What would you do

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Mark Summers
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What would you do

Post by Mark Summers » Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:36 am

So customer has some artwork that he is set on and the thing is the
art is pretty amateurish. How do you tactfully tell customer that
you don't want to bid on the work due to this is not the kind of work
you do? Maybe I have given my own answer with the previous
sentence.

Mark

Larry White
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Re: What would you do

Post by Larry White » Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:47 am

I like to use the phrase,

"I don't want to talk about those things."


Perhaps the best reason, is no reason at all......


Maybe you could polish up their design to an acceptable level.
Best take that job while ya got the chance...

Mike Jackson
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Re: What would you do

Post by Mike Jackson » Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:17 pm

Unless you have a big backlog of other good jobs, I'd suggest landing the job if you can.

When I am faced with the same situation, I ask them if it okay to show them something a bit better before we proceed with their design. There's a bit of a gamble in time but the payoff might be worth it. If they see your better design and still want theirs, do theirs and take their money. Someone else will if you don't! With all that said, I "have" backed out of a job or two when it is clear the artwork stinks AND the customer is going to be a pain.

Good luck,
Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
Teton Images
Jackson Hole photography blog:
Best of the Tetons

Tony Segale
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Re: What would you do

Post by Tony Segale » Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:38 pm

I don't care much for other's designs, never have.
I see the worst in them, built up my hatreds for 'em, little by little.

A while back, I rec'd a call, place was going to open in a month, 'can you come by and see what we need'.
When I got there, the Mrs. gave me their lettering style, a f**t the Mr. chose and was told
'Don't bother changing it". So, I left. Two weeks later, they called wanted to know if I had any prices.
I met them both this time and told them... "if you want signs with the f**t you chose, here is a list of three sign companies you can call that can price this for you, apples for apples.
My forte' is creating an image for my clients, a logo that will set them apart from other businesses and is easily recognized.
Since you don't want this, here is the list."
They stopped and looked me in the eye and told me they were open to my ideas. I pulled a thumbnail pencil sketch I had created out of my back pocket,
and sold the logo and gilded glass doors on the spot. Later, I painted a large mural in their banquet room, and six smaller murals for their dining room wall.

If they had still wanted their f**t for their signs, I would have given them the list and moved on.
I don't want to keep a job to be someone's low price worker. There are plenty of shops around for that.

I don't have to look past them to get all I need.
and he took that golden hair and made a sweater for baby bear.
http://www.tonysegale.com
http://www.tonysegale.wordpress.com

Doug Bernhardt
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Re: What would you do

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Wed Aug 26, 2009 6:00 pm

I like both answers and have done both. My call is something like.........suggest another shop and let them know you would be glad to price a project like" an example photo" for these many dollars and be frank that you wouldn't be able to compete on the job as is. This is the time to put a large enuf number that a little humiliation is well worth it....am guessing Tony's experience is a good possible outcome

Roger MacMunn
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Location: Mountain Grove, Ontario

Re: What would you do

Post by Roger MacMunn » Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:05 pm

A slightly different twist ..... about a year ago, a hearing clinic called for a sandblasted sign. They had an existing logo (an ear) that they were married to. I tried incorporating this several different ways but they insisted on the "ear" being the shape of one end of the sign.
I just flat out told them that I was proud of my work & I wasn't about to build something that I'd be ashamed of. They were pretty offended. Oh well :?
A week later, I get a file via e-mail from another shop I do wholesale dimensional work for. You got it ...... but at least no-one knows I made it!
T.R.MacMunn

Jerry Berg
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Re: What would you do

Post by Jerry Berg » Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:21 pm

Roger, sounds like my story!

75% of my work, if not more comes from the other shops. They have me do all the sand blasted signs, hand lettering, wall dogging, etc... I have this habit of trying to improve on artwork provided. I usually end up doing the job one way or the other. I know all the shops and they know me.

When artwork is bad, I allways try to emphisize the importance of a good image. If the client won't listen to reason I recommend another shop. It hurts when I'm needing to be busy, but that's not the reputation I want. For the most part people do listen, most of the time.

erik winkler
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Re: What would you do

Post by erik winkler » Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:23 am

Roger MacMunn wrote:A slightly different twist ..... about a year ago, a hearing clinic called for a sandblasted sign. They had an existing logo (an ear) that they were married to. I tried incorporating this several different ways but they insisted on the "ear" being the shape of one end of the sign.
I just flat out told them that I was proud of my work & I wasn't about to build something that I'd be ashamed of. They were pretty offended. Oh well :?
A week later, I get a file via e-mail from another shop I do wholesale dimensional work for. You got it ...... but at least no-one knows I made it!
HAHAHA THIS IS A GREAT STORY!
When we get these kind of 'shoppers' we allways give them a special price deal: 20% extra.

Erik
Realizing we are in the 2nd renaissance of the arts.
Learn, copy and trying to improve...
Still in the learning phase ;-)
Amsterdam Netherlands
www.ferrywinkler.nl
www.schitterend.eu
www.facebook.com/Schitterend.eu

Kent Smith
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Re: What would you do

Post by Kent Smith » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:28 am

Mark, your next to last sentence is the way I would handle it. Simple and tactful. When asked futher I have told this type of customer that I have a reputation for my designs. If the type of sign they request from other shops is more my style, they will often be sent back to me.

The sad thing is that when you use their design, no one remembers that later and you are stuck with having produced an inferior sign...that they remember.

Doug Bernhardt
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Re: What would you do

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:23 pm

Okay....another little twist. How about that the design might be good but WE don't see it that way. I've become aware that although I don't necessarily like a certain design it doesn't mean it's not good. Sometimes we can get locked into a "style" and lose sight of whats are going on around us. Lets face it though....in this case we're not talking nephew art.

Mike Jackson
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Re: What would you do

Post by Mike Jackson » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:05 am

As I read the original post, I envisioned a layout slightly amateurish, not terrible. So, each post here has to be tempered with how bad the artwork might really be and if doing the project will damage "your/our? reputation. It would be easy for any of us here to take a high road and say we wouldn't touch the job or tell the customer to take it somewhere else, but I think the lesson to be learned or discussed here is exactly what we might say or do to sway the customer into something better. There is always a risk/return when dealing with this type of project. You can waste a lot of time doing a better sketch or showing a better way and still not get the job. In the end, you have to be able to draw a line in the sand that you won't cross, but that line can be a little shifty if the economy is soft. You also have to be able to judge the attitude of the client and make some decisions on the fly.

Good topic!

M. Jackson
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
Teton Images
Jackson Hole photography blog:
Best of the Tetons

Doug Bernhardt
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Re: What would you do

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Fri Aug 28, 2009 8:29 pm

Agreed with Mikey. A number of years ago a start up company dropped into my shop.....owners and graphic artiists. They of course brought artwork ad intended me to be part of their "Business Plan" At the time I was heavily into Pub glass and Carvings and thought their work was mediochre at best.....still do. Since that time they have opened about 10 or 12 locations with signs exactly as they showed me all with prices in access of 20 thousand dollars each. Do I regret my poo-pooing the decision to walk away with the response of above? Not really. The guy who wound up with the contract was an old friend that apprenticed with me ( i gave them his name) and does them to this day....2 or 3 each year. There's another little"experiential" twist.

oatis
Posts: 62
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Re: What would you do

Post by oatis » Thu Sep 10, 2009 7:36 pm

At a Mike Stevens WorkshopI attended in 1988, another attendee asked Mike (himself notoriously critical of substandard design work) what he would do when confronted with an argumentative client such as one the attendee had recently encountered. This client had demanded that the signpainter letter his paper signs "with big letters, right to the edge--because I'm paying for it"--he had no interest in the signpainter's lesson on the value of negative space.

Mike said, "Try to talk 'em out of it, then grab the cash and do what they ask".

His message was that your integrity as an artist would not be compromised by occasionally giving in the demands of a fool, especially one who is willing to pay.

Sage advice, from the master.

Kent Smith
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Re: What would you do

Post by Kent Smith » Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:50 pm

Hmmmm...so a fool and his money are soon parted?

While I agree with Mike to some degree, there are some permanent sign projects that could effect one's reputation. Too many of the fools forget that they controlled the specs and we get the blame for inferior work. This is particularly true when potential customers recognize the poor quality and attribute it to you.

I have told this story many times. I had a bank customer marketing director who needed some really temporary quick cards with lots of copy for the opening ceremony for their new temporaty facility. We had to hand letter them in just a few hours so they were all quick letter and while not sloppy, not our best work. When they opened their permanent facility, they never asked me to even consider their signs, including gold leaf on the doors and windows. Some time later, I discovered that upper management thought I could only do the quick stuff and that it was an indication of the lettering quality I could produce. Not only that, but they somehow spread the word to other bankers and lawyers. It took a few years to overcome that one misunderstanding and develop a level of trust again with that community. I made the decision to not follow that path again which includes not reproducing what I consider to be inferior designs. I may loose some immediate jobs but the payoff is having a reputation for quality work. The unintended cosequence however, is that some think that I am arrogant as well and perhaps high-priced. Hmmm...again.

Raymond Chapman
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Re: What would you do

Post by Raymond Chapman » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:55 am

The level of my response often has to do with the balance in the bank.

For the most part I try to convince my client that we are both on the same side and my job is to make them look good...and in turn that makes me look good. If I can tell them a little bit about "why" their artwork could be made better and that the end result will be better for their image...and pocketbook, then I can help them see my points.

Over the years I have been successful some times and sometimes not. If it's a small, quick job I usually don't bother anymore - just not worth the effort. Also, since a lot of my customers are repeats, I usually can tell if they would listen or not.

If the design is terrible and they won't change, I look at the bank balance and let my conscience be my guide.

Mark Summers
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Re: What would you do

Post by Mark Summers » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:37 am

Lot's of solid points to be taken here. My answer may lie somwhere
in the middle of the varied opinions. Getting involved in low quality
work has it's pitfalls. Telling the customer this isn't the type of work
you do sends another message. Reading the customer is the key.
Swaying them, tactfully, if that's possible should be your first line
of defense. Oh yeah, that pesky bank account.
In the end the customer may just have the original designer make the
sign and not bother me with it. Developing a philosophy about about
the type of work you do and conveying that to the customer should
always be up front. A phrase I use with some customers when they
are comparing their present work to something better is your
old sign is basically spelled right. Hopefully you are coming to me
to give you something with some imagination. Hopefully they don't
get too insulted. We all live (or die) on the basis of comparison.
Some great food for thought with everyones approach.


Mark

Randy Lindahl
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Re: What would you do

Post by Randy Lindahl » Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:16 pm

I would approach the customer as a professional and be ready to give reasons for my critique. Making sure that they knew that my objective was to deliver to them the very best product for their money.
If they would not budge...they would know my thoughts and I would proceed with the job. If by chance they ever needed more artwork they just might keep me in mind.
I think a little education and a little less pride on my part would be best for both parties (unless of course it was really...I mean"Really" bad). :lol:
Randy

cam bortz
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Re: What would you do

Post by cam bortz » Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:51 pm

A lot of good answers here.

Some customers are psychologically caught up in a particular image or idea, but more often than not, it comes down to not having been shown anything better. Case in point - a recent client came in with some professionally produced but very mediocre artwork and a budget of $1000 for a double-sided 4x4 sign (the size and placement were dictated by permit regs). I asked them if they cared to see a "modification" of their artwork, then called them several days later. They came back, saw my design, and agreed on the spot to pay $200 for the artwork and $1600 for the sign. Since then, they've called several times to tell me how much they love the sign and how many complements they get - no buyer's remorse there, in spite of having spent double their original budget, plus whatever they paid the "designer" for their original crummy artwork.

Would I have done the sign with their original art? Probably - but not for their original budget. :P

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