Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gold Bolts

> Once upon a time, I was hired to design a student housing apartment complex sign. The direction I received was that they wanted it to be modern—but not too modern, simple, and they wanted it to be very legible (the previous sign had used a thick, heavy, black letter font that was far from easily readable). Other than that, they were open-minded. 
> The client was a married couple who owned and managed the apartments. When I presented my designs, the wife was immediately drawn to one design (which was my favorite too—yay!). The husband looked them over for awhile, then pointed to the same one, saying something like, "I really like this one, but could we maybe add some gold bolts or something?" (internal gasp!) Doing that would go against their request for a modern, simple, legible sign, and besides that, I knew I'd hate it. We reviewed what they had asked for, what they wanted from the sign, then talked through what he hoped gold bolts would accomplish. Turns out he didn't want gold bolts, he was just looking for a way to make i feel heavier. I told them I could achieve what he was after, without adding hardware. I reworked and provided some alterations to their favorite design. In the end, simply making it a little bolder solved his concern. It was a good lesson for me in communication, and working with a client on making sure their needs and desires align, while also being true to what comes naturally to me. 
> Fast-forward many years... Occasionally I'm contacted by a potential client who says, "I love your work..." then as he describes what he's looking for, all of a sudden I think, "He really wants gold bolts!" (I wonder what he saw in my portfolio that would make him think I could design "gold bolts"...). 
> Thankfully, there are lots of styles, and lots of designers. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying, "I appreciate that you like my work, or... I'm grateful that so-and-so told you about me... But what you're asking for is really not something I specialize in. I think your money would be better spent with someone who does a really good job with "gold bolt" design."
> I don't like to turn down potential work, but honestly, I can't design in every style—and I really don't want any "gold bolts" in my portfolio anyway.
(click here to see an earlier post that mentions this project and includes an image).

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