A client to me is anyone who approaches you for the sole purpose of assigning or hiring you for a project. Whether you work as an employee or freelance artist, the person assigning you a project should be viewed as a client. I like viewing every assignee as a client because it establishes a more formal context from which I define my role as the hired artist.
Ultimately the client is always right, because he is the one paying for the job, but knowing how to influence your client to accept your ideas is a skill directly related to service. Good service means doing your best to remain open and positive to all of your client’s ideas, being there when he needs a good explanation of what you’re doing, offering up as many solutions as necessary for the project, and making him feel confident that you’re going to do a good job.
This service is also influenced by circumstances like deadlines, budget, creative freedom, trust, personal taste, relationship, and so on. In the context of deadlines, success comes from a properly researched project, well-defined project goals, solid creative direction, and proper time for client input. No matter the circumstances, do your best to understand the client’s needs, formulate a proposal, and then deliver what you promise.
Creative problem solving takes time. Make sure that you give your client ample notice of your needs as it relates to a schedule, and don’t agree to show him something if you don’t feel there’s enough time to execute your ideas. Unless you’re under the gun and the client wants an on the spot creative session, it’s always better to give yourself a chance to absorb the project and come up with some ideas. Case in point: Whenever I ask any of the animators who work for me to make a change or come up with something new, they always respond with “No problem, check with me in an hour.” I understand going into the situation that they need to work things out first, then once they feel comfortable with their creative choices, I get called in for a review of their work.
A good client/boss will understand this, so take your time. Anything worth viewing is going to need some time for creative problem solving. When coming up with ideas, I like to develop at least three different concepts. Why three? Simply put, variety.
Everyone, including yourself, wants a variety of choices, so do your best to come up with a minimum of three different concepts for talking points. Perhaps your final project contains elements from all three or maybe just one, but all in all it bodes well for a well-researched presentation.