Common Designer Annoyances

If you’re a gainfully employed graphic designer you probably have a boss. This means there are likely a number of scenarios your boss puts you in that stress you out daily. Sure, bosses can stress you out in all types of jobs, not just design. Working as designers, the annoying things your boss does are tasking you with last-minute ideas, not planning well, watching you work, not defining a project lead, and ignoring creative briefs. Here’s a bit more about each of these scenarios; some of which may seem all too familiar to you.

Last-Minute Ideas

These are the kind of ideas that work best with the help of a time machine. You’re tasked with an urgent project. The annual staff Christmas party is tomorrow and the office is bare. Oh sure, there are Christmas decorations up, but nothing else. No staff achievement wall, no motivational quotes, just bare walls sprinkled in some tinsel.

Your boss has decided this just won’t do and tasks you with decorating the office walls. You quickly whip up some 12″ by 12″ artwork to fill the empty picture frames laying around the office. You send a proof to your boss. All is good to go. You send to the printer with a rush order. An hour after the printer confirms the rush order will be done in time, your boss has changes.

You try to explain that the file has already gone to the printer. Your boss says “it’s fine, just call and tell them to halt the order until they get the new file”. Now it’s your job to call the printer, cancel the rush, and tell them a new file will be on it’s way within the hour. Assuming there are no more changes. Unfortunately, it’s already 4pm and the printers will be closed in an hour. You then proceed to rage snap your pencil in half.

Poor Planning

The design team been told to create a visual brand identity for a new internal brand. Oh, and it needs to be launched in two weeks. Since your boss actually realizes that isn’t enough time, he ranks it as priority number one. You work day and night sketching and creating computer mock ups. Once you have a logo you’re happy to present you create a mock website homepage to go with it.

When it’s finally time to present your concepts, you’re proud of the work you did. Everyone on the design team came up with something great. Once presented, your boss deliberates. He brings in some other managers for their opinions. Then they all leave without finalizing anything. Your entire team hears nothing more about the project for a week.

The next week your boss calls the design team together to discuss the branding project. He says your team’s designs were good, but none of them will be used. It turns out, because the project was so rushed, the brand personality, voice, and name were never finalized. This means you wasted that entire week. Your boss now tasks you and the team with creating an entirely different logo. Sure, the name still isn’t finalized, but designers don’t need a brand name to make a logo right?

Monitor Checking

You work in an open office, and that’s fine. You know, for collaboration and communication and blah blah blah. One day you’re working on an online ad for a client and your boss just happens to walk by. Being an open office, your monitor is on display for anyone to see. Your boss can’t miss this opportunity to check it and tell you the colours are all wrong. Oh, and there’s a typo. Also, he doesn’t like the font.

After a subtle eye roll, you explain that you’re still working on it. In no way was this design ready to be seen by anyone else yet. Your boss says “okay, but could you just change up that font?” He then proceeds to stand there and watch, over your shoulder, until you have changed the font. Then fixed the typo. And changed the colours. That’s when you decide to work from home tomorrow.

Not Defining Project Leaders

Remember, when everyone is in charge, no one is in charge. Early in the morning, your boss wants you to put together a PDF for the sales team to send to potential customers. You’re about an hour into the project when the head of the sales team stops by your desk. She asks how it’s going and wants to see what you have so far. You show her.

She then decides the pages should be landscape orientation, not portrait. She explains this is necessary because people will be looking at it on their computers. Okay, sure. Another hour goes by and the CEO comes for a visit. She looks at what you’ve been working on, then suggests that it should be much wider, like a widescreen movie. You try and explain that this is a document, not a movie. She suggests you ‘try it anyway’ so she can see how it looks.

After some time, you’re ready for lunch. But before you can head out the door, your boss stops by. He asks why the orientation is so wide. He explains this document will be printed and that it should be standard orientation. You try to calmly explain that you’re receiving conflicting feedback from three different people, all whom assume ownership of this project.

After a long pause he says to fix the orientation, and walks away. You quickly make the change, reverting to an older version of the project. Then you run out to grab lunch before someone else decides the document should actually be a video instead.

Ignoring The Brief

You get a project to build a series of posters for a client. You work through the day, and send off proofs to everyone involved in the project by the end of the day. The next morning you have a few minor changes to make before getting final approval. The design is then sent to the printer to be picked up in a few days.

On the day the posters are ready to be picked up, you’re home sick with a head cold. Your boss goes to pick up the posters instead. You come back to the office the next day to find out he’s been arguing back and forth with the printers about their poor print quality. He demanded the printers re-print the posters. You’re not sure what exactly is wrong with the posters, because your boss didn’t bring the posters back.

Eventually, you go to the print shop yourself to check. Upon receiving the posters you notice that nothing is wrong with them. Curiously, the print quality is perfect and everything is exactly how it should be.

You bring the posters back to your office to ask your boss what he thinks is wrong. He points out that four of the posters barely have an image on them; that they are way to dark. You then explain to him that they are meant to be. The client asked for a series of five posters all containing parts of a larger image. Only the center poster would have text. The rest are meant to be dark, barely visible images to reinforce the messaging in the center poster. Exactly what was asked for in the original brief.

Annoying Things Your Boss Does: In Conclusion

These are pretty specific situations, but if you’ve been in the industry, as an agency designer or in-house designer, you’ve probably experienced at least one. Most of these issues arise from poor communication and lack of planning all the way up the ladder. There isn’t much you can do to prepare aside from expecting every thing to take longer than it should. In other words, if a project is due Friday, have it done by Wednesday or Thursday. Also, if you’re tasked with designing a logo, make sure your boss gives you the finalized name and brand direction before you begin.


Photo Credits