Do Your Clients Treat You Like a Goddess or Like a Doormat?

Business clients have differing temperaments; at least a van Gogh brings you Sunflowers!
Business clients have differing temperaments; at least a van Gogh brings you Sunflowers!


You probably categorize your clients (within your mental filing cabinet) according to degree of difficulty, don’t you? Of course you do – so do I! Just like clients, famous artists are on a sliding scale of temperament and maintenance needs. Why not join these two groups of people together for identification purposes?

For your professional use (and amusement), may I present: the Client Realistic & Artistic Protocol (aka CRAP). Just think of yourself as an art gallery owner and proceed to the next piece in your current exhibit…


A Van Gogh Is Sensitive, Soulful, and Impulsive (So Hide All the Knives): We all know that Vincent van Gogh was an emotionally unstable artist with a nervous temperament. But when he went to Paris in 1886, his somber palette lightened up. He then created some of the most breathtaking images in a short span of time before his untimely death. I’ll always be a sucker for Sunflowers…

Don’t be surprised if your van Gogh clients call or text you at off-hours with creative ideas for that website, business plan, or other project you’re working on. These peeps can be unpredictable at times, but if you demonstrate sincere kindness, they will (gratefully) use your services exclusively. Anticipate your van Gogh client’s needs by returning voicemail, text, and email messages sooner rather than later…

A Picasso Will Love You Passionately (For a While) and Then Hire Someone Else: Yes, Pablo Picasso was one of the great modern artists and Cubist painters of all time, whether or not you liked his Blue period. But here’s what he told his 21-year-old mistress, Francoise Gilot, in 1943 (at age 61):

“For me there are only two kinds of women, goddesses and doormats.”

Your Picasso clients will bond quickly with you. They will be loyal, generous and even affectionate, when it suits them. And then they’ll move on – so be ready when it happens! If from the start this breed of client abuses you either verbally or financially, don’t resign yourself to doormat status. Take Dionne Warwick’s advice and Walk On By.

A Pollock Will Leave You Unsettled (and Throw Empty Booze Bottles at You): I’m the first to admit that my eye is drawn to Paul Jackson Pollock’s spectacular, abstract expressionist drip paintings. This artist suffered for his fame as a reclusive, volatile soul who drank enough to piss off American heiress Peggy Guggenheim from time to time. Many articles and books about Pollock hypothesize he may have been bipolar (uh oh).

Because your Pollock clients don’t say much, getting feedback from them is the equivalent of asking a mime to verbally answer your questions in public. If you can handle working with this lonesome, restless cowboy (or girl), then “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

A Cassatt Is a Straight Shooter Who Will Loyally Champion You: Mary Cassatt was associated with Impressionism and also good friends with Edgar Degas. At the height of her artistic abilities, she had a deep affection for painting ‘everyday’ mother-and-child scenes. To her credit, the well-off Cassatt purchased other artist friends’ paintings when they needed financial help. Given the era in which she lived, she wasn’t considered a quiet, demure gal. Just my cup of bohemian American artist tea!

While this type of client isn’t always politically correct, once convinced of your professional talents, s/he will proclaim them to all others in her universe. Keep your Cassatt clients close to your heart; they will come back to you again and again.


Which famous artists remind you of some of your own clients? If you could match up your best and worst clients with other well-known artists, who would you select and why? You don’t have to share any actual client names, so have some fun with this creative exercise…

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her ( for a no-obligation project quote today!

4 Responses to Do Your Clients Treat You Like a Goddess or Like a Doormat?

  1. Lori, this is brilliantly creative, funny and so on the mark! I loved it! It reminds me of a college English project in which I turned Shakespeare characters into high school students and wrote a teacher’s commentary on all of them.

    • Hi Jackie,

      Thank you for being a constant reader – sometime this year, I do intend to add email subscription capabilities to my blog.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this “artistic” business endeavor – it was indeed meant to inform and entertain you. Your college English project sounds like a rollicking good time! Methinks perhaps to glean some business lessons from the Bard himself in a future blog post?


        • Jackie: Again, thank you so much for being a dedicated By All Writes Moonlight Blog reader. I’ll add Mr. Shakespeare to my editorial calendar’s ‘pending’ blog post list…