1. Help them Understand Work Processes and Industry Standards
Situate your client and clearly outline expectations from the start. Explain your work process by being precise in your deliverables, number of revisions and how your work flow fits into how the brief will be implemented/ manufacturing processes. Have a solid contract before starting any work that follows industry standards (the Association of Illustrators AOI has great resources and contract support for its members) and perhaps supplement the terms and conditions with an easy to understand version along with diagrams and sample works.
2. Provide them with Clear Documentation
Recap every meeting with a written summary. It doesn't have to be long but it should document key decisions. This also serves as an agenda to get everyone on schedule and as a record of your progress. In the unfortunate event of disputes, a detailed written record could help you protect your liability and secure your rightful fees.
3. Accountability is Key
Never miss a deadline and if you may need some more time let the client know as soon as possible. I think accountability is an expression of genuine care for the work that you produce. You are letting the client know that this job is important to you and that your strive for excellence in your execution too. I think if they perceive this, they may feel a greater connection to you which fosters a respectful and collaborative working relationship.
4. Think in Their Shoes
If you were the client, how might you want to use the illustration that you commission? Would you have concerns about usage rights and the level of feedback you can give the artist? How often would you want the artist to give you updates? Would you prefer collaboration models that allow for greater future flexibility?
5. Offer New Ideas
I feel that illustration is not created simply by fulfilling the project deliverables (the specifications of the work). We are always mindful of the end usage of the illustration and how it communicates to the intended audience. We also think about user experience and how the work is encountered, comprehended and remembered. Don't be afraid to share ideas on how you can enhance this experience as we don't just simply output visual media but are also engulfed in the expression of creative communication.
Thanks so much for reading till the end! Stay tuned for 5 more tips on this topic. I would love to hear your thoughts via instagram: @natalie.illustration