Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Dear Bonnie: Cleveland to Concord

Dear Bonnie,

What do you think of clients who don’t allow you to use the work you design or even the name of the company to promote yourself?

Confuzzled in Cleveland

Dear C.,

I think they are absurd. This sort of client likes to pretend that their work was done by magical elves, rather than real people. Why they think this makes them look better is beyond me.

Most clients are not like this. In fact they are proud that you would want to show the work you did for them. It reassures them that you were not a yes-designer (as in yes-man but for designers. I just made that up). If you suspect that your new client may have these tendencies, I would mention the fact that you put all of your work on your website up front. Part of the way we get work is through our portfolios and by denying you the use of said work they are effectively costing or depriving you of future income. If they balk, then you know you can charge them more money, because clients with too much money are more likely to make this request, and the only way this deal is remotely acceptable is if they compensate you with too much money. 

Dear Bonnie,

How do you know when it’s time to change companies/paths/jobs?

Anxious in Allentown

Dear A.,

You know it is time to make a change when making a change is almost all you think about. When you spend all day thinking about possibilities, about choices you made in the past, about what would have happened if you took a different path, about what you thought your life would be like when you were younger, about needing to feel appreciated more than you are, about knowing you have more to offer, about the speech you would make if you were to really do it, and about how you would feel the next day.

And when you close your eyes and pretend you’ve moved on, do you feel relief, happiness, and hope for the future? Fear is often our biggest obstacle, and often the fear is of change itself, but if you are suffering from all of the above symptoms, afterwards, you will wonder what took you so long.

Dear Bonnie,

My boss kills projects before anyone else ever gets to see them, again and again. The other designers here are the only ones who ever see this work. I know the work is good and I’m tired of having things shot down before they get a chance to be seen. My question is how can I go around my boss when I’m really confident about a design?

Confident in Concord

Dear C.,

Along the lines of my answer to Anxious in Allentown, if you are spending your time thinking about how to go around your boss, it may be time to leave your boss. But before you do, you should have a very serious talk with her. She may have no idea you feel this way, or that she is interfering with your creativity and frustrating the team. Begin by giving her the benefit of the doubt. If she does realize that she is the obstacle, maybe you can get a better understanding of what she is looking for and why so many projects get blocked. It’s crazy how much one single conversation can change everything. 

Then again, if nothing comes of this conversation and the wall remains, it may be that the door is the best path for you, on your way to another job. 

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