A few notes from Paula Scher’s book Make It Bigger

I quickly learned that the judgements made about graphic design in corporations, institutions, and organizations composed of more than one decision maker often have little to do with the effectiveness of a given design in the marketplace and more to do with how human beings naturally behave in complicated hierarchical social situations.

A fundamental reason for why a lot of “good” design work doesn’t make it out of the gate.

It might seem like an arrogant statement, but the fact is that a designer cannot accomplish anything of import by working for a weak client. The relationship is pointless, even if it exists purely to obtain the design fee. The fee will probably be cut, or the amount of time expended on the job will wipe out the fee.


That last part is important. At the end of the day, you should be fairly compensated for the work you’re doing. Focusing solely on the output while ignoring the hours spent might massage your ego but it’s a bad habit in the long run.

In most corporations or institutions, the designer faces the ultimately compromising task of selling up. […] In the process of selling up, most objections to a design are expressed as “marketing concerns.” Marketing concerns are usually design-punishing reactions such as not liking a particular color or type choice, or thinking an image is “too” something (you fill in the blank). Designs that are “too” something are usually strong—maybe even edgy—and tend to be scary to people on first viewing. What most scares people in a corporation is a design that looks too far afield from other things like it in the marketplace (which is ironic, because the point of design in the marketplace is to identify and differentiate).