On My Mind: Trust Your Gut


Sometimes when I’m contacted for work, there are key phrases that send off red flags in my head. In the past I’ve ignored them, trying to be more positive and maybe I was a little naive, thinking I could change the client’s mind or maybe I was willing to risk having a potential nightmare experience just to work on the project I was excited about. Not anymore. I think trusting your gut is important in those instances where the job sounds fishy or unclear.

Here are some of my red flags:

“I already know exactly what I want, so it shouldn’t take you much time right?” – this tells me a few things. One, that they aren’t open to virtually any creative input from a professional. It’s always a gamble to take on a project like this because it could be a good idea or a bad one, and if it is a bad one, could you talk them out of it? Second, they are either trying to minimize my hours so that they don’t have to pay me as much, or they are looking for a rush job (or worse, both).

“I want it to look like this” (attaches picture)sometimes this is ok, but it’s the absolute worst feeling when you realize they are hoping to mimic an existing brand too closely for comfort. If using reason to talk them out of it isn’t working, I back away slowly because I won’t compromise my work ethic for someone who doesn’t understand or appreciate the importance of developing a unique brand.

“I will own the work right?” – This tells me they don’t understand the true value of copyright and are assuming I will sign over all my rights. This isn’t USUALLY an issue with things like logos, but if you’re a photographer, illustrator, or any other type of creative who creates art for commercial use, such as editorial publications, t-shirts, book covers and merchandise etc, don’t give your rights away unless they pay for them. Be sure to understand your rights as the creative. This also happens when consultants want me to perform work for hire services, where I do all the work and they claim credit.

These are just a few phrases that are deal breakers for me. They usually mean trouble and my goal for 2013 is to take on quality clients, not quantity.

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