Lessons I’ve learned being married to a creative…
1. Don’t assume just because a person is creative that they would love to help you with whatever talent they have. And especially don’t assume that they would gladly do your work for free. Since marrying Sky my eyes have been opened to how often people ask things like: “Can you make me a t-shirt?” or “Can you take pictures at this event?” or “Can you make this for me?” There is often an assumption that since the person is a friend that there is no way they should say no. And they also think that since the person is creative and “likes” doing creative stuff that they will obviously work for free. This is jacked up. When I worked as an engineer many years ago I never once had a co-worker or a friend come to me and say, “Hey, I heard you’re good at excel sheets and doing facility layout projects. Can you do this project for me?” Unless they were offering a bundle of money, I would have laughed at them. So don’t ask in a way that assumes or guilts a creative into serving you. Using the words, “Would it interest you to…” can give the creative a way out rather than saying something like, “I need a photographer for this big event. Can you do it for me?” or “I want one too! Make one for me!” Only ask like that if you have the bundle of money to offer. =)
2. Express what you appreciate about their work before sharing any changes you want. I have a lot of regrets with this one. People tend to assume that creatives don’t have feelings and have zero pride in their work. That is a horrible assumption. Most creatives take pride in their work. And they usually each have a personal touch or style to what they do. So when a client (or friend) immediately points out problems or changes, it can be hard for a creative to not take the criticism personally. Their work came out of them. Their work is their own creation. So while changes may be needed, make sure to first point out the positives and express appreciation.
3. Try to limit changes to just once. Try to make a list of the things you want changed and try and make them as clear as possible. If you want something completely different, then be prepared to pay them double for their work, especially if you weren’t clear up front with what you wanted. If you want the creative to dislike you and never work for you again, then keep asking for changes over and over. If you are a perfectionist or you aren’t sure exactly what you want, then warn the creative well ahead of time and make sure the creative is well compensated for your nitpicking.
4. Don’t assume their work is easy. A pet peeve of many creatives is hearing things like, “This should be easy” or “This should only take a moment.” Non-creatives think making designs or music or other art/media is easy and that with just a click of a mouse or a stroke of a pen that their work can be accomplished. Non-creatives also usually don’t account for how many hours it takes for a creative to brainstorm and come up with a design. If the design work was easy, then non-creative people (anyone) could do it.
5. Don’t be demanding about deadlines unless you have a contract. A creative has no excuse if he or she agreed to a paid contract with specific deadlines. But if you ask a creative for a favor, then you need to be patient. If the favor is really that important, then stop being cheap and go hire someone rather than rely on a friend to do it for free. I’ve seen creatives get swamped with requests while handling their own full time job or studies and then get zero sleep due to all the demands. Creatives need to learn to say no, but regardless if the work is for free then deadlines should not be expected.
Please comment below if you have any other suggestions for working with a creative. Also, I recommend listening to this sermon I gave a few years ago, “The Power of the Arts.” http://www.comequicklyministries.org/blog/dt_portfolio/power-arts/.