The Sh#t graphic designers say to clients and what we really mean

Let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty of saying sh#t to customers that’s totally not true!

From agreeing to a ridiculous deadline to taking on board their questionable creative ideas, we’ve all stretched the truth once or twice probably more.

Of course, it always comes from the very best place. We tell these little white lies because we’re trying so damn hard to keep our customers happy. We don’t want to let them down. But, at the same time, we’re only human.

There’s only 24 hours in the day, and you’re already working 20 of those 24 hours. So sometimes you need to buy yourself some time and stretch the truth to save your client relationships. Does that make you a bad person? Hell no!

Now, just to make it clear, we’re not encouraging you to be dishonest. And we’re certainly not condoning not delivering. But, if you have to stretch things a little bit until you can deliver, that’s ok just do what you’ve got to do to make that customer happy.

Although, insider tip, once you get more experienced and better at saying no, you won’t have to lie as often. (Check out our guide to saying no here)

We’ve found some AMAZING examples of the sh#t designers say to their clients, here are some of our favourites.

Sh#t Designers Say to clients

What you say: I stayed up all night working on this project for you.
What you mean: I’ve whipped this up in the 15 minutes I had spare before talking to you because I’m so behind on all my projects.

Sure, you wanted to stay up working on the project all night for them but, in reality, you were up until 3am working on someone else’s project.

What you say: We’re too busy to take on any more projects at the moment.
What you mean: You’re a terrible client and we just can’t deal with you this week.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all had those weeks where we just can’t face certain clients without hitting breaking point!

What you say: I typically charge $1000 for a logo.
What you mean: I’ve never charged anywhere near that much for a logo. Ever. But please just give me this job.

The truth is, when you’ve got an opportunity to charge $1000 for a logo, go for it! The risk is small but the opportunity is potentially HUGE. The difference between getting $100 for a logo and $1000 for a log is usually just asking for it so ask for it!

What you say: What?! You didn’t get my email?! Let me just send that again.
What you mean: Holy Sh#t! I forgot to send that email!!

We’ve all experienced that feeling in the put of your stomach when you realise you’ve not sent an email. Or worse still, when you made the effort to sit and write the email, only to discover it sitting patiently waiting in your drafts.

What you say: You always get top priority, buddy!
What you mean: You definitely get top priority, right after our other good clients

Speaking from experience, you need to get rid of these clients. If you’re frowning when you have to work on a certain customer’s job, you’re just working for the money. Like it or not, you’re nothing more than a dirty, graphic hooker. So it’s time to elevate your game Julia Roberts style and find yourself a handful of good clients. Clients who you enjoy working for. Let’s call them your Richard Gear clients. And, once you’ve found them, you won’t have to accept other jobs on the side.

What you say: So, the finished product took a little longer than expected.
What you mean: All of your fricking changes, and revisions, and indecision made this project 10 times more expensive than it should have been.

Scope creep kills designers. So, when you put together a quote, make sure you specify that it includes three rounds of revisions and no more. This will ensure the client is a lot more mindful of the changes they’re asking you to make. Otherwise the list can (and probably will) be endless.

What you say: Whenever you get the chance to pay that invoice, that’s cool, no rush
What you mean: Damit, I need that money NOW! My rent is overdue, my water is gonna be shut off and I’ve got no electricity.

There are so, so, so many more examples. And they’re all relatable, because we’ve all said this stuff early on in our careers. We all strive for that awesome client that shows respect, understands boundaries, and doesn’t take advantage of you. And the good news is, when you find those clients, you don’t need to drop things like this anymore aside from the email one, we’re all guilty of that. Instead of lying to please the client, you can be honest. Sometimes brutally so.

Our advice? Say what you mean, mean what you say life is so much less stressful when you don’t have to worry about being caught in a lie!

Head over to our podcast to hear more about sh#t designers say to their clients.

Graphic Design is a marathon, not a sprint. Join us on this journey.

While we're still working on our email game, we do want to remind you that by signing up, you agree to receive emails from this design podcast. Stay Angry!

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Related Posts

Maximalism Unleashed: Breaking Boundaries in Graphic Design

Over the past decade, Graphic Design has brought branding to a boring (or simple) standstill. The oversimplification of brands (or blanding) has left Graphic Designers feeling a sense of creative starvation. While design norms have traditionally believed Less is More, there is a new resurgence of opinion that More is More! And that design style…

View More

Design like Water – Graphic Design Lessons from Bruce Lee

When you think of Bruce Lee, you probably picture high-flying kicks, lightning-fast punches, and an undeniable, badass charisma. What you might not know is that his deep-rooted philosophies, which shaped his approach to martial arts, have surprising parallels with the world of graphic design. That’s right, the legendary martial artist’s wisdom transcends the dojo and…

View More