Clients: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
This week at the Best of Year Awards held at the Guggenheim Museum, some friends and I started chatting about some of our horror stories with clients. I look at the projects I have been able to complete and I am immediately filled with gratitude because I know that without amazing clients, I would not be able to do the work I do.
But, unfortunately, not all clients are created equally, and, in this line of work, every now and then you are bound to work with clients with whom you don’t exactly see eye to eye. Sometimes it’s due to an unreasonable designer and sometimes it’s an unreasonable client.
By far the worst experience I ever had was when I was shooting a completed project on which I had loved working. I had an amazing relationship with both the husband and wife and was thrilled with the way the apartment turned out. The project was complete and while we were shooting the apartment, the wife was out of town. Cindy Allen said that she would love to publish it in Interior Design and had asked me to put some movement in the shots to make them a bit more interesting and the photographer decided that when we shot the shower, we would steam it up. Since she had the best body of everyone at the shoot she would graciously take a shower on the job while her assistant clicked the camera. The photographer had never before met the clients.
The shots turned out beautifully showing a fuzzy outline of a slender silhouette in a steamy shower. I showed the images to the client and did not say much until a couple of days later when I was inundated with hysterical calls asking me how I had dared to take these images of the shower with her husband’s lover in them. After I realized that this woman was clearly not playing with a full deck, I stopped taking her calls which infuriated her even more. A couple days later, while we were having a little dinner party at my apartment, I found my husband and my friend whispering about something and I asked them what was going on. My husband showed me a piece of paper that had been slipped under our door with a photocopied image of her wedding ring on it with instructions to be sure to include an image of the wedding ring when the project was published.
What made me think of this was that I found a website that was full of client horror stories mainly about graphic design and as I was going to bed the other night I sent the link over to my husband who is a graphic designer. He was laughing so hard it was hard for me to fall asleep. At the time when these situations are occurring, it all feels so awful and incredibly stressful, but everyone learns from them and you move on as a better designer and the best part of it is that after some time has passed often you can laugh about it.
Any horror or funny stories to share? And please keep client names anonymous!