People say that when you're a freelancer, all that matters is keeping your client happy. And while I make every effort to establish and maintain a healthy and productive working relationship with my clients, ultimately the product is what's important. The effectiveness and quality of the art is more important than simply doing what my client wants me to do.
First and foremost, my job is to make a good product. Those sixty to ninety seconds of story, art and music are all that matter. But the journey to that moment is a long and arduous process of toil, joy, frustration, anxiety, learning, epiphanies, excitement, fear, and exhaustion.
Understanding that the art is what matters gives me the confidence to perform to the best of my ability. Sometimes it's tempting to agree with a client and give them exactly what they ask for. After all, we want to please. But it takes guts to push back when it's called for, and to educate when needed. On the surface it may seem right to immediately give them what they want, but often times it's a disservice to them. Why? Because artists can deliver so much more.
Ultimately what a client really wants is for the artist to tell them what they want. As artists, it's our job to interpret what they tell us into actionable endeavors and then to expand on that. And when a client takes issue with something, they're usually not sure how to fix it. Often times they don't know how to describe the thing that's rubbing them the wrong way. It's not their fault, but they will use language and terminology that doesn't translate well to the art tasks. Or it may be misinterpreted. It's a language barrier of the professional variety. They speak the language of their profession, and we speak ours. An experienced artist knows how to bridge the gap, and determine what they actually want to convey.
I work to develop strong communication channels with my clients. The more I work with specific people, the better we're able to work together. They learn to trust how I work, and I learn how to interpret their desires. This requires that I occasionally educate them on how things work. It can be tricky, but I strive to gently show them how the artistic process works to build trust and ease their fears.
On the whole, this profession of mine has caused me more than a few heartaches. Art is an emotional, vulnerable and risky endeavor. It's one hell of a journey, I'll tell ya.