How to Know When You Do Good Work


preston bailey how to do good designs

(Image via Andrew Martin)

In Monday’s blog post, entitled “The Art of Being a Business Person and an Artist,” I advised folks in our industry to “TRUST in your ability to create. Some artists buy into the lie that being an artist is only reserved for a select few. But if creating your art makes you feel alive, then you are an artist.”

That post generated many wonderful responses, but one comment in particular stood out. Renee Shea of Luminoso Blu Events wrote:

“As usual Preston your latest post came at a timely moment for me. I have been thinking all morning about benchmarking and quality work. I want to ask a question to your readers in relation to the ‘trust in your ability to create’ point. How do you get that trust? How do you benchmark your quality designs against others? How do you know that what you do is good, quality work?

I ask this from a position of a start-up business – I don’t have a back-log of clients who can attest for my work. I understand that it takes time to establish a business, but every business person knows that if you aren’t selling a decent product (quality or price wise) then being in business isn’t going to work. How do you know whether you’re selling a quality product/service?”

I think Renee’s question is incredibly important, and I know she really wants to know your answers. So do I! What would you say to Renee? Here are my thoughts:

Dear Renee, I completely understand where you are coming from. In fact, I joke that my next book should be a compilation of all the designs I’ve done that I thought were quality, but my clients definitely did not. There have been quite a few of those over the years!

I think your comment brings up two different issues: Artistry and Value. When I set out to create all those designs I thought were so brilliant, I had no idea my clients wouldn’t agree. In my mind, those designs were art. However, to my clients, they had no value.

As much as we are artists, we’re also in the service industry. We must remember that our jobs are to provide a service. That means, in part, that we have to give our clients the best quality product we can. In order to do that, we have to listen to them and hear what they need and want — not just what we want to produce.

The bottom line is that if my clients are happy, then I know I have a great product. Over the years, I’ve honed my instincts, and today I have a much better understanding of what my clients will and will not value. With time, you, too, will strengthen your instincts and develop your own signature look, style and interpretation.

Dear Readers, regardless of the product or service you provide (flowers, event design, stationery, food, lighting etc…) do your clients usually like the first ideas you come up with? What do you do when they don’t? Please share!

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