You're Killin' Me Here!
I have been reading a lot lately on the horror stories involved when a client suddenly takes over a design project and basically kills the entire creative project. It sounds a little extreme, but no sooner did I read the articles on clients killing creative than the exact thing happened to me.
What started out as a simple Realtor print ad resize and typographic touch-up, turned into a job from Hell. I found myself just waiting, as patiently as I could, for this job to end and realizing that I would never use this layout as a portfolio piece.
The client first contacted me to assist in the resize of a vertical, half-page ad to a full-page ad. I was even provided with the images (although there was a little back-and-forth on what constituted high-resolution) and copy. I've done this many times and actually thought I was being hired to upgrade and update the look from the Word doc that was used before. (Word doc - should that have been a clue?)
After I sent the first draft with some changes for balance and typographical legibility and hierarchy, that's when I started getting calls and email messages that sent the project straight down to the depths of the aforementioned Hell. When I got feedback and directives in one of those email messages to use "...the scrolly typestyle I (the client) used on the half – page ad layout" and to "...put the line screen over it, or make it look transparent, but still recognizable. I don’t want it to look white" (referring to a background, screened photo of a staircase), I knew all hope was lost. I bit the bullet and turned into a production artist for someone who knew not what they were doing. Ugh.
The lesson learned? Well, I really thought this client contacted me because there was a desire to actually evoke a more professional and refined look for a Realtor selling million-dollar-plus homes. I was recommended to this client for that purpose. What I failed to do was take charge from the start, prepare a simple one-page creative brief stating our respective roles and responsibilities, and treat this perceived "quick" project like a serious one. I assumed entirely wrong (I know - NEVER assume) and took a chance on a quick job and turnaround. I also learned that if I want to be taken seriously as a designer, I need to have the same respect and seriousness for the client - even a Word doc one.
All will work out fine. As of the date of this entry, the final proof (that ended-up looking exactly like the original half-page ad) has not yet been approved. How much lower can it go at this point? Stay tuned...