Sunday, January 6, 2013
Rockwell, and Dr. Phil. An explanation.
I remember when working on a project right before the end of the year I was discussing with a great friend of mine the whole business as far as doing these for clients, and I had a way of describing the whole thing that I haven't let go of and wanted to put down in text. The idea was that whether it's live work, or studio projects for others, one should think of themselves as a combination of Norman Rockwell, and Dr. Phil. Rockwell, in the sense of honing your ability, and Dr. Phil when it comes to your working relationships with the people that are your clients.
In the live portrait and caricature scene, your client is often times either standing behind you, or in the chair either excited or nervous as to what they're going to see when you flip the paper over. One has to have the technical ability to be able to draw things well (Rockwell), yet you also have to know and understand the times where you can crank it or hold back. (Dr. Phil) It's a delicate balance in the live scene and it's one of the things that I feel I've gotten better at over the years of being in this business. I'm still not perfect at it though (nobody is), and every once in a while I'll either get a bad Phil reading on someone and end up making them mad, or the Rockwell just doesn't do what it needs to do (or gets to do too much *lol*) while the Phil tries to run damage control and fails for that one client and God knows who else behind me. Stuff happens. From my personal experiences the Dr. Phil end got better for me when the Rockwell improved over the years, though I've seen the reverse happen and success be just as good so it's not the order of improvement that matters too much as it is whether that balance gets found.
Now with live work, either way the scenario goes, the whole ordeal is usually done in a matter of minutes and the effects are usually put out within an hour upon "resetting yourself" if for some reason things go south. On the other hand, commission work can be a whole other can of worms simply due to the duration of time it takes and the money involved in it. What I've found in my experiences with it is that people want to see a LOT more of both Rockwell and Dr. Phil. People are going to be hiring you for that Rockwell ability, YET ideally they're also paying you for that caring Dr. Phil. I've heard a lot of horror stories throughout my time in the field. Often times, the artist gets commissioned for something, (ESPECIALLY with the likes of portraits) and for whatever reason the artist can't get the OK from the client to finish something. For whatever reason it just doesn't quite match the vision the client has for what it is that being worked on. If you're a rookie at the game, I'll just tell you right now. Get used to this happening, I don't care how good you believe you are. Sometimes you just NEVER get it (hopefully that's extremely rare) and you have to bow out as gracefully as possible. For the majority of those other times you GET it in your head and do it the way you believe you were told to it only for the project to come to a stalling point because THAT GUY LOOKS A LITTLE TOO ANGRY, or WE THINK THAT THIS GUY NEEDS TO MOVE OVER SOME, AND KNOCK OUT THE NUMBERS TOO. Even if you feel you're right, don't get offended by it, be the Dr. Phil. Talk it out, maybe you can convince them to keep it the way you feel it'll work best, but if you can't just change it up to how they want it. The big thing I believe we sometimes forget in the process of this is that what you're doing is ultimately THEIR PROJECT that they're paying you to produce. When it's something personal for yourself you can do what you want to do with it, but when it's theirs the project is a joint effort between you AND the client and you need to do everything that you can to make it go smoothly.
That said, there IS an important element to the Rockwell/Dr. Phil paradigm that needs to be stated. It is preferable to get both of them balanced out as close to 50/50 as possible. Too much Rockwell, and for many clients they'll feel like they cannot work with you. Too much Dr. Phil and some will feel as if they can do whatever they want with you and get away with it. In scenario one, word DOES go around and you may find it more difficult to get work when you're being a primadonna. In scenario two, you may get paid for what you put out. However, you'll be throwing your head at the nearest desk over how little you got for how much extra work you put into it (especially if you weren't thinking ahead). Balance them out as close as possible, and there's a much higher chance of everyone leaving the deal happy. Really, who wouldn't want that?
So to close this out, get your Rockwell and Phil in order. You'll thank them both later.