What is the toughest audience you have designed for?

Michael Bierut told us how hard he finds it to design for other designers. We asked some more designers who their trickiest customers are.

Matt Baxter, creative director, Baxter and Bailey


“Phee-yew. There have been some toughies over the years. But by far and away the toughest, most brutal audience group I’ve ever worked for are the under-eights. You want feedback? Try ‘That’s not very good’, ‘Can we draw now?’ and ‘Chris Riddell was here last week. He was good.’ You want an appraisal of your presentation style? Try ‘You look funny’, ‘How old are you?’ and ‘Why are you bald?’ You want a feeling of existential uncertainty? Try being called ‘Miss’. Give me designers any day. At least they don’t laugh at your glasses.”


Michael C Place, creative director, Build


“One of the toughest groups we’ve designed for is widely seen as the pariah of the modern world. Will we be cast out, will we see the fruits of our labour torched and abused by all and sundry? Will the studio be judged as if we had rebranded ISIS? Will we be heckled in the street as I pick up my pizza from the Posh SPAR, people muttering under their breaths ‘SELL OUT’. Did we present to a room of shiny suit wearing wideboys in shoes that could only be described as lethal weapons? My conscious is clear… my name is Michael and I designed an estate agents’ branding (in up-and-coming Walthamstow).”


Lizzie Mary Cullen, illustrator


“I designed a tattoo for a fellow artist last year. After an initial paralysis I was able to make something I was really proud of. But it took a while. I kept thinking: ‘It will be on this guy’s skin all his life’. This will be on his skin from now until he dies, accompanying him through all his future life events: births, deaths and marriages. I got a bit freaked out. But then I embraced the honour of it, and then it was all fine.”

Cullen says: “Since getting my own tattoo done the other day I can understand even better the permanency of it.”


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  • Mark North March 19, 2015 at 11:28 am

    My most uncomfortable presentation was in Seoul. The senior manager pretended to be asleep throughout whilst his team watched our presentation on screen with their backs to us, even though they were in the same room. At the end of the presentation he opened one eye and asked the most junior person to comment. My South Korean is not the best, but I don’t think it was a great day for her either. On the way home, after a 12 hour flight, I was snowed in overnight at Frankfurt Airport. Die hard with PowerPoint.

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