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steamthunk
01-21-2008, 03:26 PM
I'm interested in hearing how people handle disagreements with their clients' vision for a product/project. I make software, but I imagine its same for any consulting business and probably comes up a lot in an art-based industry.

They've hired you to do work which makes them the customer, but at the same time it is your job to steer them in the right direction. Sometimes I can see from a great distance that something is just not going to work, but due to lack of imagination, stubbornness, technical factors, or "that's how competitor X" does it they insist.

Q: How long do you keep fighting for your vision? How do you make the best of what you believe is not the "right" approach (realizing that it is ultimately subjective)?

Steamthrower
01-21-2008, 03:35 PM
I've not dealt with customers much in the artistic side of things (only paying jobs that I've had are in arch viz and industrial modeling) so it's a bit different there.

If you're talking about an artistic production, then surely your client can see things aesthetically. And I'd say that they need to recognise that you're an artist as well and can work much better if you can go with your own mental image and creative sense. They should have realised (or you should have made it clear) at the beginning, when they hired you, to give a bit of artistic license to you...surely they saw your portfolio anyway.

But if you're doing something dull and lifeless like an apartment loft flythrough: well, the way I see it, it's money and I'm getting paid for it and drive fast. I had a corporate client with whom I did a big chemical simulation project. PersonallY I thought the way they wanted it all animated was tacky. I could have made a simple scientific demonstration into a cinematic short film...but they didn't want that. And since they were the boss, I just stuck with making their vision, not mine. Perhaps they would have been fine with it if I had shown them what I could have done...but if they had rejected it, that would have meant that I'd lost hours and hours of work for nothing...

Mike Borjon
01-21-2008, 03:48 PM
Great thread.

I've had my fair share of clients who are insistent on having it their way, and you know, it's somewhat like being a car salesman, you can point out the options, but the customer is the one with the cash.

My advice: treat every customer how they wanted to handled. But always maintain professionalism no matter the case.

Get out of the way of hard-headed folk, no matter how much you try, they see you as a service and a means to getting what they want. It'll save you a lot of time and grey hair.

Mild mannered sensible folk, will initially want to get your perspective in the first place, wanting to take advantage of you expertise and experience. This is where you get to put your vision out there, and the payoff can be very good as these types of customers tend to be repeat customers.

The third and potentially the most dangerous is the customer with no idea what they want but are the first to complain when they "did not get what they asked for". You wind up putting out more effort for the least amount cash and no matter how good it looks they'll complain about something.

None these scenarios are concrete, but only a sample of my experiences.

This also goes for employees and employers.

Thanks

parm
01-21-2008, 03:49 PM
I think it's actually your job. To realize your clients vision.

Offer advice or other input if you wish. But don't take it personally, if it's not what they want. Even if you believe that your idea is better.

At the end of the day. It's unlikely, that they'll ask you back. If they felt you were unsympathetic to their requirements.

steamthunk
01-21-2008, 03:49 PM
Q: How long do you keep fighting for your vision? How do you make the best of what you believe is not the "right" approach (realizing that it is ultimately subjective)?

Whoops I meant can be subjective up there...

Inigo: Good point about the topic and work being performed. I'm not making "art" either, but if it doesn't work or look decent enough it is our responsibility. Often I feel if I "cave in" I become less motivated to work on the project, but I guess that's why its called "work". :D

ted
01-21-2008, 03:50 PM
There are a LOT of variables, but my rule is to give the customer an alternative suggestion. If I know he's really going down the wrong path, I'll raise the "warning flag" one more time and explain why I feel this way.
After that, I don't continue to debate, but give him what he asks for.

I would suggest making a note of what you suggested on the script that I keep. Then when he, (and they often do), comes back and asks for a revision, you have every right to charge for it and, if needed, point out that was how you wanted to go in the first place.

Just remember, don't be pompus with your input or take satisfaction in proving your client wrong. It's always better to let them think they came up with the brilliant idea! :thumbsup:

CoryC
01-21-2008, 03:56 PM
Usually my clients give me a lot of control but every now and then you get one that wants something done that I think is a bad idea. I'll give them advice and offer reasons and examples as to why I think it would be better a different way. If they still want it their way, that's what I do. I just never look at it again when it is finished.

Titus
01-21-2008, 03:56 PM
They've hired you to do work which makes them the customer, but at the same time it is your job to steer them in the right direction.

No, that's not your job. Your job is to make your clients ideas to become a reality, so very often you'll end doing not what you want, but that's why you are being paid. If you try to do what you think is correct then there's a great chance the client will be not satisfied.

Going back to your original question. I think the client isn't always right, actually there are sometimes you don't want some clients (too problematic, to cheap, etc.) and you may decide to tell them go with another vendor.

Steamthrower
01-21-2008, 03:58 PM
Inigo: Good point about the topic and work being performed. I'm not making "art" either, but if it doesn't work or look decent enough it is our responsibility. Often I feel if I "cave in" I become less motivated to work on the project, but I guess that's why its called "work".

I'd say that here, you kind of merge into Ted's advice, and state that "hey, I'll do it the way you want it, but it'll cost you on down the road when you find that you have to change it."

But of course, with software, it's a bit mo' different. I guess the closest thing I would have experience in is with web design. I had a client who wanted me to write a Flash menu bar for his site...of course Flash menu bars, for the very information-oriented site that they were having developed, aren't ideal. For search engines, user-friendliness, speed, etc. But that's what he wanted, so four hours and 200 lines of ActionScript later he had himself a cool custom navigation bar. They were happy. I was happy. End of story. It'd still be better to have an HTML navigation to that site. But they like the slide effect.

And yes, Ted has a solid point: never treat your client like you'd dislike being treated. Let him be right. Don't break him; ease him.

RedBull
01-21-2008, 04:12 PM
I think it's actually your job. To realize your clients vision.

Yes i agree with Parms post, and particular that quote above... (well said)
It's unfortunate but i do agree it's a fact you have to learn to live with.

G M D THREE
01-21-2008, 10:02 PM
There is a very fundamental difference if you are selling a service or a idea, or in most cases a combination of a creative service that combines idea and its execution. If you are mainly hired for you creative thinking and vision and that includes the execution of a service. Than you have to stage that clear to you client and ensure that you have a certain amount of creative freedom to do what you do best.
If you are only hired to provide a creative service under your clients vision, than you have to clarify that to your client and demand clear direction and guideline true the whole project. If the client comes to the realization that he or she is not experienced and competent enough to do so, than you have to negotiate a fee for doing that for them.

Selling a creative service is very much like serving a meal in a restaurant and being the chef. You need to have a menu, meaning clarify what is cooking style and repertoire is, and how much a meal cost. What you can have as a option and what are your special.
Yes you can have extra salt and no onions but if you want a happy meal there is a fast food joint across the street.


///

JeffrySG
01-21-2008, 10:19 PM
^very well said, GMD!

Mike Borjon
01-21-2008, 10:48 PM
Here, here. Well said GMD Three.

Maxx
01-21-2008, 11:21 PM
I think it's actually your job. To realize your clients vision.

Offer advice or other input if you wish. But don't take it personally, if it's not what they want. Even if you believe that your idea is better.
This is it in a nutshell.

I come from the web/print design medium in general, so 3D in TV or movies may be different in attitude.

But from my point of view, in the end, the product you produce - unless you specifically are given a very loose brief and a lot of artistic freedom (which, as Mike Borjon pointed out, can be almost as much a pain in the *** as the overbearing clientèle of the world) - is there to do a single thing. To sell your client's product. That client's product may be a physical item that you're mocking up in 3D for financial backing, or that you're rendering for ad slicks, or it may be a print ad or website devoted to that physical product. Or the product may not be physical, it may be the client themselves, or their intellectual property. It may be the television show they're producing or directing, or the big-budget-robot-flick-of-the-century film they're producing or directing. But you're there to (borrowing parm's words for a second) "realize your clients vision".

Now, the way I approach it is this - I'll talk to the client, get an idea of their personalities and their approach to life and business, then produce between two and five rough sketches. We pick one, and go from there. Or, they look at what I give them and tell me exactly what they want.

In the latter case, really the best thing to do is suck it up, get over the hurt pride for the time being, and do the best you can to give them the best they want. Then go home, crack a couple beers and tell the walls/spouse/pets exactly what their ideas are worth. Just unplug the phone first.

Maxx
01-21-2008, 11:35 PM
As an addendum...

Most of us have a style that is uniquely our own and shows itself in one form or another in the majority of our work, regardless of graphical focus, unless the person in question is a remarkable artist with the ability to completely lose themselves in the work, or has no aesthetic opinion of their own. The client has - one would assume and hope - seen your portfolio, and at least unconsciously noticed and enjoyed that innate aesthetic. Therefor, even the clients that are incredibly strict in their dictates on design and implementation have granted you some say in how they are ultimately perceived via the final product.

Wonderpup
01-22-2008, 05:51 AM
I think the real problems here arise when a client has a fixed idea that simply will not work- so you become effectively trapped between what the client thinks they need and what they actualy need- the client is in conflict with themselves.

The problem being that if you do what they tell you to do, they can then turn around at the end of the job and-quite rightly-point out that the result does not work (at which point their idea has mysteriously morphed into your idea, of course)

The only solution I have worked out for this scenario is to become really pedantic about getting email confirmation regarding their instructions, so you can at least point out that they were the ones making the decisions, so they ought to pay to have the job revised. I would rather come across a bit slow on the uptake than redo the job for free.

Steamthrower
01-22-2008, 07:46 AM
I suppose, really, that each and every case is going to be different.

Say that Jones, director of a TV sci-fi drama show, needs some spaceships flying through an asteroid field and exploding. He gives you the script and says that he wants some pink glitter that follows the spaceships around. Since you're an artist, you have a duty here to explain to him that hey, this is a drama, and in drama you just don't have pink glittery fairy dust trailing behind your DXX Proton Annihilator.

But then say that Smith, CEO of some upstart corporation that is manufacturing missile guidance systems, wants a TV spot made showing a display of his new thingamajig. He wants you to not have any fancy moves and to shade the final renderings so they look like 3d, not photorealistic. "I don't want it to look photoreal," he says. "Cause then it won't look like we had this 3D rendering made. It'll look like we're really filming the thing." Then he adds something about "make that video 640 x 480 at 300 dpi so we can print it." So what do you do?

He's got the bucks. He's got the missile. So what you do is do what he says and give him a 640 x 480 video, at 600 dpi for no extra charge.

So.

Mike Borjon
01-22-2008, 08:44 AM
He's got the bucks. He's got the missile. So what you do is do what he says and give him a 640 x 480 video, at 600 dpi for no extra charge.

Haha, I've experienced something along that line. Very funny indeed.