Dear Client: How to work with creatives

Graphic designer Bonnie Siegler – founder of New York studio Eight and a Half – has published a guide for clients working with creative teams. Here, she talks to CR about the experiences that inspired her to write it and the key to a good client/studio relationship

Every graphic design project throws up a unique set of challenges. But when it comes to working with clients, many designers experience the same frustrations. Endless rounds of feedback, too many people involved in meetings or a change of heart at the last minute can throw projects off course and put relationships under strain.

Bonnie Siegler’s book Dear Client aims to tackle some of these issues and offers some wise advice for brands and individuals working with creative teams. Based on Siegler’s experience of working with clients across entertainment, publishing, finance and the arts, the book provides a list of do’s and don’ts and explains why certain ways of working or communicating can be detrimental to the success of a project.

We caught up with Siegler at creative conference Adobe MAX, where she shared some tips from the book, to hear her thoughts on the key to a successful collaboration.

Creative Review: What prompted you to write Dear Client?
Bonnie Siegler: I’ve run my company for 25 years [Siegler founded Number Seventeen in 1993, before setting up multi-disciplinary studio Eight and a Half] and after about 18 or 19 years, I started to realise a lot of the same things [were] happening over and over. I also realised that I mostly love my clients, but there were people who I started out liking and then through the process, I wouldn’t like them any more. That seemed unfortunate because the client relationship is so crucial to the success of the project, so I started thinking, ‘maybe they just have no idea how we think, how we respond to things, what we need to do great work for them’ – because they clearly don’t want to jeopardise the process, they’re not assholes – so what was it? I decided to write this to sort of teach them from our perspective, which will benefit them, because the better the job goes, the better the work is.

I had the idea and knew it was good, but I was too insecure to write it, so I procrastinated for about three years and then I decided I had to do it or someone else was going to – and I would be really pissed [if they did].