Twenty-ninth – my mother’s sentence…

In this assignment I need to comment on designer-client interaction recorded in Clients from Hell. This site lists short conversations between designers and their clients. Reading these conversations I have the feeling, I have already read them or a version of them before. I just cannot tell exactly from where or why they sound so familiar. Maybe because they resemble dialogues in an average+ tv comedy or because they make me associate to Central European Jewish jokes. In fact, there is one that uses one of my mother’s trade marked sentences. So this is what I chose to reflect on.

The situation is that a divorced pair of parents and their son requested portraits. The mother refused the designer’s (photographer’s?) original suggestion to take one photo together in complimentary outfits. After the pictures were taken separately of all three family members, the mother complained that the pictures needed to be retaken because the three are not seen together and she did not like how her breast looked in the shirt she chose to wear for the shooting. The first thing that I do not understand from the little conversation is what was exactly the job to be done. I collect that beyond taking those photos, the designer was also expected to do something with them and that he or she reminded the client that photos could be retouched, however for additional fee. We can gather from the conversation that before the shooting, the mother refused to have the pictures retouched. Hence, the mother’s complaint about the shirt she wore and her suggestion to “draw” another piece of clothing on her contradicted the previous agreement. This is the point where the designer introduces my mother’s sentence “Do you own a mirror?” and where I think, the question could be phrased a little differently. And I think, the answer to the designer’s next question, in which he inquired whether the client understood why he was interested in knowing whether she owned a device in which she could see her own reflection, justifies my comment. The divorced mother who only after seeing her own photo realized that she looked improperly did not understand what role could a mirror play in making her look on the photo better.

So again, I go to my mother’s example. I think this sentence is justifiably trademarked by her. She uses it in a much more effective way. She does not address it to those who, in her opinion, dressed up and left their homes as if they did not look into the mirror before closing the door behind them. She uses it rhetorically and only quietly when she points out to me people on the street. She knows that these people would not understand the correlation of appearance quality control and mirrors, hence she does not bother to stop them on the street to ask them. (It would be very weird to do so, but this is another issue.)

I hope, the above referred conversation between the mother and the designer ended on a positive note, and there was a mutual understanding of each other’s needs and tastes. I do not think that by merely pointing out to the client that they had no clue what they wanted can be helpful. I think, though it was not mentioned in the readings, a designer might not be in a position to get into the client head, but is definitely in the position to look further than the client and try to prepare for – I think, obvious – situations, where the client might not like the photos the designer was going to work with. It is part of experience in both design and people. While the first can be acquired while drawing and sketching and interacting with coffee and computer screens, in order to acquire the second one needs to get involved in the real world, which for the entertainment of the readers of Clients from Hell resembles television shows.

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