I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Friday, March 31, 2017


I'm experiencing a dreary, rainy day and wishing for some sun.  I noticed this layout when I recently backed up some old files.  Did you know files stored on CDs and DVDs may fail over time?  Files on flash drives can fail too if you don't plug them in once in a while.  Also, store CDs and DVDs flat, not on their edges.

This layout wasn't bought, if you can believe it.  I thought it was better than the chocolate spoons at any rate.  They didn't buy my alternate idea either.  Sometimes I can dust off a layout and sell it to someone else, but I've never found a home for these layouts.

A lot of times there's no way of knowing why something doesn't sell.  Maybe the box cost more to produce than the customer wanted to pay?  Salespeople often don't express the customer's needs as well as the designer needs to understand them.  Maybe the customer didn't like the design or colors.  I liked this art, but it might've been because I was sick of doing things with dreary colors and labored illustrations.  Who knows?

You've got to be thick-skinned when you do art for a living.  Most of your work won't sell, and if you want to survive, you've just got to accept that.

When I started out, I didn't accept this truth.  People insisted on wanting the "wrong" layouts.  They didn't understand the effort I'd put into things or how proud I was of certain designs.  They weren't taking my feelings into consideration at all (!), and they could be nasty about it too.  I suppose I added to that dynamic when I got hot about it and tried to argue for the "right" designs.

"Don't discount the value of [your client's] expertise.  When he says something you don't agree with, ask him what he means.  Assume he's got a reason for saying it, and that you could learn something by listening to that reason." ~ boss to Bob Anderson after he strongly disagreed with a client's course of action.

I cut that quote out of a magazine years ago, and it's been hanging on my wall ever since.  I got in a lot fewer disagreements with customers after I accepted this wisdom.  When my sun design wasn't purchased, I shrugged my shoulders.  I was new to my job and didn't understand the full psychology of chocolate spoons.  Okay, I still don't understand the spoons.  Just give me a chunk of chocolate.  Chocolate makes meetings go better anyway.

There was another client about this time who wanted packaging in dull varieties of gingham.  (Yawn.)  I kept trying to get them to accept something more interesting, but they stuck with gingham.  When I went into one of their stores, it all made sense.  I quit wasting my time trying to elevate their tastes.  It became easy money, and that's always good.  I saved my energy for other clients.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned is don't show a "wrong" layout at all.  If you don't want the customer to choose it, do another layout.  If you don't have time, just show the one you want them to pick.  One good layout is better than a binder full of crap.

Even better, one good check is worth a little creative idealism :)


  1. I know exactly what you write about here. It's hard to accept, but the client is always right - even when she or he isn't. When you sell your art to commercial interests, that's just how it is, isn't... Better learn the pragmatic approach to survive, sooner is better than later. :-)

    1. The client is always the one with the money, and that's pretty persuasive :)

  2. That motto is a great way to think about things. It is not always easy though. I can see why you clipped it.

    1. Sometimes I have to be repeatedly reminded about good sense :)