. Sarah On August 9th, 2011 at 6:49 am

    I’m pretty sure my company only hires these kinds of clients because “we need the money.” Bleh. So, if we should avoid these types and decline to work with them, how do we either a: educate them to turn them into ideal clients (is that even possible?) or b: attract the right kind of clients?

  1. LogoTemplate On August 9th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Great and interesting post! Unfortunately…I know very well the “know it all” clients!!

  1. Yaira On August 9th, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Yup… gotta hate those that want nothing more than look over your shoulder and tell you what to do, step by step… and then come back with revisions at the last minute. Most of them would look puzzled whenever I tried to explain I didn’t want to produce work to their standards with my name attached to it. I guess out of the list I mind the aloof clients the least. You can get away with being creative and doing something different, and a lot of times that brings in other clients that get to see the product. Unlike #1…

  1. Anil Amrit On August 10th, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Great article and I too have experienced all the types at some point.
    Point 3 & 5 are spot on and can really annoy and offend the most hardened designer.

    Still tough trying the filter and identify bad payers though.

  1. Beth On August 10th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Well, we are all in agreement on this, yes? Clients can seriously drive me insane, but I gotta put up with it if I want business. Its a trade-off for being your own boss.

  1. FA Daniels On August 10th, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    This post is just too funny but the insight is really there! I’m sure many designers can relate to this..

  1. Libby On August 11th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    If we avoided all the clients you’ve typed here we would have little or no work. It takes all kinds and rarely do you see the perfect client. Rather I think the perfect client is cultivated. I think it’s the job of the designer to educate these types of people and I’ve found most can be educated if approached the right way.

  1. Samantha On August 12th, 2011 at 12:45 am

    How about adding the “Chancer Client” - These are the guys that sign off on the quote you give them, but then go beyond the scope of the project, expecting freebies left, right and center!
    Now THOSE drive me nuts!

    Great article! Thanks for sharing!! :)

  1. DJ Perez On August 12th, 2011 at 1:05 am

    All of them are really bad. If you can avoid them is better for you.

  1. Katie On August 12th, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Not just indifferent, but indecisive! There are some the don’t respond with changes in any sort of timeline, then complain because the job takes too long.

    How about the blamers? The one’s that send a proof (not a final) to the printer then blame the designer for it being wrong.

  1. Jeremy On August 12th, 2011 at 10:33 am

    So what you are saying is. . . do not accept any clients? Cause this covers ALL of them.

  1. Mike On August 13th, 2011 at 2:24 am

    I have meet them all. Worst is if you get a combination of two, like know it all + hasty :(

  1. Craig Richards On August 13th, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Unfortunately with the economy as it is at the moment, there are more and more #5′s popping up!! The plethora of £199 website + SEO + CMS type companies is only adding to this problem!

    Great little article by the way ;)

  1. Delsy Rubio On August 13th, 2011 at 11:33 am

    The article seems excellent to me! I’ve run into each other more, like these, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a perfect client, but our job as designers would be meaningless without them. The closest to perfection would be the client who knows what she wants and clearly their requirements and needs to get aware that their projects the best way, is based on what he considers according to your needs the best designer, paying price required. But as we do not know when a customer is good up here, as they know when they are dealing with the designer for them? probably at first seek some kind of reference especially if the investment project is large.

  1. Jenn On August 13th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks for this post! Sadly, my biggest client qualifies for 4 of these types, lol.

  1. Simon Clavey On August 14th, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I seem to get an awful lot of numbers 1 and 3, I don’t know whether I let off a ‘please walk over me’ aura or what

  1. Rockstar for Hire On August 14th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Oh my, I ‘love’ the know-it-all clients the most! They want this want, want that, they know you can finish it with this much time, they’re ‘sure’ that the images they supplied are high-res enough (even though they just stole it from a search results page)… Don’t they just make the whole process very… colorful? :)

  1. hinuvi On August 15th, 2011 at 1:50 am

    All of these clients are a pain in the back.Especially the Hasty clients.
    great article

  1. Leroy On August 15th, 2011 at 2:21 am

    I totally hate the know it all clients! they are a real pain plus they tend to to be the stingy type as well.

  1. Catherine Go On August 15th, 2011 at 2:57 am

    @sp I agree with you, I hate number 5 the most..and what’s more…They are all around me..maybe because I am still a student. But it really pisses me off.

    I wish we designers had some kind of stethoscope to know the kind of clients we are dealing with lol

  1. Graphic Design Cranbrook Academy On August 16th, 2011 at 12:45 am

    I just finished my graphic designing course and I am now looking for clients. I am glad that I found this post first. Now I know that there are clients like. I am now prepared when I encounter them.

  1. Toms Mom On August 17th, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Absolute worst client ever - a combo of all of the above:
    I have a client that wants a deal for each project, beats me up about my designs and then when I implement their suggestions, nitpicks them to death, and doesn’t hesitate to point out mistakes I’ve made in the past, but then turns around and tells all of their associates what a WONDERFUL genius designer I am…but never gives me any praise.
    I’m working on what I hope is the last project with them.

  1. Keith On August 18th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    A useful list. But I have no doubt that we all have them, at least one from every category. it would be interesting to see how everyone handles those clients.

  1. Maryanne On August 19th, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Number 5′s are the absolute worst, especially when you give them a price and they say “Cool, I’ll get back to you” and when they do its usually to tell you that they got their design work done for next to nothing. But the up-side of that is…it usually looks like crap :D

  1. Jim On August 19th, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Number 5 seems common for me.

  1. xeoz On August 22nd, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I for once met a client (friend of mine) that wants to pay about $15 for a brochure.
    fine, since it’s easy job, but then he asked ‘umm… can you make $15 with also the logo?’

  1. Inkzoo On August 22nd, 2011 at 2:04 am

    I guess at a certain point designers need to draw the line…..We should start respecting designers and their work…nice post….

  1. Webdesignexpertz On August 24th, 2011 at 6:08 am

    I have often faced Cheapsake ones !!

    Truely agreed with the points above….

  1. Toni On August 27th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I have had experiences with all of them! The finicky and know-it-all clients are the worse for me. These clients can be downright rude, insulting, and just hard to please. They both take up valuable time you could be spending marketing your business and networking with other clients. I deal with them by being honest with them about the design process upfront and how I work. Yes, you are paying me and it’s your website but that’s no right to be rude. (As you can see, I am very passionate about this topic…)

  1. design On August 29th, 2011 at 4:56 am

    We designers fequently facing these types of clients .It will be better if we can find solution how to tackle these clients.Simply avoid it not the proper solution.

  1. Gary On August 29th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Part of the challenge of being a good designer is not rejecting clients but learning to work with those personality types (which lets face it all clients tend to exhibit at some time) to produce good work. It’s not easy but it’s reality.

  1. Engine 9 Design On August 30th, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for this post. I appreciate all of the comments also…others feel my pain. Educate the client. Don’t take anything for granted and yes hold their hand. If you anticipate obstacles from the get go then maneuvering them is much easier. Also stay positive. :)

  1. William DuBois On September 12th, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    This is 100% correct. Once you have dealt with each one, you find your own unique way of avoiding these pitfalls, but they are most CERTAINLY there. It’s sad, because they devalue our profession.

  1. Brad Miller On September 13th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I’ve had all of these clients. I can’t put their bad behavior on them, because I rarely turn away a client, even if I see the red flags. I pride myself in working will with others, but perhaps we would be better off if I turned down more work. It’s hard to do these days.

    Thanks for the post.

  1. Uk Gritting On September 13th, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I often hire designers. I wonder which category they would put me in LOL. I guess its not just designers that need to look out for these types of clients that can lead to a nervous breakdown

  1. Jennifer On September 16th, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I just graduated and my very first web design client is the ‘Indifferent Client’. She really believes that being completely indifferent to what happens to her site makes my job easier. Soo wrong! No matter what I ask she tells me to use my own judgement. I have had to build an entire site off of a very poorly designed logo made in Paint. However, I look at it as a very big challenge, one that will make me stronger in the end….I hope.

  1. Scott On September 20th, 2011 at 11:23 am

    know one likes a know it all, these kind of people never get too far anyway. It’s true that many clients can easily fall into one of these categories.

  1. Joe On September 20th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    i’ve dealt with all these categories, and yes i try to avoid all of these types of people.

  1. Michelle On September 20th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Well lets just say that I’m not looking forward to dealing with these types of clients, but at least I can now perhaps see them before they hit! Thanks for the heads -up!

  1. Michela On September 22nd, 2011 at 5:26 am

    I have a client at the moment and I just don’t know what to call him… He goes - “I’d like this, and I’d like that and bit of sort of that. Yes!! That’s great!! Just what I asked for! I love it!!”

    And then…

    “Actually… can we try something completely different?”

  1. website design On October 12th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Number 5 is the worst of all.

  1. Karen On October 24th, 2011 at 5:12 am

    After 25 years in the industry I have come across every one of these and many combinations. I should have learned by now how to avoid them but in these uncertain economic times designers are taking whatever work they can get, regardless of the quality of the client. It’s all very well advising people to avoid them but it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to. I swear some clients think that all we do is press one button on our keyboard in order to do our job. Good article though, it’s nice to be able to name and categorise those who make their suppliers’ lives difficult!

  1. Maria Cristal On November 3rd, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Karen, so true…. RT: . I swear some clients think that all we do is press one button on our keyboard in order to do our job.

  1. Image Masking On November 8th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Luckily, we don’t face any of these :)

  1. frank On November 9th, 2011 at 5:34 am

    What about when you ask for something professional, and get a cartoon instead.. when prices cost 1000+ easily, I think its safe to say that these people are defending their hard earned money and aren’t gonna take just anything because the graphic designer is busy. I just got a piece I am pretty disappointed with and am not sure what to say its completely wrong I feel like he wasn’t listening. This is quite an expensive service but I feel like going with someone else, all 3 are completely off?

  1. Denver graphics designs On November 9th, 2011 at 7:09 am

    You are right that we should beware from these types of clients always. these types of clients are not so much good for web designing companies.

  1. Eric On November 13th, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Number 1, I think they are really the kind of clients you don’t want!

  1. Ly On December 17th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Stingy ones are too common. Hate it when they ask for discount. But when the design process takes more time and efforts than expected they don’t bother to offer to pay extra. No point requesting them for the extra pay as they would probably not going to agree to the idea.

    The type I hate the most is one who wants something done urgently asap immediately after the brief is given but when the draft is presented to them they tend to keep a long silence, ignores all the follow-up emails from you and drag the whole design process for months, when they actually wanted it done within a short period of time.

  1. Tanya On December 27th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I run into the know it all cheapskates.
    That is annoying to be nickeled and dimed to death after providing good work.

    I agree with Ly they want it quick and then drag the payment and response process out,
    But I have decided to create a contract with all clients for 2012 that says the design turn around and the payment turn around are the same number of days and fees will attach if those days are exceeded. I don’t care anymore if the know it all hasty cheapskate doesn’t want to work with me. I will make more money with clients that have better intentions—So let’s get on with it!

  1. Jean On January 6th, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I am not shocked to see the comments are a mile long. If anyone has been designing for awhile, especially freelancing, this is something most/all of us NEED to go thru. Thinking back on my one client that had all 5 listing above rolled into one big lesson, I feel the need to grab a drink AND my inhaler.

    Thank you so much for posting this. It needs to be said. Especially to those new designers trying to figure out how to charge. The flip side of this is…don’t take every client that comes thru your door. Knowing who to say no to, is the best part of experiencing these types of clients. (after the fact)

    @ Frank, I understand where you are coming from. It is also hard to be on your end. If I wasn’t a designer, I would have a hard time paying for this service too. It is too bad that you don’t like any of the designs. Did you see the designer’s work before you hired them? And if so, did you like their style? I know it is a little late now. You should compile a list of designer types to stay away from!

    I’ll give it a shot.

    1,2,3,4,5. Know it all’s that can’t work as a team with the client. HINT: (THEY ARE DEFENSIVE. PERIOD) !

  1. Jonathan Stevens On January 9th, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I won’t touch any client that describes their project as a “dynamic enterprise promising great future opportunities” or whatever other newspeak they want to use

  1. Alexander Marvel On February 5th, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    When I read number 1 and number 5, I felt like shaking my screen and shouting “YES, YES! I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE”.

    My, oh my, If I had a dollar for every time I ran into those situations…

  1. Whit On February 16th, 2012 at 2:14 am

    Don’t forget the “Friend” client… they want you to do a high dollar job for free or at a steep discount. Then they send you a thousand little “suggestions.” Every time a friend asks me for a favor I cringe.

  1. Mike On February 16th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    This is a brilliant blog and that is so true, it is hard to deal with some clients.

  1. Reeha@printer toners On February 26th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Fantastic info. I wasted my times with such clients in beginning of business however now well aware of some of types you mentioned above however others are quite new for me. will surely overcome to such clients also.

  1. MAP-IT Inc. Graphic Designing On April 24th, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Very informative post. The number 1, 4 and number 5 clients are worst. The hasty clients always gets the useless design due to there hurry in our work.

  1. Jim Adams On April 27th, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Couldnt be better put if I tried. My only addition to this list would be the client who dangles carrots in front of you with the promise of more work to come. Uh-huh, yup, sure, I believe you. In my early days I believed them and suffered for it.

    One sniff of the phrase “….and if we get this done then theres loads more work to come” and I politely walk away. Well, nearly always politely :0)

  1. printing maryborough On June 13th, 2012 at 9:30 am

    i definitely, you have to know the attitude and the desire of your client to get more known what will you designing and their satisfaction.

  1. Simon O'Neill On June 20th, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I agree with most of the comments. I find that if you sit the client down and explain all the processes involved and the time it takes, they begin to understand. However if the client isn’t willing to listen, then it’s time to walk away. Too many clients today expect the job to be done but haven’t actually actually thought out what they’re trying to achieve. If you understand your client’s business, then you have a good chance of producing a creative and necessary solution, even if you get a bad brief.

  1. Flexa On July 19th, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I faced all but these are all chance to prove

  1. James Gardinr On November 10th, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Have encountered all of these.
    Clients come to me for designs - then dictate what I should do, want it in a matter of sometimes hours! and when it is complete they then decided to negotiate my fee. I seem to encounter this all the time. Now I pick and choose the client very carefully and from the beginning show them that i Do not work for them and I am not their slave - To come to an agreed complete work of art designer and client need to be on same road, if not see ya later mate cant work for you can only work with you.

  1. Nancy On July 11th, 2013 at 9:55 am

    If I didn’t have those 5 types of clients I wouldn’t have any clients at all.

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