"Make the logo bigger", "This looks like cartoon", "Bright colours are visual assault", "This is not centred", "I also know something about design".

Until recently, I really used to think these typical ignorant client-comments are stereotypes and myths. But I have been (mis)fortunate enough to experience most of these recently, if not all. Among these all, I really find it hard to come up with a convincing response to "This looks like cartoon". I was assigned to make some in-trend onboarding illustrations and I used flat expressive illustrations with a vibrant palette. Like Facebook's (See examples.). And I was laughed at when I said these are called expressive illustration and not cartoon. What am I supposed to say (when the client/employee has no specific brief or vision of what they want or I'm not welcome to explain the difference in styles)?

For examples: https://www.behance.net/gallery/55507083/Facebook-Community-Standards https://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/features/illustration/giovanna-giuliano-illustrations-wonderfully-imagine-facebook-real-life/

Similar lively contrasting palettes seem to "visually assault" some people's eyes too, as I was told.

All of these boil down to that the client is in a state of delusion that its personal liking is what its targeted customers will like too. That's wrong and that's where graphic designers come in play. They design a solution to the problem that was blocking engagement of the customer. We swallowed the design principles for that. Now what should our response be when an inexperienced person from management comes telling us how to solve a problem which he has no idea about? It's like a patient teaching the doctor how to do his job because the patient is paying money.

  • Eh . . . but they kind of are cartoons. What's the problem, isn't your client just stating the obvious? If what you have designed is not to your customers taste, then surely it's your fault for not finding out what they really want before you waste your time. If your client can't give you a specific brief, then don't work for them.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 19:55
  • 2
    @BillyKerr No see that's the problem there. We believe it too early that the client has a clear vision. There was never a brief of what they want. They wanted in-trend. This is in trend! A little questioning brought out that they wanted cartoon, but more realistic towards humans... Now those are also cartoons! What I delivered them later, they were happy with those. But this makes no sense since those were not humanish either! And not to forget that the client is not the targeted customer. Neither is the designer. The client thinks what he/she personally likes is what the customer will like.
    – Bluebug
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 20:00
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    It sounds like the problem here is that you took on work without knowing what your client really wanted. That's nearly always going to end in disaster. You took a chance, but it didn't really pay off.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 20:05
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    @BillyKerr That's funny because when I asked them to show me what kind of illustrations they want, they were showing me cartoons which were more cartoonish than humanish. So I thought that's what they want. After I made it, it was suddenly not good.
    – Bluebug
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 20:07
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    Then if that's the case, I suppose these things are always going to be up to the personal taste of your client. Perhaps it's just the nature of the job that you took on. Next time, make sure you include possible failure in your costing model. At least that way you won't feel so cheated when it happens.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 20:10

1 Answer 1


The client is never "ignorant". They are the client. They are paying the invoices, their opinion always matters.

How you combat feedback you don't deem worthwhile...

You provide information to explain why your designs are on track.

  • "That looks like a cartoon" -- Actually, Facebook's current trend is to use expressive illustration to represent its' users. More androgynous, ethno-ambiguous figures which are stylized in this manner as to not be overly specific. You can see examples [here] and [here]. I can understand why you feel these may look like "cartoons" but they are indeed on trend with current marketing on Facebook. This ensures [product/service] is seen as "modern" or "hip" by the [demographic] being targeted and not overlooked as some antiquated [product/service].

  • "Bright colors are a visual assault" --- Yes. To some degree they are. However, that is the direct intension. In order to visually appear more prominent on a page full of various colors and elements, using brighter colors attracts the eye to a greater degree. This is not to "assault" the eyes, but to pull the eye toward the advertisement far more than other page elements. Brighter colors will again be seen as favorably by [demographic] - promoting a "lively" and "exciting" impression, as opposed to pastel or muted colors which may convey a boring or inactive connotation.

None of this means the client will agree with you or change their opinion. However, the odds of that happening are greatly improved if you can explain the decisions you made.

In my experience almost any client feedback can be directly contradicted by explaining why you made the design choices you made. It is tiresome at the start of a fresh client relationship. But it also becomes second nature once it's done enough. Typically after working with any client for a while, these sort of explanations tend to not be necessary as projects gain traction and success. Trust grows and clients tend to allow you to do what it is you do.

If, after all this, the client is still unhappy with your work, perhaps you didn't explore what they wanted well enough before starting the project? Typically I'm not light-years off in design if I've discussed things with the client first. I may not hit a home run first try, but given a client briefing, I'm at least always in the ballpark.

  • Those are actually very good responses. Thank you. Yes the client literally got me speechless with those remarks and left me angered because I was not even given a chance to explain (I was told on my face that they don't have time to read or listen explanation), and later they started 'correcting' my design like specifying and questioning every font, every colour. So I had to discard the whole thing and redo one which they liked. But yes if I could give those responses at that time, it wouldn't have soured the deal.
    – Bluebug
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 7:47
  • scortt [here] and [here] seem to be missing links
    – joojaa
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 8:09
  • @joojaa or maybe he meant the whole paragraph as a quotation that can be said in response to the client, and so the designer can give the links when they are responding to the client.
    – Bluebug
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 9:33
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    Exactly, I didn't mean anything as a copy/paste quote.. but more as a guide to the methodology in explaining. And some clients are micro-managers @Bluebug I find it best, when presented with that type of client o just shut up and do what they want if that's the type of client they are going to be. They'll never ben happy with what you do and chances are... I'll find myself "too busy" when they present me with their next project.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 13:36
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    And (I think) joojaa may have been kidding :)
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 13:46

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