I’ve written earlier about speculative work in the design industry and am an avid supporter of NO!SPEC.

I have time and again come across clients who regularly say “So what ‘sample’ work will you do for us to show that you are good enough and that we ‘should’ give you the ‘whole’ design engagement?” Usually I politely tell them that I don’t work for free and they reply with the fact that the ‘other’ design studios are giving them a ‘presentation’ next week and if they want me to be considered, they need me to do the same, at which point I say “Sorry, not happening.” and usually hang up.

About 4-5 days ago I was speaking to another such prospective client and after his informing me that other design studios were giving a presentation, I told him flatly that I wasn’t going to do that because that’s not how I work. If he needs proof of my skills, all he needed to do was check out my website, which has my entire portfolio.

I was pleasantly surprised when the client offered to do a small initial project with me, pay me for it and then take it from there. So for now, I am designing his business cards. The ‘whole’ project would include two logo designs, two sets of stationery, two websites and a whole load of print collateral.

Sometimes you just have to put your foot down – of course you do turn away some clients, but then imagine the kick you get out of working with someone who makes you realize that your work indeed is good! The rest of the design studios making presentations can go hang themselves!


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  1. Hi

    Your style of handelling the client is very accurate.I liked it.There are many things people can learn from your experience.

  2. Thanks Aditya! Nice to hear from you and I think the best place for designers to learn about handling clients is by exchanging stories with other designers – it’s quite fascinating to listen to what other designers have gone through – sometimes it helps to ask as many questions to the client as possible because they really are not aware of how it works and how we designers like it to work!

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