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