Do You See What I See? Explaining Your Vision to Your Client

Do You See What I See? Explaining Your Vision to Your Client

The gloves are off and opinions are flying. In a creative profession, like graphic design, we are all faced with similar situations when meeting with a client. It may not always be a blood bath, but it has the potential to be uncomfortable. After all, it is two professional parties coming together, with their own opinions and agendas, trying to work out a common vision.

Ideally, both sides will take the time to carefully listen and attempt to communicate clearly (the key word: attempt.) Hence the title, do you see what I see? It is a game we all play when attempting to explain our ideas, visions, or purpose.

Those who are super hero enough, can somehow climb into a person’s head, root around, retrieve the vision, then climb back out with a clear objective and purpose (quite a messy job if you ask me.) But, those of us who are not super heroes must struggle to find that common vision. The way that is accomplished is through listening very carefully and asking questions.

During that whole process, I already start forming strategies and my own vision. I pay attention to any red flags that were raised and then attempt to “guide” the client away from potential pit falls. By doing so you have crossed a line and added you opinion to the table. Now, whose opinion is more important?

Some would say the client’s is more important because they are paying the bills. While others will take the Steve Jobs stance and say… “[they] don’t know what they want until you show them.” Both perspectives have valid arguments but, in order to answer the original question let me ask another. Who’s opinion has the most weight and matters the most? (Answer: neither)

Technically, the most important opinion is that of the consumer.

A graphic designer’s purpose is to create effective visual communication for the consumer. Otherwise, our work fails as design. Frank Chimero said, “People ignore design that ignores people.” So, the real game of do you see what I see is played with the consumer.

As creatives, we can get all caught up in the design process. Focus on what we are trying to communicate and how it is being communicated. We also take pride in our work and judge it according to style and our ability to design something aesthetically pleasing. As a result, the project becomes tied to our ego. But the true way we measure success as a graphic designer, is determined by how our communication is perceived. In other words, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So, if we want to help “guide” a client toward an effective solution, we better have something more than an opinion in our back pocket. Because, In the end, most people won’t care who had what opinion. They probably won’t even notice all the blood, sweat and tears that were poured into the project. But, what they do care about is if the design moved them.

Yes, a graphic designer’s job sounds thankless and we may play the unsung hero role at times. But, at least we can walk away knowing that we are heroes.

Jake Miller is a freelance designer and blogger at

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(5) responses

Do You See What I See? Explaining You Vision | JM Designs – Graphic Designer: Logo, Brand Identity, Web, & Print

April 3, 2013

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April 4, 2013

Well said. This can be a hard thing to figure out with conflicting styles and interests.



    April 8, 2013

    Depending on how you look at it, arriving at common ground with different styles and interests can be difficult but rewarding process. As long as it leads to a better product.


Jacob Williams

April 9, 2013

I’m not a graphic designer. I work in architecture. But I think this will apply.

If I can see that the customer is a perfectionist type I will make sure to bring up in conversation a little food for thought. (Not directed at them, more of a, “don’t you think it’s weird that people….”) That is, that there’s no such thing as perfection. There is no such thing as THE solution. There are multiple ways of achieving the goal. Multiple designs that will look amazing and perfect. I never lead a customer to believe I will come up with the best absolute possible design for his or her website/property.

I will come up with a solution, I will do better than they would. I also know that next years version will be better. (Steve Jobs nodding in grave. He knows what I’m talking about.)

Lastly, the word “Creatives” must be put to trial. Does it define the people in the industry anymore? Meaning, I don’t think it gives enough weight to the technical skills that a GD uses every day. I find that those talents are more appreciated because they are better measured. Further, the majority of freelancers are semi-coders if not full out. Of course I’m arguing semantics. I just had to prove I read the whole article.

There’s a lot of money in transitioning all those websites. :)

There’s so many firms in my area hiring graphic designers. People don’t realize how desperate the market is for them. You will all be rich and smoking electric cigars by 2030. Holding up your glamour monocles to your iPhone14’s with Prefrontal Cortext displays.



    April 10, 2013

    I agree with you and thanks for giving me a chance to clarify.

    Providing food for thought is a great way to get the client thinking and encourage them in the direction you are suggesting. The point of the article was to bring to attention that some of us do argue and get hung up on semantics. In addition, the “best possible solution” is not an absolute. Yes there are many solutions to a project, and many of them are good. But, in the end the client choses what they believe is the best out of all the designs we present.

    I would never claim that I have the “best” solutions. In fact, I was appalled when I heard a designer say they would come up with the absolute best design possible.

    Lastly, the term “creative” is an interesting topic. The reason I used it was because the word “graphic designer” was becoming redundant. It was purely a writing tactic. However, I would like to present another question to you. Does the term “graphic designer” (GD) better describe what we do? There is a large amount of people out there that are in the dark about what exactly a graphic designer does. Of course that can be cleared up through meetings, but is GD better suited to convey our skills? Also, where are you from?


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