Biting The Tongue That Feeds Me
I owe the blog readers of GDF a big apology. I have not made an entry for quite a long time now, and I apologize. I know that you have come to love and read what is posted and you patiently wait for the next installment - well, maybe not. The truth is, I've been pretty busy lately with work and business-related activities and haven't much felt like writing. But now I do.
The excuse of being busy with work is a good thing, actually. This year has felt different than others and I really feel that there is an increased need for graphic design - for me, mainly updated identity and marketing materials. Web design has been an increased need, too, but a lot of the interactive and Flash-related design has, quite frankly, passed me by (and gone over my head). I am still a sucker for print.
Anyway, with this increase in "busy-ness", I have also found that I have been caught in the dilemma of biting my tongue or not when it comes to client interaction and relationships. I have been doing this gig for quite some time now, and I have learned a thing or two and feel that I am a lot more proactive in my dealings with the peeps. I communicate very straigtforwardly with clients up front and have instituted many clauses and other elements in contracts, based on this learning. It is funny, however, how I still am confronted with issues, or people, which I have to decide whether it's really worth it or not to "educate" them.
For example, I just completed a big job for a new client that basically involved production work for a convention directory map. It was a large-format job and I was given a "template" and raw files from the convention client. My client, the exposition management company, was my main contact and, seeing a big picture opportunity here, I wanted to build a good rapport and relationship. So, I let some minor things slip by - such as low-resolution or incorrectly formatted files - and calmly and delicately communicated this to my client. Of course, this caused some delay in deliverables and the original deadline was not met. We still made it to the printer in time, but upon our post-mortem, my client gave me feedback that criticized me for these and other things that were basically out of my control. I did my best to communicate through the entire process to get correct files, etc., but was still criticized for it. I bit my tongue.
Another example involves another new client, this time a one-off, most likely, who turned our contracted revisions for their logo design into a lot of extra work for me and another designer who I contracted. Color changes turned into the desire to see 4 hues of the same color, for example, which was not considered a legitimate revision by the client. They actually provided me with a hexadecimal code for their print color choice and then reneged on it after seeing the mock-up. I bit my tongue big time on this one, mainly because I knew they were new and sort of inexperienced in this sort of thing and also because I knew it wouldn't last forever.
To bite or not to bite, that is the question. I know the common denominator is me in these situations and that I don't know everything when it comes to client communications or relations. I think I am much better than I was when first starting out and do avoid potential problems from the onset. Overall, it is a test of my professionalism, and patience, that I am faced with everyday with clients and the general public. I don't do well all the time with this and know it. I desire to do the best job I can for each client and project and only hope that my efforts will help contribute to the overall acceptance and importance of good design. Every once in a while it would feel really good to tell a client a thing or two - I guess that's what blogs are for.