Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Indiana Jones and the Creative Process: What Kind of Creative Are You?

That's a pretty big question seeing as creatives come in many forms. You could be a musician, a writer, traditional painter or a graphic designer and illustrator like myself. But that's not what I'm talking about. Regardless of what specific creative you are, if you're providing a service with your creative skills, there's two kinds of creative you can be. But let me start with this statement and then break it down. (Harrison Ford will make sense, trust me.)

There's two kinds of designers. Those that get told by the client what to do and those that advise the client what not to do.

Creative #1: The Hired Hand
When things got tough on the farm and the work needed to get done yesterday, farmers would often hire a hand to help with the extra work. The hand would get paid at the end of the day and be on his way. Some creatives work this way as well. They get the rundown on what the client wants and the creative fills that want. This is usually followed by timeless revisions and headache-enducing phone calls. And sometimes comments like...

"We like high quality but as cheap as possible. Does that makes sense?"

"My cousin has Photoshop on his computer so he might do this for me at no cost. He said it’ll only take him about 20 minutes to put this together. So you're a bit expensive after all."

Creative #2: The Indiana Jones Creative
We've all seen the movies. Indy takes us to exotic places and expertly tells us what everything is, how it got there, and basically keeps us from killing ourselves through his adventure. For example, I didn't know people ate chilled monkey brains for dessert, but that's a whole other blog post. What you want to be is the kind of creative that guides the client through the jungle that is the creative process and keeps them from killing their own project. I've gotten requests like...

"I like that, but the logo needs to be bigger to get the maximum effect."

"My favorite colors are green, purple and yellow. So you have to somehow make that work, because I must have those colors."

"I'd like my website to look like facebook, but cooler. Can you do that?"

Yes, these were actual requests I've gotten in the past. That changed when I became an Indiana Jones designer. Now, I answer those kinds of requests (which I get very few of these days) with a hearty "No". I guide and advise. After all, this work represents me and I don't want it to look like the client's cousin got his hands on a crack copy of Photoshop and spent 20 minutes on it.

I hope this post didn't offend anyone. I know many designers that haven't gotten to the Indy level yet (Hell, it took me a few years), but they can and they will. They just need to see the value of what they have to offer and workout their confidence muscles. You see a change in the client's attitude towards you and the quality of clients you gain.

You're talented and you're a problem-solver, so remember that the client needs you to respectfully say...

"Do you want to kill your brand before it's even been born?"

"Yeah, we can do that. Or we can do it the right way and impress your customers."

It's tough love, but love nonetheless; for the work, for the well-being of the client and your sanity. :)

Happy Creating,

Dennis (aka tanoshiboy)