This week, I am giving three major presentations to new clients. Even after three decades in the business, I still get nervous when presenting. It doesn’t help that I did not sleep that well last night. Those familiar questions kept creeping into my head and taunting me. “Is it good enough?” I thought. “Did I actually capture what the client wanted or are my designs too out there?”
In continuing my series of discussing the job from first call to execution (and sharing the mistakes I have made in the process), I thought I would tackle the challenges that accompany this very important step.
I have often been asked to share what I would do if I were approached by a client who asked me to design something I disliked, or even hated. The answer is simple: I would do it. The reasoning behind this is an obvious one (to me). The event is not mine, it’s theirs. As a designer, it is not my job to sit and judge their taste, it is my job to make it work. In order to design any job effectively, I feel it is important to do all I can to become my clients in the process.
I do this by asking myself the following questions:
Do they have a concept in mind? Notice that I am not asking if they have a team. I think a team is is more appropriate for a children’s party, not a wedding or event.
Are there certain color preferences? I focus on hues and shades, not specific colors. Doing the latter can be very limiting. It has been my experience that working with a family of colors works best (and clients seem to appreciate it).
What images did they bring in as examples of their ideas? Though I always ask clients to bring in magazine clippings and send over images, I am careful to note that not all photo shoots work in real life. Beautiful petals down the aisle look gorgeous in photos; real world application often leads to less elegant situations. If the bride has a long dress, she winds up dragging those petals up to the altar with her.
Are they more modern, traditional, or eclectic? Note: Most of my brides tend to like to marry modern and traditional design concepts.
Do they prefer simple or dramatic elegance? Guess which most of my brides prefer.
Now, make no mistake: I have heard those dreaded words, “Preston, that is not what I had in mind” on more than one occasion. I am really hoping that is not the case this week (take that as proof that time and experience never quite work to eliminate the disappointment a designer feels when he or she disappoints a client). I have often thought I should start a blog that includes all of the work I have done that has been rejected. You would not believe how good–and bad–they were!
To design is to allow yourself to be vulnerable and take a risk in the hopes that your clients will appreciate your vision and understand that, whatever the design, you have put it together with them in mind and placed a piece of your soul into it.
Do you feel that you are a risk-taker in your designs?
Please share an idea given to you by a client that you did not want to design? What did you wind up doing?