Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Custom Work

I love a challenge. I love when a customer has a vision, and just needs someone to make it real. Ok, it does take some of the pressure off of me as a designer, but it presents new challenges. Is my sense of proportion, color and layout going to fulfill her vision? Am I going to spend all this time working on it just to find out it's not anything like what they wanted?

Some designers & artists loath the idea that what they create may not be at all what the customer wanted. This is always a possibility. I've found, however, that after so many years designing, whether it be logos, furniture or a sign, that your confidence level does come through in your work. Customers come to you because they like what you do, and WANT that "look" that says it's yours. Otherwise, they wouldn't come to you!

There's always going to be that one time when your vision doesn't match your customer's. That's when we as artists must be willing to go that extra mile, it's the nature of custom work. I've had to remake items, and it's those times when I realize perhaps I wasn't listening to exactly what they were really saying. Sometimes they relay a detail that gives me a clue as to what they really mean.

Sometimes, though, they aren't really sure, and it's up to me to know what will look best. It's a collaboration of ideas and communication. One thing I've learned over my years as a designer, is that effective communication is crucial to serve your customers in the best way possible.

Perhaps it isn't exactly what they had in mind. Perhaps it's even better! Perhaps you'll have to redo a job. It's ok. It's the challenge of taking a vision and making it real that builds that confidence and makes you a better designer. Often, it's your job as a designer to let the customer know that certain aspects of their vision won't work in reality, and with just this adjustment or that, it will work.

Sometimes their vision won't work at all, then the onus is on you as the professional to communicate why and offer up a better alternative. Either way, it's a good experience builder to improve your communication skills, your problem solving skills, and your creative skills.

So don't shrink away from a challenge if you know it's something you can handle. And know when to tactfully say "this won't work". You're the professional. You will both walk away with something you wanted, or even something you needed. Risks are important to building a business, they can and do provide learning experience and a chance at greater success!
Have a custom horror story? What have you learned from it? Or tell us a success story when you knew what needed to be done, and it all worked beautifully!

1 comment:

  1. I too love and welcome the challenge of customizing for folks - be it an holistic wellness approach or practice, an herbal formula, a botanical scent, or and art or craft. So far ::knock's head:: my experiences have been positive. Oh, there has a time or few that I've gone back to adjust something, but that's rare and it helps me to learn to listen better and oftentimes create in stages while sharing the process with whoever I'm working with.

    I find such challenges - for me - to be very rewarding.

    Happy creating!