Michael Bierut on Clients

Michael Bierut is a partner at the mighty Pentagram Design in New York. His client list includes Alliance for Downtown New York, Benetton, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Alfred A. Knopf, the Walt Disney Company, Mohawk Paper Mills, Motorola, MillerCoors, the Toy Industry Association, Princeton University, Yale School of Architecture, New York University . . . the list goes on and on.

Posted above is a presentation Michael gave at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn last month, a very honest, direct and humorous talk on the topic of clients. Good clients, bad clients, the traits of both, keeping good ones, getting rid of bad ones, etc. I found Michael’s points of view on the topic of clients extremely sobering, to the point of my feeling the need to change how I conduct Signalnoise in order to find those connections with clients needed to, not get rich, but to do good work with good people.

This is a video all designers should watch whether you are a seasoned veteran or a student. It’s a short 50 minutes, and well worth the time. Please have a watch, and please pass this on.






5 responses to “Michael Bierut on Clients”

  1. Tom Miatke Avatar
    Tom Miatke

    Very cool video, and he is actually funny haha… But he does make some very good points about working with GOOD clients. :) I like

  2. Jim MacLeod Avatar

    James, thanks for that link. It was a very informative video. Especially the part about how doing bad work for bad clients leads to more bad work from more bad clients. It’s like quicksand.

  3. Ron Avatar

    Not surprisingly, you can swap ‘designer’ with ‘animator’ and ‘client’ with ‘producer’ and everything he says is applicable in the same manner. The relationship between designer and client is very similar to that of the animator and the producer. I’ve often refereed to producers as the necessary evil needed to make production happen. You’d rather they did not be involved in the process, and yet the work wouldn’t even exist without them.

    The best experiences are those few times you work with a producer who you DO see eye-to-eye with and have common creative goals as to how the product needs to be developed and produced. Then you always want to work with that producer on future projects. Just like the tug-of-war between designer and client. It can be very rewarding or very stressful… sometimes even both.

  4. […] A stellar talk from Pentagram partner Michael Beiruit on Clients, posted on James White’s blog […]

  5. Tim Jones Avatar

    Solid advice and a great perspective on clients. Some interesting points that I’ll always remember and start practicing. Cool man Thanks.

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