Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Working with Your Artist By Phone

Color me your color, baby.
Color me your car
Color me your color, darling.
I know who you are
Come up off your color chart
I know where you're coming from
Call me (call me) on the line
Call me, call me any, any anytime
Call me(call me) I'll arrive
You can call me any day or night
Call me! 
– Blondie

"Come up off your color chart
I know where your coming from" ... 

                  well not always, I do not always know where you are coming from.

Today's post is about the importance of communication when working with a designer or artist. 
I hope other artists will read it and find some valuable tips here, I also hope my clients will read it and understand why I am so picky about needing a phone call on design revisions.

Why a phone call for design change requests?

#1 Accuracy: E-mails are usually jotted off quickly and I skim them even more quickly which means I can miss something important. With a phone call I can ask very specific questions about the needed changes and it is really important when those changes concern color ... your kiwi green may be my olive green, and they may be two totally different shades.

#2 Respect and Relationship building: When I have worked hard on  a project and changes are needed that project becomes a collaboration. It is important to me that my clients understand that I am a person, an artist, and not simply a nameless service provider that is pushing buttons on the other end of some internet thread. By speaking with my clients by phone I enjoy the process a lot more and do not feel like I am just doing cart wheels, crossing fingers and hoping to please. I can explain to them the different possible design solutions to the issue they are wanting changed and I can get their feedback so I better understand their vision. With a phone call I can give my clients the respect they deserve and they can in turn respect my input and ideas about their project and where we can take it with new design time.

Policies and Procedures:

At Art Paw I try to always send a terms sheet to new clients that states my revision policy and the need to call with change requests. I also put that within the body of my proofing letter so people get the information twice. Still, clients often choose to shoot me their change ideas by e-mail. We have become a society that only wants to text and e-mail. It seems that people just do not like using the phone. If you are an artist reading this, keep in mind that it is your job to manage your business and sometimes that means managing your clients. Not in a negative way like they are cats that you are trying to herd or subordinates that need to be kept in line ... you need to manage them in a very positive way that manages "the process" so they do not become frustrated with you and you do not become frustrated with them.

Follow through:
My final step after a phone call conversation is to type up my notes that I took and e-mail them to my client asking them to review. I do this in the form of a bullet list. That way they see what we talked about and if I missed anything or misunderstood anything they have one last opportunity to correct me or remind me of any issues I did not write down. Then I print it out and use this list when I go back to the project to make changes. This way I have a very complete and formal process for doing design changes and there are no surprises. Everybody can be on the same page and know what to expect.

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