Thursday, February 18, 2016

How to deal with a creative person // 5 things to keep in mind while working together with an artist

Working with creative people can be challenging... We artists have to be our own boss, legal department, marketing consultant, tech wiz, accountant and of course designer. We are skilled in designing but corporate matters... I work together with several businesses, some are small stay-at-home-mommy-etsy-shops and some are giant monsters in textile and home interior, in a good way of course, monsters are funny and extremely cool.

But those giant companies have their own skilled legal teams, communication managers and some have artist managers even. If you run your own creative business you have to connect with the corporate. Doing the best you can, trusting the people you work with. But running a business with the heart is a no-go in this world. Money first right? Well, artists don't think like an average corporation would. And that is where you might get frustrated working together with a designer. We just don't think alike. Here are some tips how to deal with us mad artistic people.

Stuck in our cave
I have to admit a lot of artist can be a little flaky, sometimes unprofessional even, when it comes to their communicative skills. I do think running a creative business means also paying attention to the business side you don't necessarily like and your communication with clients is very important. But however artists are no corporate human beings that work 9 to 5 shifts. Emails might get answered a few days later or in the weekend because we are busy creating and feeling inspired. Creative people own a computer but usually spend only a few hours a day at their desk. Nothing is a bigger buzz kill than negotiating about money when you are in the flow of creating a new collection of designs. We have to cut off from any outside distraction to create so that means we have to 'step away from the computer.' We will come out of our caves eventually and respond to your requests.

Artists also eat
I will be the first one to admit I love my job, however, it is a business. No one is money-injecting my company and I work hard to make myself a living. Somehow lot's of people expect us to work for free or in exchange for 'exposure'. No thank you, exposure won't pay our bills. If you need a design: just pay your designer. When we license Little Smilemakers artwork you do not have to pay us per hour. To create one solid design we invest hours and hours of work, draw, scan, edit digitally, prepare for production, we spend days researching materials, trends, the global market, we have to get materials, software, and also a steady computer. Did I mention you are working with an artist that has 10 years of design expertise? It is all in the €87 license fee. Suddenly seems like a bargain right? If we would really add every single expense to your bill we wouldn't be welcome working for you. But we are artists, we want to stay creative so we will make concessions, money is not our biggest priority, our passion is. Staying close to the heart keeps up creative. But don't expect us to cut costs, we don't have much wiggle room financially.

Don't put us on a pedestal
We don't need the center of attention. Our work might be 'visible' but most artist like to stay behind the scenes, I literally have a behind-the-scenes volunteer job in our local theater. But most people seem to think creative people like the exposure. Well, I sure don't. I turn into a frightened deer when someone puts me in front of a camera. Just credit us and we'll be fine.

Let us breathe
A creative process is… a process. It takes time to mature and grow into something amazing. In this time and age we all expect things to happen right away. A good design needs some time to ripen. I think I can speak for most creative people when I say: we need our freedom. I started my own business because working a 9 to 5 job killed my creativity. We artists need our freedom, and that freedom doesn't come with price tag. Don't try and cage the creative bird. Let us breathe and trust our skills and expertise. Also, the majority of creative people are introverts. So I can tell you from my own experience we need some time to think and make a decision to get to the point where we can excel. Don't put us on the spot about time schedules and costs. We will get back to you on that.

Be honest
The biggest problem for me in this profession is the fact that lot's and lot's of people copy and misuse our work. We artists usually do not have a legal background. Artists are very vulnerable when it comes to the legal side of their businesses. Big companies don't pay a full license since they can take the financial risk of getting fined. The textile industry is crazy competitive and sometimes the artist gets stuck in the middle. We might work together with competition, get over it! We do not have a legal department fighting for our rights and we can not afford to hire those people, artists don't make tons of money. Don't expect us to send you a 10 page legal agreement. So if you work with us please be human and honest at all times. We don't have any problem letting go of business relations that aren't.

photo credit: Berc // Fotolia