The blog of Hannah Robinson, artist, illustrator and graphic designer.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Tuesdays - and the Artiste Complex...

Recently I was commissioned to do this zine-ish publication for St. John's in Peterborough. They wanted something interesting to give to visitors, to encourage them along to their events. I played around with drop shadow to create a 3d feel, but in the end the request for more colour meant the impact was lost somewhat, but I'm happy with the end result, and so is the client. Which is what really matters! Talking of which...

Customer is always right?

I sat in the pub recently with a friend of mine for whom I've done a few bits of work. One flyer in particular she let me go nuts with, and I hope it isn't big headed to say I was delighted with the result. At the same time I produced a poster for a children's holiday club, and was talking to my friend about how they'd requested it to be 'even more colourful', and asked me to have a different colour for each line of text. This request made me wince slightly, but I did it. My friend asked me how I felt about the final poster.
I shrugged. 'They liked it a lot, which is what matters most.'
She raised her eyebrows. 'I'd love for you to talk to a couple of my friends who are designers. They really don't like it when people ask for changes and get quite uptight about it.'

I can see where these friends are coming from, but I think it's very important to make sure you don't get too attached to your work, and are open to requests for changes. In fact, if you want to embark on a career as an illustrator or graphic designer, it's essential. Things will often get sent back maybe 5 or 6 times, (if you're lucky, but for bigger jobs it can run into double figures) and sometimes you will be asked to amend or delete an element you have grown really proud of.

There are ways you can get round this though, if the customer requests a change that you just don't think will work. 

Firstly, always have a go at what they want. If you don't try it, you won't be able to articulate your concerns as well.

Then, quickly mock up an alternative version that you think works better. Send the client both, and explain to them politely the concerns you have with their request, and how about they reconsider? That way your customer is able to physically see why your idea may work better for them. I used to be more timid about telling a client if I had reservations. Some of the most common problems I or my illustrator mates have had to tackle are:

  • Being sent way too much copy - result: finished product looks cramped, and the impact is lost.
  • Being asked to make things 'more colourful' (I get this a lot, serves me right for being an illustrator who loves bright colours. This one can ensure groans of frustration when I've carefully selected a kick-ass limited colour palette)
  • Getting sent photos and being asked to lay text over the top - Aaaaaaargh no.

I'm sure there are more. But these days I'm more confident about raising these issues with clients, and nine times out of ten they are grateful for your input. That's why they turn to designers in the first place - because they want a creative, yet clear outcome.

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