Every creative artist’s dream is to work for a client or agency who trusts in their talent and taste, who respects their professional judgement, and of course, pays on time. Is that really too much to ask? Too often, we hear all sorts of horror stories of burnout, passion that’s dried up, and artists who just gave it up to do something else that pays the bills… the list goes on.

Creatives love doing creative work. But between dealing with administrative tasks and ever-changing briefs, how much time does today’s artist really spend being creative? Ultimately, clients are paying for creativity, for craftsmanship and art. These are the true value that we as artists bring to the table. Yet, we constantly find ourselves torn away from the very thing that we love, in order to “move the logo to the left slightly”, or to work on revision number 9 because “it’s still not working for me”. Then there are times when we are faced with tenders and speculative work — hundreds of man-hours spent on crafting a proposal that might never see the light of day. How about responding to endless requests for quotations just to help a company fulfil the organisation’s requirement for 3 quotations?

Then there is the growing competition from crowdsourcing. There is now an explosion of creative services being offered at rock bottom prices (think $5). It’s incredible that you can crowdsource everything from graphic design to voiceover talent, and even 3d animation, for extremely low rates. Amazingly, there are clients who are willing to endure the agony of sifting through hundreds of design proposals in order to have a new logo for their brand created for just a few hundred dollars. It’s perfectly understandable that an indie app developer or a homebrew craft beer label might choose this path. But it’s astonishing to see even big corporations and universities are increasingly using crowdsourced creative services. The flip side of this is at least there is now an alternative solution for clients who are just looking for the cheapest possible solution. I’m glad that I can point certain customers to Wix and Fiverr.

The internet has been the key ingredient to globalisation; it has enabled collaboration on an epic scale, and opened up opportunities like never before. For us, we’ve been so blessed to work with clients in Hong Kong, like Kids4Kids, and Phokl in Australia. We absolutely love working with clients like these, because they love the work we do, and trust us to do what’s best for their brands. Relationships like these are built on trust and mutual respect, and develop over time. Clients like these who value creativity over price, whose constructive input fuels the creative process, are the kinds of clients that inspire us and compel us to deliver above and beyond what we quoted for.

I found this infographic from iStock really funny, yet true. The creative artist of today faces more challenges than ever before. What do you think of the industry? Is it a love-hate relationship? Are you still in love with what you do?


Founder/Creative Director of Mustard Seed Creative. Andrew has been 'practicing' as a creative professional since 1992 and 'preaching' as an educator since 2004.

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