Difficult client types, an artist’s rendition

Remember that time we showed you the email chain between artist David Thorne and his “IOU client”? Well, he’s not the only one who’s taken the “laugh the pain away” approach to dealing with unreasonable clients.

In an article from Bored Panda, artist Emmie Tsumura took it upon herself to put faces to the crazy (and real!) quotes fellow artist Ryan Estrada‘s has posted in his ongoing Twitter campaign of sorts: “For Exposure“. We pulled out a few of our favorites and added some commentary for both clients and designers to expand upon why these requests are so not okay. If you’re a designer reading this, these explanations may be obvious, but if you’re a client reading these, hopefully this will help you understand better from a designer’s perspective – if you didn’t already think these requests were absurd.


All artists are “real artists”, regardless of your preferences in art mediums. However, if you prefer “real artists…who paint on real canvases” ask your designer if they can create a piece on canvas and render it into a digital version – similar to how Emmie has chosen to draw these images! But, never tell the designer how they should go about doing this – they don’t tell you how to do your job. In addition, one of the golden rules of all types of work is: you get what you pay for.” If you want to pay $100 for a logo, you’re running the risk of getting a crappy logo. If the designer is offering that price, they’re undervaluing themselves – do not take advantage of that.


Where do we even begin? If you want to create your own business cards, go to Vistaprint. Otherwise, expect to pay for consulting fees from the designer since teaching your employees how to do their job is consulting.


While they may have “consistent income”, that doesn’t negate the fact they expect to get paid for their side hustle/work in general. In addition, the perfect applicant should not be determined by their pay, it should always be determined by their skill set, just as you would expect for an applicant applying for a non-artistic position. As a commenter of the Board Panda article alluded to: this isn’t volunteer work (unless it is).


Designers: run. Fast. Clients: from an optimist’s perspective, it can be a hopeful feeling to think that your project is going to be so successful that it will pay for itself automatically once launched. This is not always the case and this is a situation where you’ll need to come down from your Entrepreneur Cloud of Optimism (every entrepreneur has one). If you can’t pay for the overhead costs upfront, go back to the drawing board to brainstorm fundraising options. As a savvy commenter mentioned: “You can’t promise construction workers that they’ll get paid once the tower is done.” With design, it is the same.


Long story, short: artists should not be treated any differently than lawyers or secretaries or marketers, etc. Meaning: they are not worth less, so pay them appropriately as you would any other position. However, if you’re low-balling your other employees/contractors, that’s a bigger issue. And for designers: do not undervalue yourself. If you’re a good artist, price your work accordingly. If consulting is not in the design scope, price it separately. Yes, that’s something you can do and there are people who believe your time is valuable enough to pay for at an additional cost. Teachers don’t work for free (at least not completely). Pro Tip: when you’re contracting, try to work with the Creative lead or another manager who is creatively minded. If that person is not available to you, manage expectations from the beginning before any work begins. And, for all parties involved: get it in writing and email everyone involved a copy.


Happy Designing!

Emmie Tsumura: Instagram | Twitter

Ryan Estrada: Website (where you can find all of his social mediums)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s