[Honest Friday] Artist Mentality versus Client Oriented Mentality

After a really short brainstorming sesh, we’ve decided that it’s time to showcase one of our strongest values: honesty.

This is how we created the concept of Honest Friday, written from a creative’s professional perspective, in a witty way, in the form of a brutally honest storm, hoping that someone out there will feel the same and get inspired. 

This blog section will cover various areas, but the main idea is to inspire other creatives (either junior or senior) and tbh, make them feel understood. So it’s like a therapy session, only in blog form, it’s free and you get a couple of AHA moments while you’re browsing 2 other social media platforms and probably sitting on the toilet or at the bus station. That’s okay, though! 

Believe it or not, a client’s worst nightmare is dealing with stuck up creatives that think they’re the bee’s knees. But on the other hand, a creative’s ultimate nightmare is that the client changing their idea so much they completely ruin it. ‘’There goes my portfolio!’’, you’ll think to yourself. ‘’I can’t add that! It’ll ruin my whole artist persona!’’. And that’s the problem right there: you’re not really an artist, are you? You can have an artistic side, but you need to turn into some sort of creative chameleon when it comes to the client’s ideas. If he says blue, you’re blue too. Same for yellow, green all of the colors of the rainbow. But is there an in-between? Can you mix the artist mentality with a client-oriented one? The answer is coming right up! 

While dealing with some clients may seem difficult, once you understand their needs, learn to implement their feedback and learn to communicate you’ll understand the importance of creating a positive relationship with your client. And your artist mentality will shift in a more pragmatic way. 

What exactly is artist mentality and why it’s hurting your work 

When you say artist you say eccentric, ego-driven, somebody that’ll do anything to protect their work, their ideas, do whatever it takes.
Van Gogh, Picasso, Dickens, Bukowski, Pollock, Vivienne Westwood, Kurt Cobain, Mariah Carey, what do all of these have in common? The X-factor, the superstar persona, the talent, the sacrifice, the ego, and the drama. Oh, and don’t forget fame!
Having an artist mentality doesn’t mean that you’ll go chopping your ear off, but it does mean that if you have your mindset on your ideas they can’t be altered in any way. You even get upset when the client decides to completely modify them. But how? Your idea was a stroke of genius! How does he not see that you’re right? Slow down, your ego is getting ahead of yourself.

So why is this hurting your work? How did we start our article? ‘’Believe it or not, a client’s worst nightmare is dealing with stuck up creatives that think they’re the bee’s knees’’. Ring any bells?

Of course, your work needs to be a reflection of your own skills and talent, but it also needs to mirror the client’s personality.

Well, let’s find some middle ground, folks!
While sometimes it’s important to stand by your ideas and your artist persona, other times you have to just read the room. If your personality matches the client’s, then you can go a little bit crazy and let that artist out of his toy box. But that’s the dream, right? Most of the time that doesn’t really happen.
Also, get this! Clients think they’re the bee’s knees too. But you know why? It’s their brand. It’s their vision. And, most importantly, it’s their money. To misquote a really popular song, ‘’They got the power!’’. But both of these mentalities are wrong. Why?
Keep reading, don’t be lazy! 

Client-Oriented or disoriented? 

Let’s talk about the opposite of the Artist Mentality: the Client-Oriented Mentality. See, in life, in general, think in terms of black or white is kind of toxic. That applies here too.
Don’t think that having this type of mentality will do you any good either. Yes, the client is always right, unless he’s wrong! Haven’t you come across a couple of clients that have no idea what they want? What then? Do you just agree with them and get disoriented on their behalf? Or do you guide them in the right direction?
Obviously, there are other situations, too. Like when the client has an idea that isn’t following their values, their mission or any guidelines you’ve both decided on. Again, in that case, he needs to be guided back on the path you’ve both established. Obviously, using arguments, reason and a positive non-ego-driven attitude. 

But no! This is not when the Artist Mentality kicks in. Also, you can have a Client-Oriented Mentality sometimes, but being a Yes man is both bad for you, and for your clients. 

Teamwork makes the dream work  

‘’Okay, so I can’t be an artist and I can’t suck up to the client. What else is there?’’. There’s something called the grey area. When we can be a stuck-up artist by showing off our skills, not our ego. And we can suck up to the client by simply improving our listening skills and focusing more on them.
It’s some sort of creative compromise that we all need to make in order to deliver not only portfolio worthy projects but successful ones. We need to keep both ourselves and the client happy. We need to create this unbreakable bond based on the constant exchange of ideas and inputs so that the project turns out amazing. 

But how do we do that? 

  • Get real 

When working on a project the first thing you need to do is being objective. Our job as creatives is to use our expertise, skillset, and insights to come up with a new perspective that meets our client’s goals. We need to get real and be open to any questions the client has about our ideas and deliverables. 

  • Encourage critique 

We’re built, as humans, to think that criticism is bad. Lots of people react negatively to it, even when it’s constructive. Well, in this case, any critique coming from the client is constructive because it helps us build his ideal deliverable. And we can also give our own, obviously in an objective way. After that, we have a clearer view of what needs to be done. Clear?

  • Adapt. Improve. Keep working 

Earlier we were talking about teamwork. Let’s see what that means! As a creative you have the right to listen, articulate the why’s in your ideas, be constructive, be attentive when the client states their concerns and know when to get into that Artist Mentality and when to be Client Oriented. Ok? Moving on.
Clients should also listen, give constructive criticism, reinforce positive direction, offer clarity if needed, tell the creative what works and what doesn’t and explain their vision properly. 

It’s like a creative puzzle. You have to put thought into it and in order to finish it, sometimes you have to ask for help.

If you’ve made ‘till here, that means you’ll be excited to read our upcoming article. Where we’ll be talking about our branding process that actually debunks these two types of mentalities. 


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