Turning down client...first time, feels weird.
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  1. #1
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    Turning down client...first time, feels weird.

    Hi

    Just got off the phone with a client who I've been doing a -lot- of work for in recent weeks. One of their artists had their work rejected for a kids story book and now the pressure is on for them to get this book illustrated, like yesterday.

    I was initially approached yesterday to illustrate the first story by Sunday morning (six full colours) which I agreed to and received the contract. Then I received a call asking if I could please illustrate the whole book, 30 full colours by Sunday morning.

    I politely declined, client was very disappointed, but I honestly don't think I am capable of producing that kind of work in that time frame. The money is excellent. I think I did the right thing, but at this early stage in my career, its a strange feeling turning down work. I feel weird, that maybe I should change my mind, but that deadline is just too much for me.

    Anyone have any turn-down experiences they'd like to share?

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    TinyBird is offline Why you gotta be an angry burd Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
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    Well, not a "turn-down" exactly as I had agreed to the job (and it wasn't that hard of a job, technically), but admitting myself that in the end I just couldn't do it (I had just finished my first full illustration gig that went pretty tight on deadlines [because of my own stupidity, no less] which in the end cause a some sort of burn-out and the book for this new job was a really hard read to me) was really damn hard and I still haven't really forgiven myself, but thankfully my client recognized my issues and asked if I'd want to pull back.
    It was like the feeling that I haven't lived up to my artistic pride or skills accentuated by shame with a topping of crushed ego (with slight aftertaste of "oh thank god") when I had to admit I couldn't do it.

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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    Well, not a "turn-down" exactly as I had agreed to the job (and it wasn't that hard of a job, technically), but admitting myself that in the end I just couldn't do it (I had just finished my first full illustration gig that went pretty tight on deadlines [because of my own stupidity, no less] which in the end cause a some sort of burn-out and the book for this new job was a really hard read to me) was really damn hard and I still haven't really forgiven myself, but thankfully my client recognized my issues and asked if I'd want to pull back.
    It was like the feeling that I haven't lived up to my artistic pride or skills accentuated by shame with a topping of crushed ego (with slight aftertaste of "oh thank god") when I had to admit I couldn't do it.
    I can totally relate to -everything- in your post. I haven't pulled back during a job yet, but I've pushed myself harder than I ever thought possible for the previous 3 contracts.

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    Something I learned in a different business where I spent a lot of years freelancing, andwhere reputation matters, is that often you are only as good as your last project. This means, if you take on something where you have to do such a rush job that it wioll be substandard, the onlu thing people tend to reomember is "substandard" and not why, ot that it wasn't your fault... well sort of not your fault. Some people see it as your fault when you accept a project that you know you can't pull off very well.

    I gather those are normal hooman reactions when people hire freelancers, and since art world is also populated by hoomans, I suspect it's the same in the art world.

    Bottom line is, allowing yourself to get pushed into taking on too much, where you have to cut too many corners to make it, can hurt you on a long run.

    Also there may be a small chance that realizing that yhey are asking for too much, they will try to revise a deadline, and offer you the same thing with a bit more time... Small chance, I wouldn't hold my breath though. Who knows what is driving their deadline.

    So, don't feel bad! Pat yourself on the back for having standards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conniekat8 View Post
    Something I learned in a different business where I spent a lot of years freelancing, andwhere reputation matters, is that often you are only as good as your last project. This means, if you take on something where you have to do such a rush job that it wioll be substandard, the onlu thing people tend to reomember is "substandard" and not why, ot that it wasn't your fault... well sort of not your fault. Some people see it as your fault when you accept a project that you know you can't pull off very well.

    I gather those are normal hooman reactions when people hire freelancers, and since art world is also populated by hoomans, I suspect it's the same in the art world.

    Bottom line is, allowing yourself to get pushed into taking on too much, where you have to cut too many corners to make it, can hurt you on a long run.

    Also there may be a small chance that realizing that yhey are asking for too much, they will try to revise a deadline, and offer you the same thing with a bit more time... Small chance, I wouldn't hold my breath though. Who knows what is driving their deadline.

    So, don't feel bad! Pat yourself on the back for having standards.
    Thanks! That helped! I agree, what's the point of having a published reference, if I'm too disappointed to show it off? I am able and willing to rush, but I also feel that too much of it would hurt both myself and the client. I'd rather they look back on the work I've done for them which established me as someone they want to keep hiring.

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    I don't know how detailed your pieces run, but 30 full-color book illustrations in 2 days is obscene. There is no question you did the right thing, so don't stress about it. I don't know what your client was thinking, because there's no way that kind of deadline would produce quality.

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    Thanks Mirana, I agree. I was stressing about it, especially because the client was really disappointed when I said no. I think its a conflict between the two depts, with one putting intense pressure on the other.

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    Um, yeah, that is an utterly absurd deadline, you were right to turn it down.

    Don't worry, turning down work is something you sometimes have to do, and it's completely acceptable. If you're polite about it and can give a good reason for turning down the work, the same client may even come back with better proposals on some other job...

    When I've turned things down it's usually because I'm already working on other jobs and don't have enough time for the new job - in those situations, I try to recommend someone else. In some cases, I might turn down a job because it's some type of work I don't really specialize in and don't want to pursue (though again, I try to recommend someone if I can.)

    In a few cases, I've turned down work because something about the job set off my flaky client alert. For instance, one client had just flaked in a big way on paying the agency I was freelancing for, and then they approached me to see if I could freelance for them directly - knowing their reputation for non-payment, I politely said no.

    And another potential client wanted me to revise a bunch of Flash files for their site... seemed straightforward until I found out that I wouldn't be able to get the source files, so I'd have to re-do all of them from scratch; AND the reason I couldn't get the source files was because the last Flash person had sabotaged the originals after the client refused to pay him. So I proposed an extremely high price to cover the hassle the job would entail, with a significant amount paid up-front, and that effectively got rid of the client. (They didn't seem keen on paying people.)

    That's actually a pretty good way to deal with potential nightmare jobs if you're not sure you want to do them - add extra "hassle charges" to your price. Either the client will back off from the offer themselves, or they'll pay you extra. And if they are willing to pay extra - well, at least you're getting compensated for the extra hassle.

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    There's nothing wrong with turning down something you can't do; what's the alternative, say yes and not do it well/on time/both? Which do you think is a bigger problem for a client? You're doing them a favor by not promising something you can't deliver.


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    @ QueenGwenevere: Interesting reading, yeah I'm pretty strict about certain things. For smaller clients, either full payment or 50 upfront (depending on the job) for publishers, I have to have the contracts signed.

    @ Elwell: Yeah, I remembered you mentioned something like that to me before, sorry pops! Its just been a real rush recently going from getting publisher commissions to actually saying no to publishers.

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    Besides: Any company that would even ask for that much work in that short amount of time should really be accustomed to getting turned down. Unless they're offering an ungodly amount of money there's just no need for a job like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Star Eater View Post
    Thanks Mirana, I agree. I was stressing about it, especially because the client was really disappointed when I said no. I think its a conflict between the two depts, with one putting intense pressure on the other.
    Don't worry too much about the client's reaction--in this kind of scenario, the client is going to be disappointed no matter what.
    1) They will be disappointed if you turn down the job.
    2) They will be disappointed if you take the job, but then have to pull out later because of the crazy deadline.
    3) They will be disappointed if you take the job and then inevitably have to turn in work that is late and/or shoddy.

    It's a no-win situation and you chose the option with the LEAST disappointment.

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    Early in my career I had a similar proposal. A two page spread with 32 characters on it, style: realistic, deadline: next morning. I got the assignment on 4 pm.

    I was dumb enough to agree and failed horribly. I learned from that and it happened never again, because I know now where my boundaries are. It really is better to say no upfront, instead of failing later, because than you f*cked up yourself *and* your client.

    I was extremely lucky with this client though. Some weeks later I got another project from them and everything went well.

    It was a hard and unpleasant lesson, but I learned a lot form it. You did exactly the right thing.

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    Thanks Noah, Emily and wow, Sascha, thanks for sharing that! I can imagine how harrowing it must have been to try get it all done.

    Almost done with the latest contract, (the smaller one I did agree to.) will be FTPing the stuff tonight and getting some much needed rest.

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