I love my clients. They pay me to do what I love for a living. However every here and there I deal with people that are so difficult, I cringe when I see their name on the screen of my ringing phone. I procrastinate over opening their emails, because I know I'll be deeply frustrated by what I read.
I believe that most annoying people don't actually know that they're being annoying... I don't think anyone intentionally aims for being a difficult client. I do think most irritating client behaviour arises from not knowing much about the creative process or how certain things can make it difficult.
Well dear client, this text is here to make your aware of things you can do to make our experience together as smooth as possible!
1. Don't try to have control over every single thing.
Think about it this way: you don't go to a nutritionist and tell them everything you're gonna have in your diet. In a similar way, if you've hired an artists, you shouldn't try to choose and control every little aspect of the artwork! An artist is someone that has a unique way of conveying emotion and meaning through visuals - if you are too restrictive, you are wasting our creative potential. You can seriously sabotage a piece of artwork if you're not creative and you are trying to get every little detail your way. Having said that, of course we want to make something you are 100% happy with, and suggestions are always welcome. Just keep an open mind and accept we can't reproduce exactly the image in your head. Also...
2. Do point us in the right direction.
We don't know you, your business, your audience, your passion, or whatever, as well as YOU do. So it's extremely helpful if you can fill in the gaps for us, and point us in the right direction. We'll do wonders with no boundaries, but it's helpful if you can give us information so we can make informed creative decisions. For example: if you own a restaurant and you want a mural, it's helpful if you can tell us about the sort of customers you cater to, your brand, the history of the place, etc.
3. Don't ask us to copy another artist's work.
It's great if you can give us examples of images that you like so we know what sort of look you're after. However, don't ask us to reproduce someone else's work/style. Every artist (myself included) has spent a lifetime perfecting their unique thing. We can't reproduce their art, even if we wanted to! Also, I personally am not comfortable appropriating someone else's work without their permission... If you want someone's artwork: go hire them.
4. Be honest, always.
So often I'll be half way through discussing a project with someone and they'll disappear and stop answering calls. Or I'll be nearly finished with a painting and the person will tell me they didn't like the composition from the start. Communication is important - and just a matter of being considerate! Found someone more suited to your needs? Just tell me. Don't like yellow? Say it. Hate the shit out of the sketch I sent you? Let me know. It'll save us all time (and consequently, money).
5. Pay attention to what you say & if you contradict yourself.
I often have issues with clients contradicting themselves: someone will say they want a painting done in pastel tones, and down the track complain that they wanted bright colours. We note every bit of feedback you give us (in writing) and we make sure we apply it. So if you contradict yourself later on, we know it: it's annoying. It's ok to change your mind, and we are pretty flexible - but please admit that you did, and think about the requests you make before you make them.
6. Pay attention to what we say & read before you reply.
I'll send someone a sketch and write: "This is just a really rough sketch so we can see if we are going in the right direction" And sure enough I'll get a reply that says: "I don't like the shape of the buttons" or some other comment about some really small detail!
So the person obviously didn't take into consideration what I said in the email! I often also ask questions in emails, and people just don't give me an answer in the reply. Just read the thing! Read it properly.
7. Just pay us the money. In time.
I shouldn't have to establish this. We have clear payment terms, you agree to them when you agree to work with us. Do you want to have me calling you every day? I don't either! I hate doing it! It's uncomfortable to call someone and have to pressure them and tell them they're being unreasonable and unprofessional. I want our ride to end on a bright note, not on me harassing you for cash. So let's avoid that!
So that's it! Easy enough, right?
Any questions, suggestions or random bursts of joy welcome in the comments below...