10 Commandments for Clients

Many years ago I rewrote the 10 Commandments but for clients of designers. As it goes with personal projects it sat on my list of things to do for 7 or 8 years before I got around to doing it! I invited 10 of my very favorite lettering artists to participate with me and together we created artwork for a cover, and each of the 10 commandments.

Cover art by Nim Ben-Rueven

I’ve been a freelance designer for well over a decade and have worked with many clients. These relationships have been varied: some phenomenal, some functional, and a few… failures. In thinking about what makes some more successful than others it is clear to me that, just as with any relationship, the rules you establish at the beginning can be very hard to change later. As a freelance designer, you are your only advocate. Be clear about your rules, communicate well, and communicate often.

The 10 Commandments below, adapted for Clients, will provide the much needed guidelines which, if followed, will make all of you the exceptional Clients we know you can be. The ultimate goal is always to have a relationship of mutual respect for one another’s time, skills and knowledge.

These struggles are not unique to my path as a designer so I reached out to ten of the most talented freelance designers and lettering artists I know to each select and illustrate one commandment. These are people that I believe work carefully, deliberately and deliver the best work a Client could ask for.

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Make the Mural Bigger (Part 1) : The Grid Method

Do you any of you remember that amazing meme (back before we even knew the word meme) for Make the Logo Bigger?

Anyway, One of the most common questions I get from illustrators and lettering artists is how to translate their design to a wall. So here is the first in a series blog posts featuring different methods to go from design on a computer to mural on a wall!

One of the easiest ways to make your mural bigger is just to make a simple corresponding grid on the wall and on your design and use that to help keep you proportions and dimensions correct.

1) Get the exact dimensions of the wall you’ll be painting on. Be sure your design is proportional in comparison to the actual wall. Meaning if your wall is a 5:2 ratio of width to height be sure the design you’re mocking up is also a 5:2 ratio of width to height. If possible, get a straight on photo of the wall you’ll be painting on and layout your artwork on that photo.

My mockup with a grid super imposed
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Good Job Badass Brooklyn

Photo by Catalina Kulczar | Lettering by Dirty Bandits

You’re Doing a Good Job is made up of videos and stills with lettering incorporated. They all share the same positive message celebrating companies that are working to make a difference.

This is Barnaby, he’s a rescue and he’s just the best. I find it excruciating to see people purchasing dogs from breeders and puppy mills when there are so many incredible dogs that desperately need homes. Barnaby was named Fluffy and abandoned at a high kill shelter by his family. He was in South Carolina and scheduled to be killed within the next 24hrs if he hadn’t been picked up by Jersey Girls Animal Rescue and brought up to NY for adoption.

Photo by Catalina Kulczar

There are tons of places in New York and New Jersey to adopt dogs. I used petfinder.com to look for my new furry friend and was able to use a wider radius. But if you’re in Brooklyn, check out Badass Brooklyn : saving badass dogs from idiot humans. These guys are a Brooklyn based group that rescue dogs from kill shelters in southern states and bring them up for adoption in NY.

Good Job Adidas

Shot by Catalina Kulczar | Art direction & lettering by Dirty Bandits
Sound by Kind Stranger

From our series You’re Doing a Good Job we bring you this fun little stop motion video that tells to story of how this line developed by Adidas and Parley has come to make an environmental impact. Adidas partnered with the ocean cleanup org Parley to make shoes and clothing out of plastic bottles salvaged from beaches. Helping to keep our beaches cleaner, our oceans freer of plastic and our feet ready to run!

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You’re Doing a Good Job

These posts are all unsolicited, unpaid and unsponsored. I am doing this with Catalina Kulczar to share uplifting stories of companies doing good in the world. We are more than just a pretty image, we stand for something greater than ourselves and we support whole heartedly those working to create better work environments, more ecologically sound products, and foster a sense of belonging for all.

Lettering and animation by Dirty Bandits

In sitting down at the beginning of the year I set out to look at my business and think about where I was and where I wanted to be. I was feeling stagnant but what sort of change was I looking for? What projects had been the most rewarding? What was I the most proud of?

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You Are Not Alone Murals

This project is conceived of and curated by myself (Dirty Bandits) and Samantha Schutz, mental health advocate and critically-acclaimed author of I Don’t Want To Be Crazy. It includes a series of murals that read You Are Not Alone.

Annica and Samantha in front of the first mural in the series. Photo by Jackson Cook

There is nothing that brings me more joy than collaborating with friends. I am happiest in life when I’m being either productive, creative or social – collaborating on personal projects affords me all of those things at once! Personal projects like this have been the pillar of my entire career, allowing me to share more about myself and my interests than just design and typography.

This series was launched in May 2019 for Mental Health Awareness Month. See and read about all the murals.

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Who the hell has a blog in 2019?

Mural painted with Vexta in 2017 on my birthday after we attended a talk on dark matter.

For me, being a good designer means being a good story teller. As much as I love pretty pictures on Instagram and a solid design portfolio I couldn’t quite figure out where would be a nice place for me house all the stories? I can’t control my platform on Instagram and I’m constantly trying to keep my portfolio slim. The answer felt so obvious, a blog! I haven’t had a blog since 2006 and frankly, I miss it. 

On this blog I will share more of my process besides what you may catch a glimpse of on IG Stories, my tools and tips for other designers and illustrators, advice for freelancing, stories behind my personal projects and stories about my clients. 

Hopefully there will be something inspiring here for you at some point.