shouldIOmatic

Well, That was Unexpected…

I make small and medium sized mistakes all the time.  Usually an apology and correcting the end result fixes things.  However, every year I make one BIG mistake. One that causes me to doubt my intelligence and decision making processes.  Usually the mistake cannot be fixed by anything but time, because it damages my reputation or relationship with a person/organization in some way.

PokingBears

It is still insanity, even with the slight differences.

You would think that I would learn from past behavior and results.  You would think I would remember to ask “Should I do this?” more often.  Since that question would keep these mistakes from answering.  I kind of learn.  I change small things.  This time I used a “stick” instead of poking the proverbial bear with my finger. The bear was also different from the last one I poked.  The thing is, I still poked a bear.  They do not like it.

This time I was able to take action and removed the trigger.  Hopefully that helps.  I also apologized and detailed the steps I took and would take to prevent it from happening again.  I even used the proper apologizing format!

I apologize for (action).  I realize it (the result.)  In the future I will (ways to prevent action from happening again.)

shouldIOmatic

It is still insanity, even with the slight differences.

Any Positives from this?

Not really.  Just some art.  I do not have faith that I will retain the experience and not do it again.  So says my past behavior.  There is only a small chance that my next BIG mistake will be something entirely new.

 

I win. You win. It is All Good.

Recently one of my clients (graphic design client) was going to make a really bad decision, based off of some really bad advice.  What is a person to do?

1. Remain polite, controlled and logical.  I was informed by email, so I took some time to reason out the problem and sent a “calm” (I was NOT calm when I was writing it.  They will never know that though.) and logical email detailing why the idea was REALLY bad. Be very detailed, what bad things are associated with the bad idea and will the target audience go there.   I also made sure to include a solution to the problem.  That is problem solving 101.

2.  Plan for a rebuttal.  Yep they replied, with a sales pitch not even why their idea was better!  I do not think they really read my initial response.  No one really reads anymore, it is so sad.  But since I planned ahead for the obvious “you are wrong” reply I was ready.

3. Reply, a bit less polite, but still professional, logical and remind them who the subject matter expert is.  They are paying you for your expertise after all.  I, again, laid out the problem and (almost) word by word explained why their idea was bad.  I laid out why my idea was better.  I even gave them some room to play and “improve” my idea so it would work with their plans “better.”

4. Plan for the rebuttal.  I got lucky.  The head cheese read my email (someone who READS!! whole emails too.)  And they agreed with me.  I did not have to rebut.  I did have one planned though.  I was going to put my foot down as the subject matter expert and pull my support for the event graphics (risky but I am working on this for “free.”)

In the end I won, which means my client won and everything is good.

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I do not think you can win enough.  The problem is learning which battles are worth fighting over.  I know most people with think something like a event title is a small thing.  It is not.  It is the foundation of the event, the corner stone.  This is what people will remember the event by.  Search engines will take the words and title and show people this.  Titles are important.

 When you are working with a client and they are going to do something that damages their “name” or brand, it is your responsibility as the subject matter expert to stop them.  If something is going to hurt their name and your name is on it, you get hurt too.  All credibility down the tube because you would not stand up for your craft.

I am a very “go with the flow” type of designer.  If the client wants it, I will do it.  Obviously that comes within a limit.  I am not on your team because I am a pretty face or a good chair filler.  I am on your team to provide you with a service that you cannot do or choose not to do.   When the laid back person tells you something is a bad idea, you might want to listen. Just because I go along with most of the ideas and plans does not mean that I am going to let you damage your image (and mine.)

Certain things work in graphic design and others work well in TV and still others work well in newspapers or on the internet.  Using buzz words is great to snag the TV, radio and internet video watcher, but they are not always going to work in newspapers or on internet articles.  Buzz words do not work in graphic design, when the template is already made and the words cannot be highlighted appropriately.  However if you use a good graphic with intelligent words and the buzz words in your hash-tags and descriptions, you have a balance and that is what will get you the best results. 

I think people forget that the words they see in a .JPG or .PNG image are not searchable.  The only thing that is searchable about the image is what you have called it, the alternative title and any description you have provided.  As the designer it is your job to know this, and any other rules and regulations that might affect your client (copyright laws specifically.)

In summary:

*Stand your ground when it matters, and make sure you win by being prepared.

*Remember that anything bad that happens to your client because of your cowardice shows on your portfolio.

*Take the time to know your client and the clients audience.  If you can show that and idea or action will damage their target audience you will probably win.

*Have a solution ready!

Winning is good.

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Taking Advantage of the Creative

I am not sure if it is a trait among the creative, but it has been pointed out to me several times that creative people “let” themselves be taken advantage of.  This can be from working long hours with little or no pay or being asked to do things that are not quite in our job description (like a graphic designer taking photos for a client.)

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Stressed-Out Artist by Izmack, DivantArt

I usually think that I am pretty conscious of what I am doing for people, when I do it  and what I am going to get in return.  There are times when I let my guard down, and those are the times I get myself in trouble.  Working long hours is bad for the body, mind and interpersonal relationships.  The work suffers and, because I failed to say “no,” the relationship with the customer suffers.  Bad for everyone.

So what can we, the trusting artist, do?  I am not really sure.  Run all your projects or clients by someone who is more aware or immune to charm?  That seems like it is going a bit far.  I like the idea of being self sufficient when possible and knocking more than one thing of a list at a time. 

My solution is scheduling and a solid support structure.  If you have a schedule with all of the projects outlined you will see when you have to say “no” to stay within you time constraints.  This will show the client that you know your limitations and are not willing to over book yourself and allow the quality of work to suffer. If you have a long standing relationship with the client they may give you the project at a later time, to fit with your schedule. 

ImageSkipping a new project to allow yourself to do a good job on a current project may be a good thing for you.  Less stress and more time to explore and hone your skill.  This is better than doing the same things over and over, killing whatever passion you had.

The schedule will also show you how much you are doing each day and help with future projects.  From personal experience, I can say that when I get creating and am really interested in what I am doing, I can loose track of time.  I know that I can go for four to five hours at a time, with few breaks.  I usually do not stop until I am done.  I can write down my start time and end time each session to learn my patterns and figure out how much time it takes me for each project.  Handy for billing, and learning my peak productivity times and conditions.

People you trust implicitly are important too.  If you know anyone that “gives it to you straight” all the time, you might want to ask them if you are being taken advantage of.  Friends and family want the best for you and can be a big help when it comes to seeing beyond the charm others have.

In the end, I do not think that the trusting artist is ever going to avoid being abused by clients.  Only friends and family (managers and agents) can help protect you.  Do you best by being aware of your time and build a solid support structure.  Do frequent reality checks, and keep creating.

 

 

 

Stuck!

Oh, the frustration of being stuck on a problem.  It can be a personal problem, work problem or code problem.  It seems once you are stuck it is impossible to get out of the pit.

Right now I am stuck.  I am so stuck that I feel like giving up on this program I am creating.  This is one of those projects that sounded simple to begin with.  Once I started taking users and their propensity to create errors, the project got very complex.  Not to mention that working with data types like DateTime can be a bit taxing.

What to do…

Well, I am not going to give up.  I will take a break for a few hours.  When I start up again I am going to break down my problem and hopefully that will help me solve it.  This process works for all types of problems, personal and creative.

Being stuck is more that just mentally taxing.  It also effects your mood and physiology.  Just like the normal stresses of your job can change your mood getting stuck on a problem can make your mood worse due to the added stress of having to find a solution to the problem.

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Finding a solution before your day is ruined is probably the best thing you can do.  Hunting for solutions is its own nightmare.  There is so much data online that it is possible to spend all your time reading about things that are not going to help you solve your problem.  They may even give you ideas and make the problem worse as you try out the ideas (this is what I am going through.)

Every site, every book, every note taken is a step towards solving the problem.  It just takes time. Especially if it is something you are learning. 

I keep telling myself to have patients.  Strip the problem to the bare bones and find where the problem is.  Focus on that problem and find the solution.  Practice, Practice, Practice.  Everything is practice.

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Thank you for checking out my rant.  Go out there and make some mistakes!