Tips about dealing with annoying clients

Hi guys, recently I ran into one of those stereotypical clients that thought they knew much better than any artist who ever lived. They wanted me to screw up my composition to make it look “so much better” and add their own bad designs on top. On top of that while we were negotiating the price, they thought that “getting more exposure” would be a bargaining chip. Right, because I want my name on something that looks silly. Fantastic.

The only thing I could think of to do was take a break, drink some tea, and then come back and reply as politely as possible because I cannot afford to pass up work ATM.

What do you do when you have to handle annoying people?

Do you have any stories of clients being super ridiculous? How did you deal with them?

I feel like this is something I will have to deal with a lot, so I figured I may as well learn from other peoples mistakes/successes. I also hope we can have a good laugh about this stuff, because honestly people can be really dumb sometimes.

Thanks,
Jonathan

I’ve found that if you communicate with them that you have a clear process that you follow. That you will take their suggestions into consideration but that would like the ability to explore a few design options and present those. Don’t make it seem like you’re saying “no we do this my way” … instead make them feel like you’re giving them more options. They aren’t an annoying client until you suggest this and THEN they tell you that you must use their layout/design etc. At which point… you say ok… then do it your way AND their way if you really really need the work. In 2d it’s easier because you can just do up a few concept sketches for proof of composition… but either way, try to be polite about the fact that you are an artist and this is your area of expertise. That’s the point of hiring an artist in the first place :wink:

wort case scenario!
quote
They wanted me to screw up my composition to make it look “so much better” and add their own bad designs on top

offer them some advices
but if they don’t want to listen then don’t bother you’ll regret it anyway

better use your time to find other more open mind customers

sometimes you get these dum and dummer customers who are
jack of all trade and master of none

and there is nothing you can do about it !

happy blendering

This doesn’t just happen with art, but almost any interaction between a client and someone they are paying to do work for them. I am just a programmer, but have had so many times when a client (or boss) wanted something changed to become ugly, illogical, or just plain dumb.

But ultimately they are the boss and need to get what they want, which is what they are paying for. Citing all the reasons why your way is better serves little purpose in this situation. My job is to just do the best job I can within the constraints that the client dictates. You just hold you nose, smile, and do what they ask. You can get to do exactly what you want when you are paying for it. So exercise your creativity on your own side projects instead.

You may find this article helpful:

It has to do with audio design, but it applies to all freelancer work.

4tonmantis: Good advice, thanks I’ll remember that.

wort case scenario!

Haha alright! Worst cases scenario on my first job! Welcome to the industry indeed… (although I’m sure there has been / will be worse)

But ultimately they are the boss and need to get what they want, which is what they are paying for. Citing all the reasons why your way is better serves little purpose in this situation. My job is to just do the best job I can within the constraints that the client dictates. You just hold you nose, smile, and do what they ask. You can get to do exactly what you want when you are paying for it. So exercise your creativity on your own side projects instead.

Agreed, but this was about using one of my already finished works. Slightly different than working with them from the beginning. Good advice though, I will keep that in mind.

MikeFarny: Thanks for that link, it was helpful.

I think the trick is to realize that crap happens, and being frustrated won’t solve anything so we may as well just laugh about these things and let off some steam.

Double your rate for annoying clients. You may get rid of them while maybe also getting a bit of extra cash for doing stuff you hate. ( :wink: )

You need the Jumping Frog Fee.
http://www.27bslash6.com/bob.html

I think it is less a “boss” thing rather than have you done what you are supposed to do? The whole thing sounds like expectations are not matching. This usually leads to conflicts.

Solving that is not easy especially if there was already a big investment (in time, skills, passion etc.). It might help to evaluate the expectations beforehand as much as you can.

(Hint: expectations can be changed on all participants ;))
Just my 3 cents
Monster

You might want to give this one a read.
The Five Core Concerns of Negotiation:

I agree with StompinTom, raise your rates. Charge for change requests.

HAHA! That’s awesome! :smiley:

Loved every word of that “jumping frog fee” story. Thanks!

You need the Jumping Frog Fee.
http://www.27bslash6.com/bob.html

Haha while that may not be the professional way to handle people, it does show some practical problems that it would be good to state upfront when making a deal. Hilarious story, thanks for sharing!

Don’t take it personally, it’s just a job. I have similar experiences and even I know things could be done better it’s not my problem.

you must not let your ego or judgment get in the way of what the customer wants.

it doesn’t matter that you’re messing up your work. it’s not yours… they bought it. give them what they want.

they are hiring you to do what they want you to do. you can give them the benefit of your opinion and expertise but if they deny it, give them what they want so that they will be pleased with it - even if no one else will be.

as for “exposure”, lots of ways to just downplay that. not an issue. you have your price - when all is said and done, you have your rock bottom price - they either hit it or they don’t… if it’s not worth your time, walk.

and if they’re going to nickel and dime, don’t be afraid to turn it back on them by detailing the things you’ll have to strip out and forego for the price they’re talking.

but i assume you’re doing this BEFORE work has begun right? shouldn’t be negotiating price at the tail end.

they are hiring you to do what they want you to do.

Do they know what they want? If yes, then you found a good client.

it doesn’t matter that you’re messing up your work. it’s not yours… they bought it. give them what they want.

That’s why in this case it was bad because it is still mine. They did not take my work away from me…more like borrowed it for money. But whatever, I made some stupid decisions too, and I got over this case. The good news is that I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. Next time will go a lot smoother for sure. Everyone has a rocky start right?

Three points:

  • If, from the git-go, you offer no resistance to whatever input they offer, you can usually get away with doing it your own way simply because no one’s had to defend their point of view and therefore no egos have become involved. If they later say you haven’t done what they asked, you can always claim you misunderstood and do a quick hatchet job to comply.
  • You can do all the stupid things a client wants and toss good design out the window because you aren’t under any obligation to include their stuff in your portfolio. You can also do a best-design version for your portfolio and give them the whatever-they-want version. If someone ever points out these versions aren’t the same when you’re showing potential new clients your portfolio, you can always say, “Oops! That’s an earlier version they passed on. Thought I updated this thing.” Chances are, it will never happen but if it does, the potential client is more likely to say they like your ‘out-dated’ version better. I’ve seen it happen.
  • When it comes to dealing with clients for any artistic job, it’s far more important to be easy to deal with, punctual with deadlines, on time for meetings and to offer services at a fair price. No one really cares how talented you are unless it’s award time. And most industry awards are a favour-for-favour system ( you further my business/ambitions and I’ll make sure you get an award as recognition).

They can all be annoying, but the customer is always right…make sure you are both 100% clear on payment, time frame, expenditures, and deliverables…get it in writing and verbally go over the contract(briefly) with them…let them know it is to protect them as well as yourself and generally things go ok…aside from a few hiccups…I try not to give any extra until payment is made, then I generally go a little extra for them once I feel like they have fed my family…unfortunaltely there are not a whole lot of return customers in independent game development…with a few exceptions.