Readers, today I had to let down a client. And by client I also mean dear friend. I do not feel good about this.
She’d commissioned me to do some art work for her – she has her own coaching business. She loved my work and wanted to incorporate it into her website and downloadable planner. She wanted me to have free reign so my creativity could flow. And she quite liked the doodle type illustration as a style. Having dabbled in that sort of thing ages ago, for about 5 minutes, I felt confident I could pull it off. Plus, this girl is one of my biggest supporters and has bought a LOT of my art. Not quite the shrine my mother has in her dining room (like my own personal gallery, 6 pieces of actual canvas no less, that she bought from my first pop up shop. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry), so I wanted to do a good job for her. Prove I was the fabulous artist she thought I was.
Me, being me, did not sit back and think about all this, and I didn’t recognise at the time that really this was a branding exercise. We hadn’t even had a face to face discussion about it, as I cancelled our last get together as I was sick.
So I’ve spent this week exploring her ideas in an illustrative style and what I’ve ended up with is something that looks like my dog did it. I mean, it just looks so basic. Actually worse than that it looks baaaaad. It’s not ideas or the concept I’m struggling with, it’s…….the execution. I actually do not have the skill in this area folks. There we go, I said it. I just learned a huge lesson – I know where one of my creative limitations is at. Like a musician that can play a few instruments but not all, being an artist is comparable. Illustration is just so unnatural for me. I couldn’t draw a cute flower if I tried. I need a reference. And then I’d want to paint it in a painterly style. Being an illustrator, or a graphic designer is a specialism in it’s own right, just like fine art is for me.
What was hard for me, and took several miserable, chocolate fuelled hours at my desk to comprehend, was that I wasn’t going to be able to pull it off, and for the first time EVER say to someone (that’s not one of my kids, they don’t count, I say it all the time to them) “I can’t do this for you, “, gulp. After a
long little spell of negative thinking at the end of which not only was my friend hating me but the entire world hated all my art anyway (apart from my mum), I realised I had to put my big girl pants on.
So I got on the phone and was honest with my friend who made it so easy for me as she’s one of the nicest people. She didn’t say “WHAAAAAAAT? You’ve been dragging your arse on this since December and now you say you can’t draw a flower? And you hate watercolour? ” Nope. She said “Don’t worry”. And she meant it. I mean, obviously she would have preferred it if I’d been able to produce something she could use, but she was so understanding about the whole thing.
So, when we meet later this week for our usual coffee/massive breakfast feast off, we have this whole business/web branding/design style issue to go over, and hopefully I can help her with what to think about even if I can’t actually do the work.
The lesson here is: think before saying yes to everything. And always pick nice people as friends.