I Like You, But You’re Crazy / Picking Clients: A famous designer once said: “Doing good work with good people will lead to more good work with more good people. Doing bad work with bad people will only lead to more bad work with more bad people” Another famous designer also said, “There are no bad projects.”
Its often hard to decide when to take and when to pass on a project. In a tough economy passing on any job could be a substantial loss of income which is necessary to keeping your business going. What do you base your decision on? The project itself? The people involved? How much you will be paid?
Each factor is very important. And, given the particular circumstances one may trump the other one time and vice versa the next. I recently accepted a project where the pay was good, the project was good but the people ended up being not so good. When it comes to people there’s no real way of knowing a good relationship from a bad one right away. But in a business where relationships are often times the most important thing its key to develop a quick sixth sense on potential future clients. In this particular instance the client made unreasonable demands that did not respect my own creative process, assumed too many creative decisions on their own and on top of that weren’t afraid to be slightly insulting at times.
For most people these red flags might scream instantly to “get out”. However, we need to also be realistic in knowing that we’re not always going to enjoy every person we meet. There will be clients who drive us crazy and those who are a true pleasure. So, what it comes down to is, will this project, and this relationship yield a good finished piece. Will they help me promote my business and grow or will I be stagnate on the hours, days and weeks I work to finish this project? Getting a sense of these questions will help determine if the project is right and worth your time.
I’ve had the good fortune of working with some amazing clients and collaborators. People who are really passionate about what they do and how its created. That foundation has allowed me to see the contrast when I encounter someone who is something less than the qualities you’re hoping for. Often times its quite subtle but when you’re used to a great working relationship your gut will hopefully signal a warning bell, even if its very faint. Listen to it and tread with caution. So far its worked for me and I’ve avoided a disaster or two because of it.
The most rewarding aspect of graphic design for me is creating something for a client that captures their passion for what they do in a visual way. I find that is at its easiest when the client and you are like minded. I’d sooner start redesigning my logo, business card or website in the hopes of finding more of those rewarding experiences than getting paid by someone who will keep that feeling away from me. But maybe thats just me…