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Old 10-26-2009, 11:37 PM   #1
Ronald
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Default Plaque Design Problem

I’ve been asked to design a plaque for a chamber of commerce. This will be issued to all chamber member businesses. They wanted it to look similar to a nearby chamber’s design which is on gold metal plaque affixed to a wooden base. I loved my first design and so did everyone I showed it to; however, the director then noted that they want a design printed on paper and framed and therefore want lots of color, so my design was set aside (it will definitely go in my portfolio). Then a chamber employee had a “vision” for the plaque and wanted to take a photo for it, which the director consented. I finally got it a few months later and was told to use it in the design, without any stylization or filtering. I came up with some concepts, some using filtering, which were all turned down.

Despite her obvious lack of print/design knowledge, the chamber employee clearly has a lot of influence on the director who, after receiving my design concepts, basically listens to her and echoes her comments to me rather than allowing me creativity. I’ve designed a plaque at their specific request and am disgusted by the outcome. So, as seen below, I designed yet another of my own concepts using many of their requests but using my own photo (which shows more of the courthouse) and more sophisticated design principles. It was somewhat effortless and I really liked the outcome, but they again said they prefer their requested design and since they only want it on 8.5”x11”, I keep being told to make ALL the text bigger so customers will be able to see it from 11-15 feet away. The requirements include the following text:

- “Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce”
- “Chamber Member Since ___”
- “Serving the Surrounding Communities”
- All nine encompassing town names, which form beams of sunlight

Attachment 1545 Attachment 1543 Attachment 1544
My first "metal" design; my current favored design; chamber's requested design

As any designer knows, you can’t have very good emphasis if all text is huge. There must be hierarchy. And 8.5”x11” is so small to be entirely readable from behind a counter. I have not explained the faults of this to them yet but after receiving a recent email about it I will now. As a testament to her lack of knowledge - and to the potential cheapness of the chamber - the chamber employee even asked the director whether the 200+ plaques will be printed by the local printing company or simply at the chamber office (which as far as I know only has some basic desktop printers). The employee is an older woman and noted her interest in art but apparently never took the opportunity to explore it for a career. She seems to hold sentimental/personal value over the use of her photo which is hurting the integrity of the plaque design and preventing creativity.

The requested design has her photo and a sunbeam concept I used on a previous design; however, it makes no sense for the sun to be behind the building when the sunlight is hitting the steeple from the front, and the photo/text combination simply looks bad. Although still not entirely accurate to real lighting, it works better on my photo and cooperates better with the stylization. If they must use their requested design, I honestly do not want credit for its conception. I wish the director would favor the opinions of real graphic designers over a chamber employee, but how far can I push this? I want to you hear what you all have to say, as well as my aunt who owns her own graphic design business, then pass that on to the chamber director.

Last edited by Ronald; 08-15-2010 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:30 AM   #2
Benwiggy
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You need to give them reasons why what they suggest will not work well. You also need to make sure that these don't sound like excuses on your part.
Offer them the choice: "I can do what you ask, but it will not look as good because no one will be able to view it at 8.5 x 11. Is that what you want?"
Ultimately, they are paying you, so if they want rubbish, then you have to give it to them.

If you really feel strongly, you could give a form of ultimatum: "OK, I'll do what you want, but I do not want you to mention my name in connection with this." That might give them pause for thought.

Love the engraving, by the way.
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Old 10-28-2009, 01:53 AM   #3
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Her design looks very odd, the way the tower is cut off doesn't work at all. I second Ben's advice. I like yours - especially the second one (in colour).

You might find my post here relevant...
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Old 10-29-2009, 05:17 PM   #4
Ronald
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benwiggy View Post
You need to give them reasons why what they suggest will not work well. You also need to make sure that these don't sound like excuses on your part.
Offer them the choice: "I can do what you ask, but it will not look as good because no one will be able to view it at 8.5 x 11. Is that what you want?"
Ultimately, they are paying you, so if they want rubbish, then you have to give it to them.

If you really feel strongly, you could give a form of ultimatum: "OK, I'll do what you want, but I do not want you to mention my name in connection with this." That might give them pause for thought.

Love the engraving, by the way.
Thank you, Benwiggy. That approach is basically what I had in mind. If they keep insisting, even after I show what other people have said, I guess they're just too looney to listen and will get their request.

Quote:
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Her design looks very odd, the way the tower is cut off doesn't work at all. I second Ben's advice. I like yours - especially the second one (in colour).
Thank you for the compliments, Lois. To be fair, I composed it myself, but the overall look is what they requested. They seem to want it very simple but with huge text crowding it up. The woman even has 8.5x11" frames ready and is eager to get these printed. It seems like she's got a huge bias and wants her photo to be used so badly, regardless of how it hurts the overall design.

I was hoping a couple more people would post on here so I could get a good average. I wish we had a poll option on DTP so we could tally up the opinions...
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Old 10-29-2009, 06:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
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It seems like she... wants her photo to be used so badly
If this is the case, no amount of poll data will win her over. Figure out a way to use her photo in a better layout.

Client management is not about winning a design disagreement, it is about winning loyal clients. If you get on the wrong side of the client's admin, you'll lose the client quickly thereafter.

--don

   
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Old 10-30-2009, 01:38 AM   #6
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Is the design only to be used as a framed plaque or might it be also used on letterheads or advertising, etc?

If it is to be used in different contexts then they should consider it's reproduction in black and white as well as the cost of full colour printing in brochures, letterheads, and the like. The initial design is certainly more adaptable and would even survive the average fax machine or photocopier. I doubt the full colour version would.

   
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Old 10-30-2009, 09:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don Arnoldy View Post
If this is the case, no amount of poll data will win her over. Figure out a way to use her photo in a better layout.

Client management is not about winning a design disagreement, it is about winning loyal clients. If you get on the wrong side of the client's admin, you'll lose the client quickly thereafter.

--don
It's not about winning her over; she's just an employee who appears to have a strong influence on the director. The director is the one who needs to stop hanging onto her every word and realize the faults of their requested design as well as the credibility of my latest version.

The director even admitted that my new photo is superior when I first sent it to him. But once he got feedback from the employee, her comments seemed to automatically shape his opinion in the oposite direction. She had barely any influence on past projects, so it seems very evident that this whole photo issue is what's hurting the plaque and creating stern bias.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike View Post
Is the design only to be used as a framed plaque or might it be also used on letterheads or advertising, etc?
I'm pretty sure it's just for four-color member plaques. I can't see how it would be used in other ways.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:38 PM   #8
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I intend on speaking to the director about this matter this week. I'm thinking, if nothing else, I could propose that we show both of these designs to the actual chamber members - the businesses that will be hanging these on their walls - and let them decide which design they prefer.

In addition, I'd need to discuss the problem of the dimensions. Anyone I've mentioned this to has agreed that 8.5"x11" is simply too small.
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:50 AM   #9
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Is there a standard size for similar plaques (in other places or from other organizations)? Many times people used to offices just assume that 8-1/2 X 11 is some sort of general standard. Or they work out designs on the handy paper, which amounts to the same thing.

I seem to remember seeing square plaques; and have certainly seen some that were 10 X 14 inches, which is more generous.

   
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Old 11-02-2009, 03:21 PM   #10
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Not wishing to rub salt in you wounds, but these issues you are dealing with are typical of taking on design work without having a proper brief. You need to cross the i's dot the t's and get it in writing before even starting to think about designing anything. Which is a hard thing to do if you are a creative type (I'm speaking from personal experience)!

If you can get the chamber members in on this do, as they are the ones who are going to have the plaques on their premises. Though remember if you want to get more work from the chamber you have got to keep them happy.

Sometimes the client is right even if they are wrong...

   
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