Behind the Scenes / Rejected Work & Dealing with Criticism

Many moons ago I was fresh out of design school and desperately trying to prove myself as a junior designer. I knew what looked good, and I understood design principles and typography – but everything I made sucked. It never looked right, and it was frequently met with an “ehhhh….” or an “ummmmm….” (sorry to my early Creative Directors). It was humbling, frustrating, and also incredibly strengthening. Criticism can cut us to our core, but if we let it mortally wound us, we will never get stronger. Flash forward ten years later and I still regularly deal with criticism, but I’ve learned to be professional. Listen, take note and let go.

Here are my tips for dealing with client feedback in any creative small business. No matter what you make, these tips will help turn not-so-great client feedback from crippling to productive:

  • Breathe. Before you get emotional, think about the investment your client is making. They have high standards. Think about how scary it might be to trust someone with your vision, much less your business.
  • Listen to their feedback and give yourself and internal check. Are the issues they’re bringing up things you noticed or should have noticed? Remember it for next time.
  • Be open and positive.
  • Understand that you can’t read minds. The client is helping you understand how to create the perfect solution by giving you feedback.
  • If you don’t understand what they want, tell them you don’t understand. It’s ok! There is nothing wrong with needing more information.  Ask them to show visual examples. Ask questions. Don’t pretend you know.

Not every one of my logos is a perfect fit for the client, and I don’t always hit a homerun on the first try. I am happy to say, though, that I certainly hit more than I used to! Today, I thought it would be interesting to show some recent logos that didn’t make the first cut. The fun part is, I get to reveal the finished product for all of these brands soon!


CuttingRoom-01 CuttingRoom-03CuttingRoom-02  CuttingRoom-04

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