Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Learning how to say no

Today I received a very nice e-mail from a terrific non profit group that wanted to know if I was interested in helping them with a logo design. When I first started this business 11 years ago I thought I really had to say yes to every request that came across my desk from a non profit. It seemed to me that if I was truly going to be devoted to my 4-legged subjects that it would be wrong to not help small orgs even when I may not be the best person for the task at hand.
The reality is that logo design work is hard. Getting it right is hard for seasoned graphic designers and twice as hard for a fine artist like myself. Many times people think they want a terrific animal image or wonderful furry mascot incorporated into their logo. A pro will be able to explain to them the realities of how many places that logo will need to look good. Is it simple and clean enough to work on a business card, web banner, small magazine ad, and so on. A good logo really needs to say a lot with what looks like very little effort.  

Anyway if you are an artist reading this I know at some point someone has or will ask you to illustrate a children's book for them, create a logo, or design a website.  It can be very hard to explain to people that you may not be the best person for the job, but it is important that you learn how to do that sooner than later.  Below is my e-mail letter. It was very hard to write as I hate saying no, but it is better than creating a logo that I know would not be the best solution for them.

"Thank you so much for the kind words about my work. Unfortunately I will have to pass on the logo work.  Creating logos stresses me out beyond words. A logo is such a crucial and important part of any business or organization. It is very hard to get it just right. In the last 11 years I have reworked my own logo 3 or 4 times. I just honestly do not feel that logos are the sort of design work that I am good at. I would encourage you to try to find a local designer, not an artist, but a graphic designer that you can meet with in person. A skilled graphic designer will be able to create something for you that will look good in print, on the web, and in a variety of formats.
Best of luck and thank you again for your interest in my work."


Gail said...

I know just how you feel! Been there, done that, and got several t-shirts. It's not a nice feeling when you have to say no, but a necessary one.

Gail x


Thank you for posting about this. I always say that I have "the disease to please," as Oprah calls it. I'm *slowly* getting better at saying no, or at least at finding some sort of compromise. For example, I get asked (as I'm sure you do, too) to donate work to charity auctions A LOT. There is one philanthropy super-close to my heart that I always do this for, but beyond that, I have to watch it or I'll be working for free all the time. Once, I agreed to donate a small painting only if the auction organizers would BUY one of my existing paintings to also auction off. It worked....Recently, I sold a gift certificate for a commissioned portrait. I clearly stated on there "ONE pet." Don't ya know the recipient of the g.c. asked me to put two pets in the portait....It's SO hard to say no.

Sheila FInkelstein said...

Great letter, Rebecca, and I'm glad you were still saying "yes" when you designed my first site... almost 9 years ago:) (Of course, we didn't get into logo design!)