In his book “The Dilbert Principle,” cartoonist Scott Adams shares some wisdom that resonates with those in pursuit of an artistic life: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
Pursuing success in creative fields comes with more than an abundance of failures, mistakes, and anxiety-ridden expectations of the artistic self. Often, we mask these apparent missteps in an attempt to appear as infallible masters of our craft.
In efforts to stay focused and productive, Sioux Falls comic artist Dylan Jacobson presents his nerves and creative bloopers directly to his viewers through vlogging, blogging, and the very work that he creates. Dylan’s honesty about the hardships of creating brings a sense of humanity and approachability to the artistic career. ~Jordan
Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about rejection, communication, and the importance of contracts. By now you might be exhausted. I assure you we’re nearly done. Before I set you free to go sell your work we need to cover what goes into your contracts.
So, you’ve been honing your craft for at least a week. That’s great! But, before we get into successfully landing a client, let’s go down the dark road of rejection. Sometimes potential client expectations don’t match up with their budget and what you can offer. Don’t undercut yourself. If you have an hourly rate, stick to it. They’re good to have as a base to build from. If you know your rate can’t go lower, if you can’t rework the scope of the project, respectfully walk away. As Travis puts it, “if a client approaches you for something you can’t do, or are not comfortable doing, refer someone else. It builds community and a relationship with the potential client. Never turn away a chance to make a connection.” Be honest and forward with a potential client at all times. It’s better to turn them away than upset or disappoint them.
Pro Tip: Jeffrey mentioned, “they don’t see the years of struggles, tears, breakdowns and rejections.” It can be hard, but remember that you have a different perspective on your work and educating clearly is very important. And keep this in mind, too: “The phrases ‘Never make compromises’ and ‘the client is never wrong’ are both wrong. Find a balance. Clients are not money cows,” reminds Galacia Barton.
So the hunt is over, you have a client on the hook and it’s time to start working. Like us, you’re probably so hungry for work it feels like you’re starving. And that can lead you to making any number of mistakes.
If you’re ready to sell any of your work, you should have at least a strong idea of what you’re worth. Never undercut yourself. Before even considering numbers, get a grasp on the scope and expectation of the project. It won’t be uncommon for clients to be working on fixed budgets, so understanding their intentions will allow you to negotiate the cost effectively.
It’s not crucial to have the client lay down the first number, but it doesn’t hurt. And it can be easier to “tailor your skills to fit their range,” as Galacia says. Don’t be afraid to offer an augmented, or simplified service to accommodate what the budget is.
Tailoring isn’t always the resolve though. Unfortunately, powerful tools like the internet can hinder professional work with services that allow people to sell their skills for unimaginably low rates. This is where your knowledge of your work will put you in the role of an educator. Especially in the realm of digital artwork, clients can sometimes be blind to “the decisions and research that goes into great design,” says Travis Bentley. No matter what you’re doing digitally, teach your potential clients about your processes to show them exactly what they’re paying for.
All of this will help you build positive relationships with your client, and help you refine your audience. Your audience won’t always be idly viewing your work, think of them all as potential clients. In understanding your audience you’ll be ready for next week’s topic of client interaction.
Pro Tip: My animation client somehow got my contact information. I failed to inquire from whom. Always find out how someone found you. Know your audience.
Next in this article series is “Client Dealings and Contracts”. Stay tuned!
Art is about the passion. But it’s undeniable that the more we earn from it, the more we can focus on building it not only as a craft, but as a business. There are so many of us ramping up our artwork, we’re starting to reach out to turn it into commissions and other paid work.
Most potential clients work with me on comics or illustration projects, but recently I was approached about an animation project. My excitement over jumping into something I haven’t done in a while set me up for a sloppy client interaction. I was hungry for work and didn’t prepare myself for the best interaction. This mentality isn’t uncommon.