The Artist is a Creative who interprets the creative task at hand in a way that reflects her artistic taste and personal style. When you, the Client, hire the Artist, you must ask yourself, why this specific artist and not another? Your answer should be that you have a preference for this artist's work and thus style. You have an idea that you want interpreted in the individual manner distinct to this artist. But be wary: Artists are specialized workers, focusing on one category in the vast realm we call the arts. In other words, don't ask a painter to sculpt you a David. Don't ask a photographer to paint you the Mona Lisa. You get the drift.
The act of hiring and or compensating an Artist for the creation of a piece is called a commission. I know it is easy to think that as a Client, you get what you want. But when working with the Artist, you must be willing to forfeit control so that creativity is not stifled. And yes, this surrender includes the Client's propensity to editing. I know this sounds scary, but in this partnership you put your trust in your Artist's creative judgment based on your affinity for her work as a whole. Proposing edits that could potentially compromise her style (an example, asking her to copy another artist's style) is an insult to your artist of choice.
Yes, the Artist can adapt her style but she has her limitations. Just because your Artist can her portraits to emulate your favorite cartoon Adventure Time’s characters doesn’t mean she’s classically trained to reflect your favorite Renaissance painting. There aren't many Artists who will leave their comfort zones to appease one client. Especially when there are ten other Clients who love this Artist’s style as is. But don’t even get me started on the intricacies of copyrighting and plagiarism. Let me just say, with the resources and access we have today, nothing is original. All we can do is recycle, remix, and repeat. So when asked to replicate someone else’s work, the Artist has no room to make the piece her own, infringing on another’s remix and breaking the creative cycle. To prevent causing your Artists to sacrifice their styles and or morals, Clients, choose your partner wisely: take your time, shop around, and decide which aesthetics match your own.
Commissions can however be subject to revision at the discretion of the Artist BUT only at the Artist’s discretion. The Artist’s Discretion may be solely based on which stage your creative unit is in, and that stage should always be the sketching stage. Could you imagine hiring a tattoo artist, reviewing the sketch, inking your skin, and then saying, Oh wait, do you think you could do this instead? But the damage is done. We are past the point of return. You, the Client, have not only lost a significant chunk of your paycheck, but wasted the Artist’s time and resources. The Artist cannot Ctrl+Alt+Delete. The Artist cannot Ctrl+Z. When the Artist has finished a creation, there is no way to regain resources. The ink is now under your skin. The ink is low in your Tattoo Artist’s gun and there’s no salving any ink from you, the Client. And that ink costs money.
When dealing with certain Artists, time and resources are used to create one tangible creative unit such as an oil painting, a marble sculpture, a double exposure portrait photograph, a hand knit wool cardigan, an American traditional tattoo. These creative units cannot be altered without having to be scrapped and restarted or extensively reworked (in this example, the Client would have to look into tattoo removal or find another artist to cover up the tattoo, thus spending more money). You see where I'm going with this? As a Client working with an Artist, be mindful of the creative process and voice your concerns and suggestions early in the process before it's too late.
But what about digital artists? Can’t they just Ctrl Z? Well the Digital Artist does produce a digital creative unit that can easily be modified and reproduced. Yet this Artist still faces the difficulties of producing a tangible unit. Hours are spent rendering a digital painting, but the Digital Artist will have to wait what the final product will look like in the physical world. The Digital Artist will spend money to print a print after print, after print. Tormented by Pantone Colors, the Digital Artist relentlessly prints until the dull flat colors seeping into the fibrous paper reflect the bright hues beaming brilliantly off her computer screen. Maybe this isn’t the right paper. The Digital Artist knows the matte paper is the culprit and switches to glossy. But there are 10 types of gloss. The Digital Artist is at a loss, mentally and financially. Don’t forget these are just test prints. The Digital Artist remembers that she needs this printed 24 by 36 inches. (Cue sobbing.)
All Artists endure this dilemma of a disregarded process resulting in wasted time, lost money, and squandered resources. So be mindful of your Artist’s valued assets. Feel free to join the process, proposing edits at your Artist’s convenience. Clients, do not let your edits stifle your Artist’s creativity; release control. This is the Artist’s craft.
Learn about the Designer in tomorrow's final post, "The Designer: Her Process, Her Perspective."