Part two of our new AOI se­ries re­veals how to fight for what you de­serve...

Computer Arts - - Illustrator Advice - WITH VIC LEE

At the AOI we al­ways say: ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ An ini­tial of­fer from your client may seem con­sid­er­able and tempt­ing, but is it the best of­fer for the kind of work you’re about to cre­ate? If the an­swer to that is no, then it might be time to raise the bar and ne­go­ti­ate.

Ask­ing ques­tions and ne­go­ti­at­ing can seem daunt­ing, but be­com­ing con­fi­dent in do­ing so is nec­es­sary in or­der to ad­vance your ca­reer.

We asked AOI mem­ber Vic Lee to share his ex­pe­ri­ence with ne­go­ti­a­tion, and why com­mu­ni­ca­tion and build­ing re­la­tion­ships with clients are so sig­nif­i­cant to him...

Vic Lee: I be­gan my illustration ca­reer by sell­ing screen­prints at shows and events, and that gave me the op­por­tu­nity to meet cus­tomers face to face and hear great feed­back from them. This ex­pe­ri­ence def­i­nitely gave me the con­fi­dence to com­mu­ni­cate with clients and carry on with my work.

Be­cause my mu­rals are be­spoke, long-term art­works, I rarely have to ne­go­ti­ate. It’s a strange one, as I of­ten ex­pect to do so on larger works, but mu­rals are, I find, of­ten agreed (or not) from a first quote, whereas com­mer­cial work is more ne­go­tiable. I do find that when some de­sign agen­cies are quot­ing for a client, their bud­gets are low and non-ne­go­tiable, and that can be frus­trat­ing; it can feel like they don’t fully recog­nise the skills in­volved when they are com­mis­sion­ing you.

One of the most im­por­tant as­pects for me is the level of ful­fil­ment on a project. If a job comes in and it’s too tight or un­rea­son­able, I will sim­ply walk away. It’s tough at the be­gin­ning to say no, as you think this will lose you work, or you will never earn any­thing ever again, but you have to value your own self-worth. Be­ing able to hold my ground means other jobs come in that are even bet­ter. On av­er­age I get two or three re­quests for work a week, from pack­ag­ing to mu­rals, cam­paigns to tat­toos.

For me, the most im­por­tant thing is to have a re­la­tion­ship with a client. I am a chatty chap, so never just turn up and ‘do the job’. For me it’s about un­der­stand­ing a client and what they want. I also re­alise that in cer­tain cir­cum­stances, it’s not about money, but form­ing a re­la­tion­ship. You need to see the big­ger pic­ture rather than the here and now.

I think the best way to achieve bal­ance in gen­eral when work­ing with clients is by us­ing the fol­low­ing ‘for­mula’: client + us­age + skills + hon­esty = great pos­si­bil­i­ties. Through this for­mula I have worked with some in­cred­i­ble clients who value my work, and I have been hon­oured to work with them.

Vic Lee is a Lon­don-based Il­lus­tra­tor who works in print, pack­ag­ing, mu­rals and events. His client list in­cludes Virgin At­lantic, Nike, The Fa­mous Grouse, Marks & Spencer and Wella.

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