11 dumb things clients say to graphic designers?



We’ve all had frustrating design requests from equally frustrating clients, so I figured I would compile a list of the silliest requests I have received. In my next post, I’ll do the same for photography. If you are a potential future client, please take note. If you are a designer, please share some of your out-of-this-world client requests.

I’ll pay you when the company makes money if you do the logo for me now.
How about you pay me now and we will watch your company grow together.

Just do it for me for free, you can put it on your portfolio.
My portfolio doesn’t work as a credit card, otherwise I’d be driving a Ferrari that’s pimped up like a 70’s Cadillac pimp car

You don’t need a brief, I know you’re good.
Why thank you, but please note I do charge by the hour.

I did art in high school, I know what I’m doing.
High school, wow. Can I be your friend?

I’d like to sit with you throughout the design process, just so we get it right the first time.
Ummm no.

Can you design this in 30 minutes? I have a presentation later.
Can you come back yesterday and I’ll have it ready in 30 minutes.

Make the samples first then I’ll decide form there if I like them and will pay then.
Cool, let me borrow you car quickly to go pick up my leprichaun cousin in Hillbrow.

Just grab the logo from the website or letterhead.


Please design this in PowerPoint.
Sure, please pass me those two stones so I can rub them together to light this cigarette.

I want this logo to have a waterfall, flowers a picture of a guy embracing life and every other dumb idea I know.
Usually I just do what they ask for. This kind of person is a lost cause.

I know your mom, so I’m sure you can do this for me for free.
I know you mom and you really have to pay double.

Please share your client horror stories too. Tell us and we will cry together.


Creative Director. Founder of The SA Creatives. Designer, fine artist, writer, photographer & idea hunter. Arch enemy of Powerpoint. @artwelln


  • Reply November 8, 2011

    Leigh Andrews

    Having worked in an ad production department, I can think of quite a few more … most are to do with unreasonable deadlines. “Can’t you scan it in?” Um, no.

  • Reply November 8, 2011

    des mccrystall

    Hi there, my favourite dumb response to asking a client about what they like, in design terms, they say, I don’t know…. but I do know what i don’t like. Grrrr!

    I wonder does this ethos apply to the rest of their life. Perhaps they go into a restaurant and scan the menu for the food they won’t eat.

    I’ll bet they were the type of child that rejected all the toys in the toy box just to play with the box.


  • Reply November 8, 2011


    I did art in high school, I know what I’m doing.

    Having heard similar quotes my answer would be on the order of:
    “I took biology in high school, can I remove your appendix?”

    • Reply November 9, 2011


      Ha ha ha ha ha. Brilliant !

  • Reply November 9, 2011


    Oooooh yes! I’ve had ALL of these before. The one that really kills me is “You have complete creative freedom”. Then when you present you idea they say “It wasn’t quite what I had in mind” – Mmmmmm (like Marge Simpson).

    • Reply December 6, 2011


      Wow did I only get that a lot!!! Its my worst! By the end of it they have changed everything and might as well have given you a brief!!!!

    • Reply July 21, 2014


      I have gotten so many grey hairs as a result of that. Its such a waste of everyone’s time. That is where things get messy because you then try to adapt your idea to what they “had in mind” and often you have to star from scratch!

  • Reply November 9, 2011


    I think Oatmeal really got it right. I once did a website which became a nightmare. I gave her some designs and then she took my design and ‘tweaked’ it in powerpoint. It was horrible. The logo she provided was low res, she wanted a picture of a horse behind her text (I managed after countless emails to get her to at least watermark it so that you could read some of the text), it was a design disaster. Eventual I caved and gave her want she wanted.

    A month later, I couldn’t handle it anymore so I went back to her and offered to redo the website for free if she would just let me do it the proper way. She accepted, I made some new designs and choose one. Then she had one change. Then another. She slept on it and had a few more. Eventually it ended up just as crap as the first time.

    I did manage to put my foot down and stop her, but it was a lesson well learnt on my side.

  • Reply November 9, 2011

    Robin Opperman

    These so hit the spot. My best is when people come to you with images of other peoples work off the net, and they say, ‘these are a few ideas I have had, can you make these?’ I rest my case, and thanks for the brilliant list.

  • Reply November 11, 2011


    (looking at a still photo) “Can’t you just turn her a little bit so we can see more of her face?”

    “Well, you see, that’s a 2-D image…”

    “Yes but can you do it?”

    “Turn the photo over, is her back on there?”


  • Reply November 14, 2011


    There have been SO many strange client requests, but one particular example really left an impression:
    Client requested his new logo had a ROCK in it… well, after literally hundreds of different ideas, we told the client to please look elsewhere for his ROCK.

  • Reply January 16, 2012


    Client: “Please design my logo in RGB Pantone. None of this DKNY nonsence.”

    Me: “Sure, which flavour?”

    • Reply January 17, 2012


      Ha ha ha ha. DKNY

  • Reply May 4, 2012


    The four words that make my face twitch “Can you just quickly…” AAAAAAARRRG!

    • Reply May 4, 2012


      So true Natalie

  • Reply July 11, 2012


    Client: “Put the logo on top, I used to run a flower shop, I know what I’m doing”.

    Me: ” uh……. ok.’


    Client: “hmmmm. SO what do YOU think?

    Me: “It’s effing fantastic, make it a full page ad”.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    SA Creatives

    Or make it “Pop”

  • Reply June 6, 2013

    Edwin Soobramoney

    I think the most irritating one of all has to be…
    “Make the logo bigger”

  • Reply June 11, 2013


    I got asked to create a logo for a company once, (my best friends mom to be exact). I did the logo, with 4/5 different options and sent them to her. She came back the following day, saying they didn’t like any of them, but thanks for the effort.

    I sent an invoice for my time and she came back with, “but we not using any of them, so we don’t have to pay. I stared blankly at my computer screen for days.

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