I’m an artist, not a mind reader!

Well, this is kind of going to be a bit more of a rant I suppose. I guess it is my first one, but it was inevitable, lol. I’m pretty calm right now though, so, not all hyped up about it or anything at the moment. I just feel like discussing this situation though because it comes up all too often for designers and artists like myself and it can be pretty weird and frustrating.

Every so often I run into this situation where a client expects me to basically be a sort of mind reader, extracting the visual images directly from their brain in a short conversation about the project. They assume it should be a simple task, since I am a talented artist, to achieve this vision they have in their mind easily after giving me only a few basic details about the concept.

Problem is, I have no clue what they really want without them giving me a whole lot of detailed information to work with, so I can’t possibly produce exactly what they have in mind. When I try to pry the details out of some folks, explaining that I need more details, they give me the most basic sorts of responses and hardly any decent details at all which is pretty unfortunate.

Usually what happens in these cases is I end up producing something, and when I show it to them they are immediately not happy and want revisions. Not a surprise to me, it happens just about every time someone takes this sort of approach, but it is always frustrating. This is not a very efficient way of going about creating a piece of media, and it wastes a lot of time and energy. It makes me a bit sour to be honest.

I think what is happening is that a lot of folks think that if you are an artist, you should be able to create just about anything easily. They might not know a lot about how art is made and what sort of processes or approaches are involved. Sure an artist might seem like they have an easy job at times, but this is an illusion I assure you. There is almost always a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes that people don’t see.

Producing good art is not always about a person having pure creative talent, a clever mind, or even the right tools. There are all sorts of technical aspects that really have nothing to do with being creative or artistic at all in fact. Sometimes research needs to be done, reference needs to be collected, and you have to familiarize yourself with new things. It can all be a lot more complex than people assume.

Artists can spend their life trying to develop and perfect just a single style, and some artists are forced to be more versatile. It is always a learning process, and it takes time to figure out an approach if working on something new you have never done before.

Another thing, art is completely subjective.. I might not like the same colors,shapes,and concepts my clients like. I might design things differently than the next person based on my personal experience and choices that make sense to me. With that being the case, it is even that much more important to share all the ideas about your project, especially what you think you will like as an end result. I can’t guess what someone else will like unless I really know them well and have an intimate understanding of all their likes and dislikes.

Some things are easy to do I admit, I mean if for example you say you want a picture of an apple sitting in a bowl on a table then there isn’t too much guess work for me. Still, even then, there are a million ways to do it. Different looks to the art style, lighting and environment, color of the apple, details, etc.

So people need to provide artists and designers as much detail as possible or they won’t be able to make you happy. This is why having a planning session is always a good idea. Gives a chance to write some notes on your design if you have something challenging in mind.

I also think people think they are making it easier by just giving a simple description of what they want, but the truth is in the long run it makes it more difficult. It causes more hangups and revisions, which can make the project drag on longer than it needs.

So folks, don’t be afraid to give your artists and designers as much information as you can pull out of your mind.. Write out a few notes when ideas pop into your mind and share all these details. The project will usually go more efficiently and everyone will feel better about it too. :)

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