3 Ways to Kill (or Maim) a Designer Without Even Touching Them
There are three good ways to kill or maim a designer with a simple email. They won't die physically, but their spirit will shrivel a bit and some will find new professions, or move in with their parents and go back to hair school. Some may be embittered, others, the real keepers, will get tough as nails and be design Chuck Norrises that can withstand anything life throws at them. You can take these tips as ideas to torture your neighborhood designer, or use them as a 'not to' list and avoid them. That is up to you to chose.
They all start with the same recipe.
Setting the Stage
Hire a designer to take a concept from start to finish. Give them free reign and very little input. Assure them you defer to their decisions as the professional (or call them an artist, they love being called that) and give them a couple weeks or so to finalize their work before you review. Pepper them with compliments and confidence-enhancing emails ("Hope the project is going well, we're so excited to see what you come up with! We know it will be brilliant!!!) The trap has been set. They're off the rails, their egos are fully inflated and they are running full speed into the trap. Here is where you pounce. Once they've spent some time building a strong piece, have them email you a full presentation on their work for review. Here's where the 3 choices come in:
1. (Brain-Eating) Crickets
Here is my heart and soul, in 40 page PDF format. I've climbed a mountain in a faraway land to speak with a holy man to get this recipe for success. Here are detailed instructions on what I've created with this hard-earned knowledge and next steps. I look forward to your feedback!"
-------END EMAIL CHAIN-------
Just don't respond. Ever. This is the easiest option of the three and is sort of like programming a self-destruct code in a sentient robot or laying a brain-hijacking fungus in ants. Stop responding to their emails after weeks of regular interaction. Play email dead, as it were.This sets the designer into a internal game of 'insert your thoughts of self-doubt here' Mad Libs.
They'll start annoyed with you, they may even worry you suddenly died, but ultimately, they'll redirect those confused feelings internally and reconsider a career as a park ranger or dog walker. Again. Veterans or thick-skinned will shake it off, but this will thin out the new, inexperienced or sensitive designer souls. This is also effective when they send invoices.
2. Rapid Fire (Exploding Heart) Rejection
This isn't really what we were looking for. (or try a more sportsy-idiom: "This isn't a homerun.") Can you send some of your other ideas? I'm sure you've got great ones up your sleeve! We'll know it when we see it. We'd like to see them by EOD, to meet our print date of yesterday. Thank you!
Don't open their 20 page presentation or even their 5 sentence email. Just toss a polite, but horrifyingly short, email letting them know their massive project they've poured their best ideas and work into has been rejected and sign off with an ambiguous next step. Don't identify what you want or what is wrong and leave it in their court to fix the unidentified problem. Send this response soon enough to make it clear you didn't look at the presentation. Okay, maybe glance at it on your iPhone at a stop light if you want, but just a peek. Remind them as the professional its their job to know what you want, to do all the work in the relationship, and that the deadline has not changed. Its like tossing them TWO hot potatoes.
This is the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, subtle, super effective and ultimately, leaves the designer to take those steps towards their own demise. You've instilled them with rejection but no tools to get out. It's really fun to watch them flounder their way out of this, but dude, they are already dead inside.
3. We Love It (to Death)!!!
We totally love it! It is so perfect, thank you! Wow wow wow!
Small note: we were wondering if you could take the color from A, put it on B, add a dog maybe watermarked behind the words (our CEO loves his Schnauzer) and maybe flip it so it runs vertically ? We want it to be really big! Would that be too hard? Oh, also our janitor saw it and mentioned the font reminded him of Nazis, so, can you find something maybe friendlier? Like its written by a kid but not too childish? And could you consider making the letter "H" really big so people don't miss it? We feel like its getting lost with all the other letters in the word. I think with those little tweaks we're there! Thanks again!
P.S. I CC'd the rest of the office and my mother-in-law (she's really creative) so they can send ideas your way to. Hope that helps!
- Your Adoring Client"
This is the most time-intensive for you (because you're going to be giving a lot of verrrry detailed feedback on how to design - likely for a month or so, or as long as the designer keeps at it) but it garners the most horrific results. If the designer doesn't quit, they will certainly take a month off after to 'reconsider their life direction'.
Basically meticulously and excitedly Frankenstein the work into a mishmash of several half-baked ideas to kinda-appease all decision makers (and kinda-appeasing, is not like soft-baked cookies, but more like slightly spoiled milk or a college group project). This option is something akin to having to dissect your own dog. It'll be not only soul-crushingly bad but also challenging and really messed up. This is the best way to kill a designer(s soul), start by making them feel like they're the designer but ultimately you'll design it through their cold dead hands. Fun!
This is where I have solution-based comment, but you guys probably know this stuff yes? Just be prepared for the worst, be kind, and do your best work. Oh, and talk to people - like actually talk to them. Email is the ultimate passive-aggressive miscommunication tool there is. Call your clients, call your designer. Go share a steak. All kinds of problems could be solved over a good steak. The End.