Working with overseas clients - 6 pro tips

It's never been easier for you to export your design skills, but while technology has made it straightforward to work for a client on the other side of the world or even set up a studio in China, it can still be a fraught process if you're not prepared. We asked some leading creatives what they'd learned while doing business internationally.

Ken Lo

"Last year we worked with an American client, which was really tough as we are in Hong Kong and there's a big time difference. Each day we would submit our design at night (their morning), and they would feed back in their evening (our morning). Several times we had to stay in our office overnight, to have a conference call the next morning."

Ken Lo is a founder of Blow

Spencer Buck

"In a brief for a Russian client, one sentence got lost in translation, to the point that what they'd asked for was the exact opposite of what they wanted. We presented our idea and they were like 'What the fuck have you done?' We thought we'd met the brief exactly. It took a Russian and English speaking intermediary to sort it all out. Then, of course, it was all hugs, kisses and laughter."

Spencer Buck is a founder of Taxi Studio

Meredith Feir

"Customs can be a massive hurdle. One incorrect word written on a shipping invoice and important packages can be completely lost or abandoned. Each country has different requirements, so getting in all of the physical work needed to start judging for the ADC Awards, intact and on time, is quite a feat!"

Meredith Feir is awards manager at ADC Global

Jeremy Wortsman

"As artist agents, we like to think we are disaster prevention specialists - however, there have been a few interesting experiences at a cultural level, usually relating to money. There have been times where clients have wanted to pay for five-figure jobs on an AmEx card, and recently an agency for a major global brand would only pay for a job in cash, at the airport. That one didn't go ahead, thankfully."

Jeremy Wortsman is a director of The Jacky Winter Group


"Often, you will get a job that you will not be able to finish yourself. Once, I worked on a project that was painted by other people because I couldn't be there for the painting session. The final result wasn't what I expected - I guess I learned a lot from that."

Muxxi is an illustrator and character designer

Michael Wolff

"Our government have stupidly made it even harder for Russian business people to get visas to come to the UK, so we meet in Athens and in Barcelona where there's less hypocrisy and xenophobia."

Michael Wolff is a designer and creative advisor

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 226.

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