I was doing a photoshoot for a client who wanted a library of photos for promoting to their African-American and Hispanic customer. The first comment I got on the first round of photos?
Client: This feels too diverse.
The owner of a startup company contacted me to design his logo, app, and website.
Client: After looking at some of your other work, I think you’d be a great fit for my company. I’ve never worked with a designer before, but I do a lot of research.
He then shared his whole business plan PowerPoint with red text in all caps on a gray background. The plan seemed solid, so I overlooked the colors.
Me: So what is the timeline like?
Client: Well, I want it done in a couple of months so we can present to investors, and I want to add more projects on as we go along.
Me: Do you have any more details? I’ll need an idea of the scope and will have to outline the timeline in my contract before we move forward.
Client: Oh, I don’t sign other people’s contracts. But speaking of, I need you to sign this NDA since I told you my business plan. How about we just treat this like an internship? And what race are you? I want a diverse team to appeal to investors.
I declined. I later found out that I was the third designer he’d worked with that month after he fired a national firm and another freelancer walked out.
I was designing a logo for a client who ran a gourmet pork sausage stall at farmers markets in the local area.
Client: Can you please ensure that the logo doesn’t actually show any sausages?
Me: I’m sure I can manage that. May I ask why?
Client: I don’t want to exclude Muslim markets.
I designed the logo and he was very happy with it. I’m not sure that Muslim clients will start buying his pork sausages, but at least the logo was inclusive!
Oh, by the way! Can you design me an invitation for my Cinco De Mayo party? I’ll send you all the info. Just don’t make it look too Mexican.my mom’s friend
A client hired me to design a logo for their social networking project featuring a ring of people holding hands. They didn’t ask me to, but in my design comp I gave all the people different skintones because it just seemed, you know, normal.
Client: I don’t like this logo, it’s racist. Just make all the people white.
Me: In what way is it “racist”? We’re just being inclusive. I don’t understand the problem.
Client: It’s racist to draw attention to people’s differences. Just make them white.
Me: …and how exactly is excluding people of color and pretending that everyone is white any better?
Client: It’s just better, if all the icons are white then nobody will think about it.
Then he fired me on the spot. (Bullet dodged though, honestly…)
Client: I’ve bought these stock photos of people. Can you please put them on the home page of my website?
Me: Ok that’s been done. Could you please check you’re happy with it?
Client: Oh I’m not sure I like that.
Me: What seems to be the problem?
Client: Well I think there are too many white people.
Me: These are the photos which you provided, but I’d be happy to change the photos if you provide new ones.
Client: I want to appear more ethnically friendly but I don’t want to buy any more photos. Could you just colour some of them in so they look black?
After sending us photos for a new website…
Client: Please don’t use any photos where you can see anyone’s face. We didn’t get permission from the parents to take photos of their children. You can use stock pictures instead.
With those restrictions, about 2% of the photos the client sent were actually useable. I did up a preview of the site, using what pictures I could, and filling in the rest with stock photos, and I sent it over to the client.
Client: I don’t feel like the stock pictures work well. Please use the photos we took, but perhaps change the race of the children – make some of them Asian in Photoshop.
Me: …um do you not just want me to find stock pictures of Asian children?
Client: I guess that will work too.
I have been producing an alternate-monthly magazine for about five years. Every few issues, the publisher comes to me with the same request.
Client: Make all the skin tones in all the photographs the same.
Never mind the fact that people photographed are all different ages, sexes and races, the skin tones must be uniform. I’ve managed to dissuade him for now.
We want a black male voiceover artist for our video, but he mustn’t sound white or black.