Really babe, you're using Arial?
February 27, 2014 5:38 AM   Subscribe

 
But that Helvetica documentary was awesome it really is worth watching
posted by ook at 5:43 AM on February 27, 2014 [16 favorites]


Um, this list sounds more like "Dating an asshole." DTMFA, Tayla.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:49 AM on February 27, 2014 [22 favorites]


Ahahaha. I'd change a few things around to make it more specific to my type of designing but yes. I suddenly pity my partner. Uhm.. sorry?
posted by kariebookish at 5:57 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


My boat featured (briefly) in that Helvatica documentary. I was very excited by this.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:11 AM on February 27, 2014


I'm really hard to shop for, does that make me a designah?
posted by oceanjesse at 6:12 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Forget mixing your Mexicali rug with a French provincial coffee table, it’s just not going to happen. It goes against the theme, babe.

In addition to being a bad partner, this person also sounds like a shitty designer. Geeking out over the latest iOS home screen? fucking yawn.
posted by bleep at 6:14 AM on February 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


If my online experience with designers is anything like dating them, then I would have to understand how picky, un-trained clients with lots of demands are basically Nazis set out to ruin the internet with their tackiness.
posted by Think_Long at 6:15 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dumb custom cards that people will look at forty seconds before deciding if I'm worth a wedding gift and throwing it away doesn't compensate for living with judgy mcpretension.

Although the helvetica documentary is great.
posted by winna at 6:16 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


You may think it will be fun to re-decorate your living room with the help of your designer partner, but you’re wrong. It’s not fun.

On top of my other duties, I am a production artist, as well as an occasional designer and I live with a museum person & fine arts major. The teeth gnashing required to just MOVE A PICTURE is so not worth it that we haven't re-arranged our living room except to make room for the Christmas tree in over 10 years. We have this uneasy, unspoken MAD-type detente which indicates that things can just be left alone & no one will get hurt.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:18 AM on February 27, 2014 [18 favorites]


Devils Rancher: I must admit that your post makes me want to break into your home, rearrange furniture, then leave. I won't ever do it of course, but feel free to use me as an excuse if you ever really need something to be somewhere else.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:26 AM on February 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ugh, it sounds more like dating a designer who is in love with the identity status of being a designer.
posted by fontophilic at 6:27 AM on February 27, 2014 [15 favorites]


Office hours? If these designers have any actual clients, other than their headspace ones, I'll bet the clients have office hours.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:29 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ditch Microsoft Word. And Publisher. And PowerPoint.

So they're cool with me using LaTeX and leaving everything but everything set on the defaults?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:35 AM on February 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


Computer Modern should be enough typeface for anyone!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:36 AM on February 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


I went on two dates with a designer. He was easily the best looking and most well dressed dude I've ever dated.

On our first date he asked me, "ok, define your personal aesthetic in 20 words or less."

What.

Also he was really bad in bed.

That is my experience dating a designer.
posted by phunniemee at 6:39 AM on February 27, 2014 [18 favorites]


I must admit that your post makes me want to break into your home, rearrange furniture, then leave.

"Officer! Officer! He... rearranged my paintings!! There's modern art on the same wall with... landscapes... and the books, my god the books... Photography and literature are.. touching each other! It was... I just.... *sob*..."
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:41 AM on February 27, 2014 [13 favorites]


Or, How to Settle for Someone Who Wastes Life on Unimportant Details...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:42 AM on February 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


Dating a MeFi: 10 things you need to know.
1) Ability to get enraged at imaginary people that exist in a listicle.
posted by FreezBoy at 6:43 AM on February 27, 2014 [30 favorites]


I must admit that your post makes me want to break into your home, rearrange furniture, then leave.

It's not well known, but, before Kung Fu was picked up, the creators were shopping around a project called Feng Shui, the story of two brothers trained in geomancy. The evil brother sneaks into innocent people's homes in small-town America and messes up their lives by subtly rearranging their furniture. The good brother (both brothers played by Lee Van Cleef) has to work out what is wrong, fix the interior design, and help people out with some good old-fashioned common sense and wise maxims.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:49 AM on February 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


Dating a MeFi: 10 things you need to know.
1) Ability to get enraged at imaginary people that exist in a listicle.


Flagged!
posted by leotrotsky at 6:50 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


before Kung Fu was picked up, the creators were shopping around a project called Feng Shui,

Snatch the calligraphy brush from my hand, grasshopper.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:53 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm less than a semester away from a Master's degree in design, and people pay me money to design things, and yet I'm loath to call myself a designer. The word just sounds so pretentious.

I prefer to be called a "layout man."
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:55 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I prefer to be called a "layout man."

Alignmensch.
posted by Shepherd at 6:57 AM on February 27, 2014 [16 favorites]


Suggesting that designers "speak another language, called Adobe" makes about as much sense as suggesting that novelists write in a language called Times New Roman.
posted by oulipian at 7:02 AM on February 27, 2014 [13 favorites]


My first date with a certain guy back in the 80s - he takes me to a Chinese Bar Restaurant near Times Square decorated in a turquoise and gold chinoiserie theme that probably date from the 40s. He is impossibly stylish. At he bar he turns to me and says, "You have no idea what it's like growing up with an Art Director for a father."

We are still friends.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:04 AM on February 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


I have a friend who just married an architect who specializes in renovating interior spaces. His husband is a lovely man, pleasant to talk to and very funny, but I understand repainting the dining room took something like six weeks longer than planned, and, even then, there were muttered complaints that the color was not quite right.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:09 AM on February 27, 2014


Suggesting that designers "speak another language, called Adobe" makes about as much sense as suggesting that novelists write in a language called Times New Roman.

1. Using the Adobe suite of apps has caused a whole new dialect of cussing.

2. You don't really used Times New Roman to write do you?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:09 AM on February 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


At some point [collective] we started fetishizing the tools and elements of graphic design for their own sake, and we end up with these wink wink you're in the club too lists and blogs, and it makes me cringe. Do architects do this too? Electricians? Tool and diemakers?
posted by Sreiny at 7:31 AM on February 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


From the comment thread:
I sent this to my pregnant wife to check how true it rang with her, and got this back:

“Ha! All apart from the interior design aspects!

It forgets to mention that any scrap of paper you leave out will be immediately covered in doodles before it hits the table

An unhealthy obsession with pens – of all types

The amount of time it takes to write and decorate birthday/Christmas cards

The amount of time it takes to choose wrapping paper – and then wrap with that paper – ensuring full pattern alignment on all sides of the gift.

The inexplicable rules that surround the composition of shopping lists

Endless boxes of wires/mouse’s/memory keys."
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:34 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sucks to be a graphic designer who's forced to use Word and Arial almost exclusively due to company standards :(
posted by polywomp at 7:45 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Apparently, just because you're spending your day formatting images for a diaper-recycling startup doesn't mean you can't have delusions of grandeur.

I always thought programmers were the biggest cargo cultists of this modern age, but then I met designers (and it just gets worse if you prefix "web" to either of them).
posted by pseudocode at 8:01 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Ugh, it sounds more like dating a designer who is in love with the identity status of being a designer."

Would that I had more than one favorite to give this.
I've been a designer for nearly two decades now and an AD for the lion's share of that time. In that time I've hired, I've fired, I've trained, I've worked with, Pint Night-ed with, and I've interviewed more crappy designers than I could ever count. And for some reason it's always the ones so breathlessly in love with all the superficial identity aspects of being "a designer" (you know the cliche: the black clothes, the thick black glasses, unable to talk about themselves in any other context than their profession, etc) that always seemed to make the most pedestrian, and in some cases terrible work. Often there was no blood in their design, no sense of wit or personality, just an endless cycle of trends repeating. I can't help but think it was due to them choosing design as some sort of lifestyle decision. I'll take a schlubby dude that produces fantastic deliverables over a "design is the communication engine that changes the world!" type any day of the week. Regardless of how cute their Ampersand tee shirt is.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:06 AM on February 27, 2014 [22 favorites]


From the comments:
You missed a big one; designers notice every detail
I can't tell who this is a burn on.
posted by postcommunism at 8:12 AM on February 27, 2014


i would like to clarify that i am an architect and it only took 2 years to paint our walls not because the right color could not be found but because of sheer laziness. finishes and furniture is the part of my job i like least, and i'm thankful there are other people on staff (designers!) that are more than happy to quibble about those details.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 8:14 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I suppose I'm a designer given that my masters degree is in 'environmental design'. Went to school with a lot of architects. I cringe when someone refers to themselves as a 'designer' as in the post. Any true geek would parse the designer type.

Nevertheless, other than my physiotherapist (Eames? Who?) wife needing design approval on changes to furniture and art around the house, I pretty much just want to be left alone to go fishing.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:19 AM on February 27, 2014


I know a guy who literally does art/music for a living who uses Comic Sans in his contracts because of how much borrowed 'outrage' there is surrounding it.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:29 AM on February 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


At some point [collective] we started fetishizing the tools and elements of graphic design for their own sake, and we end up with these wink wink you're in the club too lists and blogs, and it makes me cringe. Do architects do this too? Electricians? Tool and diemakers?

I've always assumed this happens because designers are sitting in front of their computers anyway. They live on the internet as a medium. Other trades are too busy fitting pipes or running wire to stop and put up a list.

It's just a function of people having ready access to an audience.
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:31 AM on February 27, 2014


MetaFilter: woken at 12 am by cold computer hands
posted by furtive at 8:34 AM on February 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


How come articles that are lists are called listicles, but articles that are quizzes aren't called testicles?

Seriously, I'm asking.
posted by davejay at 8:36 AM on February 27, 2014 [19 favorites]


> It's just a function of people having ready access to an audience.

I think it's a function of 'creative' becoming a noun. An exciting business noun you can be.
posted by postcommunism at 8:36 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


At some point [collective] we started fetishizing the tools and elements of graphic design for their own sake, and we end up with these wink wink you're in the club too lists and blogs, and it makes me cringe. Do architects do this too? Electricians? Tool and diemakers?

I doubt that architects, electricians and tool and die makers are plagued by a sneaking suspicion that what they do isn't actually important.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:40 AM on February 27, 2014 [13 favorites]


When I was in high school my life goal was to become an artist. I was already painting large pieces and getting into a few local gallery shows and all that. And of course, I was 16/17 so you can imagine how much fantastic pretension flowed forth from me every time I spoke.
One night at some opening somewhere, an older more accomplished artist told me something I'll never forget. He said, "don't say you're an 'artist.' If you paint, say you're a painter, if you sculpt say you're a sculptor. People that say that they are artists wanna be seen as something rather than doing the work of being that thing."
Now, I don't know that I would agree with what he said in every instance and I'm not sure I'd apply it to everyone, but it stuck with me for over 20 years and has remained a valuable ego check whenever I find myself overstating what it is that I am and I do in my mind.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:40 AM on February 27, 2014 [17 favorites]


for some reason it's always the ones so breathlessly in love with all the superficial identity aspects of being "a designer" (you know the cliche: the black clothes, the thick black glasses, unable to talk about themselves in any other context than their profession, etc) that always seemed to make the most pedestrian

A propos: I always find it instructive to look at photos of the interior of the Eames House. Which is, of course, beautiful and harmonious, but is also eclectic, busy,and utterly unafraid of idiosyncrasy. The notion that you would have a "theme" that would rule out the inclusion of some art work or object that you otherwise admired would, clearly, have struck them as laughably pedestrian and self-constraining.

I think the really great designer is the one who can create a context in which all kinds of accidental happenstance can flourish without destroying the central organizing concept behind the design. The kind of design that is destroyed by a single out-of-place object is the product of a pretty narrow and inhuman approach.
posted by yoink at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2014 [8 favorites]


10 Things You Should Know About Dating The MoMA Gift Shop
posted by zbsachs at 8:56 AM on February 27, 2014 [15 favorites]


Today I spent an hour on skype with a metadesigner, a professor emeritus, and that's a title I could like far more than this pretentious listicle (yes, all the best comments have already been taken in the thread.)

metadesigner: we rearrange your plate of beans
posted by infini at 8:57 AM on February 27, 2014


but is also eclectic, busy,and utterly unafraid of idiosyncrasy.

Mid-century is undoubtedly warmer, but this example is really less about the style and more about taste. Having said that, I grew up in a house that looked quite like that and it's really informed my own preferences. A house needs to be lived in, and if you surround yourself with high quality things, a bit of clutter doesn't really equate to being surrounded by junk.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:58 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm a graphic designer. My wife is an interior designer. We've been talking about renovating the kitchen for three years. She's still working on materials board. We managed to finally pick appliances. They've been in the garage for a year.
posted by misterpatrick at 9:03 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


I know a guy who literally does art/music for a living who uses Comic Sans in his contracts because of how much borrowed 'outrage' there is surrounding it.

normfont
posted by maudlin at 9:10 AM on February 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


...you’d be hard pressed to find a designer willing to hand in something sub-par just to make it home in time for Survivor

This person has obviously not worked in the industry for more than a few months.
posted by jnnla at 9:11 AM on February 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


The sneaking curse of a design education, formal or not, is the ubiquitous critical eye. Very few things in the real world are actually good if you look at them long enough. Compromises can be made in the name of budget, being home for Survivor, or your partner really hates that thing you love, but to be a designer successful at design means you have to be critical until the thing is right.

So much of the groupthink of design is about people who notice the Good Things in the world pointing and waving at each other, because often it feels like there are a dozen of us against the other seven billion. That underdog attitude breeds dense in-jokes just as much as it cultivates that saccharine cool image that is so easy to lampoon.

Every time I hear "can we make the logo bigger" or "I want this to be like Nike", it's like being in a modern art museum and hearing "herp derp my kid coulda painted that."
posted by a halcyon day at 9:30 AM on February 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


Further thoughts on the image front: it's easy for a designer's response to "hey, those are cool jeans" to be "I KNOW, THEY ARE THE BEST JEANS" because hey, they probably are. And within the in-group, that's an acknowledgement of you've done your homework and you've made an informed choice that looks good. But to outsiders it just feels like "yeah, what of it, I'm a DESIGNER, bro."

There are nuanced differences between the people who have all-white, matching-brand kitchenware even though they rarely cook, and the people with the old tool chest stuffed with whatever gets the job done.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:41 AM on February 27, 2014


Really babe, you're using Arial?


Of course not, dear. This is Century Gothic.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:43 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Half of these sound awful and half of these sound like me.


I am not denying there may be some overlap.



The author of this article also seems to think 12 AM is late. How droll.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:50 AM on February 27, 2014


So much of the groupthink of design is about people who notice the Good Things in the world pointing and waving at each other, because often it feels like there are a dozen of us against the other seven billion.

It seems like you don't really understand how patronizing, condescending and pretentious that comes across as. There are no Platonic Good Things.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:54 AM on February 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


"mouse's" ?
posted by petebest at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2014


There are nuanced differences between the people who have all-white, matching-brand kitchenware even though they rarely cook, and the people with the old tool chest stuffed with whatever gets the job done.

So, I owned a fuschia pink ASUS Zenbook, because [insert bunch of reasons including love at first sight for the CMF & I hate iOS & need a PC] - gorgeous eyeturner she was, but the world's worst keyboard for a touch typist. This time I didn't do the electronics shopping and the only criteria I gave was that the keyboard had to be one that I could make sing. I received a laptop that not only came in almost exactly within budget and is the workhorse I need but the keyboard won its own design award. Boy can taht baby sing when I'm letting the words fly...

the listicle experience changes when you have two design/engineers geeking out, did I show the surge protector I got for xmas? It'll protect me from lighting strikes apparently
posted by infini at 10:08 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


> "Every time I hear 'can we make the logo bigger' or 'I want this to be like Nike', it's like being in a modern art museum and hearing 'herp derp my kid coulda painted that.'"

Serious question - every single time, and I mean literally every single time, I have seen one of the many posts or webpages or lists in which designers bitterly complain about the requests their customers make, it has been divided almost exactly 50/50 between requests that are actually stupid, vague, or derivative (e.g., "I want this to be like Nike", "Can we make it jazzier somehow?", "This red just doesn't say 'red' to me"), and requests that seem perfectly normal, ordinary, and reasonable (e.g., "Can we make the logo bigger?", "I'd like the background to be a darker shade of blue," "Make the text larger and center it".)

Why is that?
posted by kyrademon at 10:29 AM on February 27, 2014


nd requests that seem perfectly normal, ordinary, and reasonable (e.g., "Can we make the logo bigger?", "I'd like the background to be a darker shade of blue," "Make the text larger and center it".)

Those are not necessarily ordinary and reasonable requests. They are perfectly normal though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:31 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


choosing design as some sort of lifestyle decision.

Yes! I've been trying to articulate my discomfort with the cult-like nature of graphic design, and yours comes the closest to doing this.


sneaking suspicion that what they do isn't actually important.

Also this.
posted by Sreiny at 10:34 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Make the logo bigger" is kind of a joke about how non-designers try to employ strategies from their non-design area of expertise when instructing designers about how to do their jobs.
posted by bleep at 10:39 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Make the logo bigger" is kind of a joke about how non-designers try to employ strategies from their non-design area of expertise when instructing designers about how to do their jobs.

But...surely even a non-designer can have a valid opinion about whether the logo on a given item is too small or too big, no? I mean, let us say that you're given a sample layout and the logo is so small as to be unreadable without a magnifying glass. How are you supposed to say that this doesn't really work without offending the designer's precious sensibilities?
posted by yoink at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Serious question - every single time, and I mean literally every single time, I have seen one of the many posts or webpages or lists in which designers bitterly complain about the requests their customers make, it has been divided almost exactly 50/50 between requests that are actually stupid, vague, or derivative (e.g., "I want this to be like Nike", "Can we make it jazzier somehow?", "This red just doesn't say 'red' to me"), and requests that seem perfectly normal, ordinary, and reasonable (e.g., "Can we make the logo bigger?", "I'd like the background to be a darker shade of blue," "Make the text larger and center it".)

Why is that?


The thing is, design is a skilled trade much like any other. Most people don't try to micro-manage their electrician or their accountant. One might say that design is different because everyone has eyes and is entitled to their own opinion and personal aesthetic. Which is true. But the problem is that most non-designers don't have the ability to offer constructive criticism when it comes to design. Their opinion about what shade of blue the background should be probably isn't helpful, and isn't going to improve things.

Put it this way: I have an opinion about how I want my hair to look when I get it cut, but I don't try to offer suggestions to my barber while he's cutting it. I let him do his thing and ultimately I'm happier for it.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 10:59 AM on February 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


But...surely even a non-designer can have a valid opinion about whether the logo on a given item is too small or too big, no? I mean, let us say that you're given a sample layout and the logo is so small as to be unreadable without a magnifying glass. How are you supposed to say that this doesn't really work without offending the designer's precious sensibilities?

That would be a good indication that the designer is incompetent and you should find a new one.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 11:00 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


How are you supposed to say that this doesn't really work without offending the designer's precious sensibilities?

First, you have to think of them as a partner in what you're trying to do, rather than prima donnas to scorn.

As a client you talk about what you want to do and what you want to communicate with a particular ad/brochsure/whatever. Ideally one would point out that the logo seems small and listen if the designer says the size of the logo conflicts with the headline that's communicating that a sale is going on. It's a back and forth and ultimately the client absolutely has final say. But hopefully a client doesn't scoff at what the designer brings to the table in experience and knowledge.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:01 AM on February 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


Steely-eyed Missile Man, you're correct: there are no real things that are absolutely good. What we have instead is a spectrum from frustratingly useless, through passable, satisfactory, and ultimately ending in excellent. Part of what designers do is attempt to elevate the things they create for clients along that spectrum, because through training and experience, designers are attuned to factors that contribute to that process. That is to say, there are Things, and there are Better Things.

It doesn't take a lot of awareness to look at the world and identify things produced without thought to aesthetics or function, or those produced with just enough knowledge to be dangerous— think WordArt 3D. It also doesn't take a lot of awareness to recognize a thing that is really good at what it does, like OXO kitchenware, though a lot of effort went into recognizing why handles needed to be bigger and changing the product to match.

I think Brandon Blatcher and seymourScagnetti have a good handle on the "make the logo bigger" situation.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:03 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Most people don't try to micro-manage their electrician

Well, sure--but you can tell them "I'd like the outlet on this wall and not that wall" without them rolling their eyes and writing a blog entry about the nightmare of dealing with customers who just. don't. get. it.

That would be a good indication that the designer is incompetent and you should find a new one.


But where's the cut-off point between "this is so obviously incompetent I'm allowed to have an opinion about it" and "I don't personally find this satisfying but it's not clearly grossly incompetent, and therefore I'm not allowed to express an opinion and must defer to the designer's all-knowing wisdom"?
posted by yoink at 11:03 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I used to work with graphic designers and have friends in the field. Some other things touched on in the lead article (or not):

* unholy worship of all things Apple
* disowning design work on giant button remote controls
* distancing oneself from "design work" done by other parts (e.g. non-designers) of the corporation
* trying to pivot into user experience/interaction design with minimal background, because that's where the money is
* giant collection of Taschen books
* hating 3D because of what happens to brightness and color
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:07 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, sure--but you can tell them "I'd like the outlet on this wall and not that wall" without them rolling their eyes and writing a blog entry about the nightmare of dealing with customers who just. don't. get. it.

1. That's not what I read about in most design blogs.
2. If you're saying there's no blogs by electricians that note problematic situations with clients, I'm going to be doubtful.


But where's the cut-off point between "this is so obviously incompetent I'm allowed to have an opinion about it" and "I don't personally find this satisfying but it's not clearly grossly incompetent, and therefore I'm not allowed to express an opinion and must defer to the designer's all-knowing wisdom"?

If a client chooses to go with what the designers says, I would hope they're measuring the response from that choice. I.e. "This ad got x number of responses where as this ad got a different number." At that point they can decide whether the designer's choice helped with the overall goal or not.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:11 AM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


yoink, what you're describing with the electrician analogy can be solved by communication: "I'd like to use a blender on this part of the counter instead, so let's put the outlet here." The electrician may be limited by a structural issue, or a building code requirement, but beyond that as a service professional it's her/his job to satisfy the client. The best way to do that is to have an open dialogue about client needs.

Often the client's desire to make the logo bigger is because the client believes that a bigger logo will be more easily recognized, or remembered, which isn't always true. It's comparing an unstudied gut feeling against someone who has relevant experience. A client might say 'make the blue darker' but the designer is thinking 'if we go any darker, then it's Adidas, and then it's Gap, and then it's Ralph Lauren'.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:15 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


"must defer to the designer's all-knowing wisdom"

Dont do that. Honestly.
My skillset took at the very least a decade of hard, challenging work to build.
That you don't see what it took for my decision as a professional to be made and all the shoulders that had to stand on to get there doesn't mean you get to hand wave it away as some silly nonsense. I may not identify with the Precious Snowflake Designer mindset I talked about upthread but I still take what I do very seriously.
Your electrician would give you the reason an outlet wouldn't work on that wall and so would a designer, but you wouldn't overrule the electrician's expertise.
You'd do it to a designer simply because you have eyes too.
Well guess what, you have hands too yet you aren't a goalie.

Please disregard if goalie.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:17 AM on February 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


That you don't see what it took for my decision as a professional to be made and all the shoulders that had to stand on to get there doesn't mean you get to hand wave it away as some silly nonsense

You're reading something into my comment that isn't there at all. I'm not saying the designer has no expertise; I'm not saying that every schmo's opinion about matters of design is of equal validity etc. I'm saying that the "durrrr, make the logo bigger!!" thing implies an astonishing contempt on the part of many designers for their clients. The attitude Brandon Blatcher describes above seems absolutely admirable; one in which the client's opinions and responses are taken seriously and seen as a vital part of the conversation that leads to good design. Designers who think of the client simply as an annoying idiot who gets in the way of their pure platonic conception tend to produce poor design. Design that works in the real world is design that has responded to more than the question "will this look really cool in my portfolio?"
posted by yoink at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


The astonishing contempt doesn't just spring up out of nowhere, it's built up over time based on learned experience.
posted by bleep at 11:28 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe you're not aware to the extent to which designers are treated like shit by non-design clients.
posted by bleep at 11:28 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Designers who think of the client simply as an annoying idiot who gets in the way of their pure platonic conception tend to produce poor design. Design that works in the real world is design that has responded to more than the question "will this look really cool in my portfolio?"

This is absolutely true. Many inexperienced designers fail to acknowledge that the things they create have a purpose, whether that's communicating an idea, solving a functional problem, or something else. Ultimately most of it arrives at making money somehow. Successful design is design that all people* can respond to and resonate with.


*all people being the target market
posted by a halcyon day at 11:31 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe you're not aware to the extent to which designers are treated like shit by non-design clients.

Designers (here and elsewhere) make it quite impossible to be unaware. They do themselves no favors, however, by implying that simply having an opinion amounts to "treating the designer like shit."
posted by yoink at 11:32 AM on February 27, 2014


They do themselves no favors, however, by implying that simply having an opinion amounts to "treating the designer like shit."

OK look at it this way: one of the ways I get more work is by the work I do. I spend 4 hours creating something that will work, based on years of real market-proven expertise. You disagree for no other reason than you like purple instead of green (this happens) and would like 5 headlines all in the same space competing against each other.
Now you've wasted my time I spent creating something that works, you're wasting more of my time creating something that won't, and I won't even have the work to show for it at the end of the day. On top of that, you are almost certainly going to be a pain in the ass to get a check out of when you do finally pay, probably two months from now. All because you think me branding your business is the same thing as me painting your garage.
And this happens. So. Often. At. Every. Level. Of. Agency.

You'd be a bit miffed too.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:37 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well okay. If you think this whole thing is about having an opinion then I can see you're a joy to work with.
posted by bleep at 11:51 AM on February 27, 2014


furtive: MetaFilter: woken at 12 am by cold computer hands

Incomplete.

MetaFilter: part hours spent sourcing GoT memes and sending you links to puppies falling asleep, part being woken at 12 am by cold computer hands.

(That's why I wear gloves while staying awake on MetaFilter, so my MeFite widow won't be shocked awake when I sneak into bed to snuggle and sleep.)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:58 AM on February 27, 2014


I do everything in Adobe Source Code Pro now.

Really.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:20 PM on February 27, 2014


They do themselves no favors, however, by implying that simply having an opinion amounts to "treating the designer like shit."

Who said that in this thread? You seem to have gotten up on that horse all by yourself. Did you bring a previous negative encounter with someone who does design work into the thread? Sure, there are lots of pompous asses in the world of design, but it's a big world. There are pompous asses everywhere. I Actually know an actual electrician who's a pompous ass, & loved to shout "It'll never work!" when I asked him to bid on something, & treated me like a stupidhead because I obviously didn't know my volts from my amps.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:27 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who said that in this thread?

bleep did.

Everyone gets treated like shit by clients from time to time - graphic designers and plumbers and lawyers and doctors and architects and planners and wait staff...the list goes on. As a professional you really need to surrender yourself to the fact that you're in the service of someone else. You must be objective. You can provide your professional recommendation, but if that is overruled by the client then you must at some point allow yourself to be overruled and not take it personally. A good professional will argue their position, but not become personally invested in that position.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:55 PM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


It was the "for simply having opinions" but that was an odd-misreading that I took issue with. The least-charitable view of what someone said approach to conversation is a real buzzkill around here. We've all had horrid clients, yes. & we all vent steam in one way or another. Electricians & plumbers aren't as likely to have blogs & be as web-centric as the design world, so it seems like they make more noise if you're on the internet, but believe you me, plumbers can bitch about clients a-plenty.

Besides, this whole thing started out as designers poking good-natured fun at themselves. It an odd turn the thread took.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:16 PM on February 27, 2014


surely even a non-designer can have a valid opinion about whether the logo on a given item is too small or too big, no?

This is exactly why this is a running joke. Everybody's got opinions. Every opinion is valid. But not every opinion is the best for whatever's being designed.

So there are three parties involved: the designer, the guy hiring the designer (the client), and the people who will be using whatever is being designed (the user).

The client always wants the logo bigger, because they care about the logo, because it's theirs. The user always wants the logo smaller, because they don't give a shit about logos; they'd rather that space be filled with stuff they do care about.

Clients know and have perfectly informed valid opinions about what they, the client, want. They don't necessarily know what their users want, or that what they want often directly conflicts with what the user wants.

The balancing of these conflicting opinions and needs -- the client's, the users' (often multiple groups of users with differing opinions and needs), and, yes, the designer's -- is a huge part of what designers do. And it's invisible to most non-designers, because they're still stuck on "but I like blue better than purple;" they like what they like and want what they want and can't see past their own personal taste.

Good designers recognize that this is all part of the gig, and that if the client understood what the users needed then they wouldn't have had to hire the designer in the first place, and are able to communicate to the client where the user's needs trump the client's needs, and can articulate specifically how the design they've come up with meets those needs, and are able to come up with designs that minimize the ways in which those various needs conflict. Bad designers bitch about how stupid their clients are and are probably just designing to their own personal taste anyway.
posted by ook at 3:30 PM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Serious question - every single time, and I mean literally every single time, I have seen one of the many posts or webpages or lists in which designers bitterly complain about the requests their customers make, it has been divided almost exactly 50/50 between requests that are actually stupid, vague, or derivative (e.g., "I want this to be like Nike", "Can we make it jazzier somehow?", "This red just doesn't say 'red' to me"), and requests that seem perfectly normal, ordinary, and reasonable (e.g., "Can we make the logo bigger?", "I'd like the background to be a darker shade of blue," "Make the text larger and center it".)

Why is that?
"

I'm not a designer, but I've worked with a bunch both on magazines and in my current role of basically running a coms department. It's often been my job to be the go-between for other departments or advertisers or clients and the designer, and the couple things that I experience over and over again, beyond the vague, stupid and derivative, are 1) not understanding the work of designers, and 2) not understanding what they're asking for versus what they want, and a combination of the two.

So, for example, today we got a request from a legislator that we're working with on a bill, where they wanted a birth certificate modified to reflect the changes their law would effect. Just a couple extra check boxes, no big deal, right? Well, except that the actual design would mean finding the background images and the filigree borders, redesigning all of the text layout to include the new boxes, and outputting an image that could be printed at the size they wanted. They thought that adding two checkboxes would be about ten minutes worth of work, rather than probably about four to five hours to do it right. So, clients often ask for changes that are conceptually very simple but pretty complex to execute properly.

The other thing recent example is from a law firm who wanted us to take a screenshot of their logo from a Word document, then rearrange the elements inside of it to move the partners' names to be horizontal from the current vertical. Which means that they were pretty much asking for a new, redesigned logo or something hideous and half-assed.

Even down to something like text, people don't realize how long it takes to really do text well, including the fonts, layout, kerning, leading, etc. Like, why I made sure we hired a designer is because I have a pretty good idea of how long it takes me to do that stuff versus how long it takes a specialist to do it — I can get a lot of it done, but it takes three times as long to get everything perfect, because I can't usually spot what the problems are immediately during the process; I have to guess and check (or, when pitching the designer budget, I have to "iterate them out").

So a lot of the things that designers complain about with otherwise legit-looking suggestions/changes are really a pain in the ass to actually do, or won't accomplish what the client thinks they will.

Also, some designers are just assholes.
posted by klangklangston at 4:20 PM on February 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ultimately most of it arrives at making money somehow. Successful design is design that all people* can respond to and resonate with.


*all people being the target market


Alice Rawsthorn tweeted that John Heskett (Toothpicks & Logos, History of Industrial Design) passed away. He used to say,

An invention is not an innovation unless its been adopted by the users.

A clear example is the Segway which never disrupted the market like the iPod did.

And its this thinking side of design that's usually ignored by puff pieces like these or this segment of designa crowd/audience
posted by infini at 10:57 PM on February 27, 2014


Their opinion about what shade of blue the background should be probably isn't helpful, and isn't going to improve things.

Except that at the end of the day it is going to improve things because in this case what designers ultimately create is the commodity of a finished image (or image sequence, or layout etc) that the client pays for, and if the client wants it some way that happens not to jive with all the current design trends showing up on ffffound - then tough luck.

The tension between clients and designers lies in the sense that clients do tend to overstep their bounds and designers do tend to overestimate their roles. Designers don't like to think of themselves simply as cursors to be manipulated by clients words...but really that's kind of what they are a lot of the time.

The most insufferable designers at my work are the ones who think everything they make is art and that everything they do has to include their visionary stamp. Sorry. Do this long enough and what you do is a fucking job. End of story. On some jobs you literally are a cursor. You make the image just the way the client wants and the company gets paid and gets a satisfied repeat customer so you can all go home and watch Survivor.

Most designers really do need to let go, step back and just relax. So much unnecessary time and energy go into fiddling with kerning and color and all this insider shit that really could have been let go at version two because the client doesn't fucking notice. Nor do the general public.

That all being said, taking a step back is easier to do if you begin to understand clients not as adults with whom to do business, but as actual large 5 year old children. Because most of their requests and expectations function just like those from children who have not yet learned to self-soothe or even go to the bathroom correctly.

In short, what most designers do doesn't actually matter and clients really are pretty terrible a lot of the time.
posted by jnnla at 11:58 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Designers don't like to think of themselves simply as cursors to be manipulated by clients words...but really that's kind of what they are a lot of the time.

What you're describing here is the worst case scenario for everyone -- for the designer, the client, and the end user -- and it's usually a result of both the designer and the client being inexperienced and unprofessional. Situations where the designer is treated like a voice-operated version of Paint Shop Pro, you may as well not have hired a designer and just gone ahead and used Paint Shop Pro. You'll get about the same quality results and save a lot of money and headaches.

Yes, these situations do exist, but basing your opinion of an entire industry on this sort of lowest-common-denominator stuff is kind of like saying all writers need to get off their high horses and churn out another listicle for buzzfeed, or all chefs need to get over themselves and just flip the damn burger already. Your comments betray a clear ignorance of what design even is. Which is a depressingly common attitude.

This is why so many designers get so bitchy in defense of the profession, because it's tiring constantly butting up against people who have zero respect for what you've devoted your life to.
posted by ook at 6:11 AM on February 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


After the fact, I note that in your profile you describe yourself as a designer. I might gently suggest that if this is your opinion of your own profession, you might at the very least want to find a different shop to work in -- they're not all shitty churn factories where you get treated as a glorified cursor.
posted by ook at 6:17 AM on February 28, 2014


Some designers think they are artists. That's my main problem with the whole thing.
posted by ReeMonster at 6:28 AM on February 28, 2014


"Except that at the end of the day it is going to improve things because in this case what designers ultimately create is the commodity of a finished image (or image sequence, or layout etc) that the client pays for, and if the client wants it some way that happens not to jive with all the current design trends showing up on ffffound - then tough luck. "

Yeah, then they do it and bitch about what a fucking moron the client is on their blog, which brings us back to the original question of why designers often bitch about what seem like legitimate requests. They'll often do what the client wants despite thinking that the client is an idiot and what they want is wrong.

"Most designers really do need to let go, step back and just relax. So much unnecessary time and energy go into fiddling with kerning and color and all this insider shit that really could have been let go at version two because the client doesn't fucking notice. Nor do the general public."

Some of the public certainly will. And when something is well-designed, it really does stand out as such. Clients and the public often can't tell what it takes to get to that point, but designers do and that's why you pay them — to design something better than what you could do yourself.

(And the public is more design literate than ever as even mass retailers like Target have started justifying their value through design-added products.)

"Some designers think they are artists. That's my main problem with the whole thing."

Some designers are artists. In fact, many of the designers I've worked with are artists. Our previous (amazing) designer now runs his own letterpress and screenprint shop in Oakland, and while plenty of the shit he makes is goofy, it'd be idiotic to declare that it's not art.
posted by klangklangston at 8:25 AM on February 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Looks like a grid of designers in here.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:53 AM on February 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


« Older Down with this sort of thing   |   Your clever relationship wingman. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments