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For graphic designers, clients are everything. And why wouldn’t they? They are the chief source of revenue and income for designers. But no graphic designer is willing to sell his pride and prestige for any money. Designers get paid to work on graphic design projects and not listen to demeaning comments from clients. Although client criticism is part and parcel of the game, let us be clear on the two aspects of criticism.

The first aspect is the constructive criticism and the other is pessimistic criticism. Constructive criticism is always helpful for graphic designers as they help them identify their loopholes and strengthen their areas of weakness. Sometimes clients criticize simply because they want the designer to work with optimum efficiency. The other extreme is the pessimistic criticism. Some clients criticize just for the sake of it. Graphic designers need to distinguish between the two before reacting. But it’s always better to be proactive than reactive. Let us learn how we can handle client criticism in a proactive manner:


1. Become an active listener:

One of the best techniques of remaining proactive is to become an active listener. When graphic designers are tackling difficult clients, patience is virtue. Learn to listen more and speak less. That way you can avoid a tussle with the clients who mete out insults and verbal assaults. Even if the client is criticizing without a concrete reason, let him. Sooner or later, he will eventually become worn out of the arguing. There is no point in quarrelling over a discussion that has no end to it.

2. Control your anger:

Whether you work in the field of graphic design or not, there is one thing that we all need to be careful about. Professionalism demands control over your anger. It is a known fact that whosoever has let their anger get in the way of their professional dealings have been unsuccessful. While I know it is easy to say and difficult to implement this, we need to realize that whatever criticism we hear in our professional careers, there is nothing to take personal. That is why I particularly like the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

3. Distinguish good and bad criticism:

The first thing that you need to know while handling client criticism is to distinguish the good from the bad. As I mentioned earlier, some criticisms are for the graphic designers’ betterment and improvement, while some are just mere arguments for the sake of argument. There are some common statements that client say which can help identify the negative censure from the positive feedbacks. One way is of finding out is through bilateral communication. Try to clarify the intentions of the client and not presume what he meant to say.

4. Convince the client with your intellect:

There are two ways that a human body is administered. Either we do what our brains tell us or we listen to the heart. Although our heart helps us through many grave situations, but it is not very useful when someone is aggressively criticizing you and your work. This is the place where a calm and collected mind comes in handy. Instead of reacting brashly, try to convince your client using your intellect and brain power. Outwit the client with your knowledge and dexterity by giving logical and rational explanations.

5. Never panic:

Sometimes, clients can come up with outrageous suggestions and unfeasible deadlines for their project. This aggravates graphic designers who suddenly panic when they listen to these impractical things that clients ask them to do. The key here is never to say die. A competent graphic designer never backs down from challenges. If you are given an unachievable deadline to complete a project, don’t panic. Simply accept it and clarify the client the minimum time required in the entire procedure.

6. Be self-motivated:

The ultimate step to handling design criticism is to be self-motivated. Negative censure and verbal insults cause a graphic designer to lose enthusiasm in his work. It reduces the designer’s motivation level. Obviously, dealing with client objections and criticisms isn’t every graphic designer’s bag of tricks. You need to learn to be self-motivated constantly. The key here is to believe in yourself! If you think that you are right, then no amount of criticism can impair you.
I hope these points will help graphic designers overcome the menace of client criticism they face. Feel free to share your experiences and techniques of handing client criticism.

  1. Client Criticism for Graphic Designers – Not a big deal … | – WEB DESIGNING, Web Development, Wordpress Theme designing, Joomla theme On August 16th, 2010 at 5:46 am

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  1. Jeff On August 16th, 2010 at 9:46 am

    This is a fantastic topic for designers. I think #3 and 4 carry a lot of weight here. Make sure you and your client are speaking the same language and nothing is being misunderstood. And make sure your client understands your creative process. If they know that you are making decisions based on quality intellectual information, they will be more willing to hear and accept your explanation.

  1. Dan On August 16th, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Really good article for both graphic designers and clients. I would like to add that if a client asks you to try out an idea they have, it should be absolutely fine. If you are getting mad with your client, ask yourself if it is becuase you are not entirely sure how to create what they are asking or if they are legitimately wasting your time…

    If you’re not sure how to achieve what they are asking, then do your very best to learn - this is a great way to expand your knowledge with design and the tools you have at hand. I would always say push yourself, you’ll feel good about in the end and you’ll look really good in your clients eyes for trying.

    Kindest regards,
    Dan | Appletree Print

  1. Kelly On August 17th, 2010 at 2:47 am

    Some really helpful tips there that we can all take on board. I think deep down, most of us know this but it’s just hard to remember to keep calm in such situations and follow through so it’s good to be reminded once in a while.

  1. Alexander Jack On August 18th, 2010 at 4:14 am

    Nice points! But some time its very difficult to be motivated especially when the client is angry or the things are against you.

  1. Utah Graphic Designer On August 18th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I think it’s a balance between pleasing the client and helping them see your vision if you can improve upon what they already want. It is tricky, but if you maintain an open relationship things usually turn out alright.

  1. Adeodatus On August 19th, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Quite an inspirational and useful peace of information for graphic designer and. Practice makes perfect, gradually one gets used hence becomes better

  1. Paul McManus On August 31st, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I think a lot of the time the client has something in their head and you just need to meet in the middle…

  1. Andy Colclough On September 3rd, 2010 at 3:00 am

    Theres some really great points made here. I have just started a new job at Creare design (a web design company) and am having to start calling up clients to discuss their websites. These tips will help me out a lot when they’re shouting at me down the phone.

    Is there anything else anyone can think of that would help people like me out?


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