Could You Solutionize That For Me? When Clients' Dumbest Requests Become Art

Creatives turn their workplace face-palms into art for a good cause.

Ah, the relationship between creative professional and client. A give and take ballet as old as commerce. Caricatures abound on both sides. On one side you’ve got the "suit"—the sausage-fingered, short-sighted philistine whose imagination is as limited as his power to make meaningful decisions on the direction of a project. On the other side you’ve got the "creative"—the self-involved, petulant hipster who just wants to satisfy her ego and pad her portfolio, business results be damned. Of course these are mythical extremes. And yet… Like all cliches, there is some truth at the heart of the cartoon. There’s no arguing that tensions arise when a client, who has presumably paid an agency or other creative entity for the creative skills and opinions of its staff attempts to then insert his or her own creative directives (and limitations) into the process. "Make the logo bigger" is the ur Bad Client dictum, but every "creative" has her own favorite.

Irish creative team Mark Shanley and Paddy Treacy recently orchestrated a lemonade-making sort of project that turns clients’ less informed requests into art. The pair asked ad agency creatives, designers, animators, directors, illustrators, and other creative types to take their "favorite" client comments and turn them into posters. Under the banner "SharpSuits," the group organized and exhibited the posters at a Dublin gallery, with all proceeds going to the Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

According to Treacy, all the comments you see are real. And as for client feedback on the project: "Nobody’s said anything yet. But we presume we’re fired," says Treacy. "That’s why we kept all submissions anonymous."

And, not for nothing, Treacy also acknowledges that clients are hardly alone in being occasionally intolerable. "Creatives are as bad as everyone else. Maybe worse! To photographers, directors, illustrators etc, we’re the client and we come out with this crap all the time. Last week I heard myself asking a voice-over artist to "go again, I can’t hear the smile".

Take a look at some of the client comments above.

Next week: the clients’ revenge? (Come on clients, you know you want to submit some of your own bonehead creatives’ comments).

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  • Mario Donquilab

    Its like answering a question: "That's a good question but i don't know the answer"

  • Shelley

    How about this one - "I"ll leave it to you, you are the professionals - but can you change this ... And this ... And this ..."

  • Tiana Kai

    This is amazing! Such a great and fun project. Every client should hang a poster in their board room.

  • Guest

    I'd like to add:
    "It needs to POP more!"

    /heads off to make own poster for office...

  • Corinne Meier

    Too funny and just the tip of the iceberg of the types of questions they ask. The worst is having to explain how the internet works, but then again if there wasn't Google ----oh wait, even though does Google indeed exists....we still have full blown business opportunity. Many businesses exist - including the entire school system past the grade you learn how to read...its not going to be long though until LMGI becomes mainstream...

  • Inese Smidre

    This is brilliant - would be great to have the 'other side of the coin' collection of rubbish that comes from the agency side.

    I've certainly come across the 'can we make the [cow] sexy' conundrum.