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Working Successfully with Clients: A Class for Illustrators and Designers

Lesson 16 of 19

Ask Questions!

Lisa Congdon

Working Successfully with Clients: A Class for Illustrators and Designers

Lisa Congdon

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Lesson Info

16. Ask Questions!

Lesson Info

Ask Questions!

Once a sketch is approved, you are ready to move on to final artwork. But first ... Let's talk for a second about asking questions during the assignment. So, always follow the nine indicators of good communication that we talked about earlier, but one of the questions I get the most often is: From people that I've mentored or young illustrators is like, "I'm in the middle of this assignment. "I'm really confused about what I'm supposed to do next." Or, "They tell me to go this direction but it's not working. "I don't know what to do, I have all these questions. "Can I email the client? "Am I bothering the client? "Should I try to figure this out on my own? "Or should I ask questions?" Any of you been in that situation before? Yeah, it's hard. The answer to that is usually, no, you're not bothering the client. It's better to ask questions and risk being a little pesky and annoying, than to deliver work that is not on point, right? But, before you email the client, make sure you read the...

creative brief plus all the emails you received to make sure the information you're looking for isn't already there. Okay? Compile all of your questions into one list, just like we talked about earlier And then, write one email at a time with as many questions like, succinct questions bulleted out. When to email the client: You can't find the answers to your questions in the creative brief or the notes or previous email communication. Okay? The creative process is messy, and sometimes things seem so straight forward when you start, right? And then you sit down to draw the thing, or concept the thing, and then you're like, oh, what, I never thought about this. Or wait, this is looking a little strange. Is that really what they wanted? Or, you know, whatever, like, questions come up. Sometimes the assignment is taking you longer than you thought and you may need an extension. Get really clear on whether or not you think you need more time, and don't be afraid to ask. It's always better to ask for more time in the middle of the process than at the end of a process. Clients often expect you to ask for an extension. I'm not saying abuse it (laughs). To like, party or be lazy. But if you have legitimately been working hard and you're still not making progress or you don't feel, you feel like another day, like oftentimes what I'll say is: I've been working on this since yesterday. I feel like I'm making really good progress, but I feel like if I had another 24 hours, it would be so much better. Any chance I can turn this in tomorrow instead? And most of the time the answer is yes, especially if you're like, working within the frame of the deadline, 'cause sometimes in the middle of a project you're talking about intermediate deadlines, not the final deadline. You're encountering a conundrum that you hadn't expected in the work, always ask the client. Remember to use our guidelines for effective communication every time you send an email or make a phone call. Too many complicated questions? Get on the phone!

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers. 

Establishing yourself as a professional illustrator or designer requires a lot of dedication to building skill, brand and visibility. Equally important, yet often underestimated, is the development of client interaction skills. Working with clients takes practice! It’s not easy and it’s not always intuitive. Knowing how to communicate with clients clearly and effectively is a skill that will ultimately set you apart as a professional illustrator.

Fine artist, illustrator and author Lisa Congdon has worked with over 75 clients around the world, including MoMA, REI Co-op, Harvard University, Martha Stewart Living, Chronicle Books, and Random House Publishing, among many others. In this class she will share the knowledge she has acquired during her successful career, highlighting time-proven strategies for working effectively with clients. She will also discuss common mistakes to avoid when dealing with clients.

Lisa will teach you the skills you need to enter into client relationships with clarity and confidence.

In this class you will learn:

  • How to communicate effectively and professionally with potential clients.
  • What questions to ask when being approached by a potential client
  • What to look for in a creative brief
  • How to consider phases and deliverables of a project
  • How to consider fee negotiation.
  • How to read through a contract.
  • How to address change of project scope with a client.
  • And so much more...


Caroline Fidelaire

Great class packed very useful tips for entrepreneurs in illustration and design and great email examples on how to: - respectfully and gratefully communicate with clients in the diverse phases of the production line - negotiate a contract and your fees - how to proceed to bidding for a work contract Lisa is a wonderful speaker. A wonderful class well worth its 3 hours length.

Scavenger Annie

Right from the start of class Lisa offers up her pearls of wisdom. Absolutely jam-packed with information on working with clients, illustration agents & art directors in the commercial world. All very relevant to other careers in the creative realm too, especially when Lisa talks about the language & negotiation of contracts. Clear, concise teaching & my fingers are burning from typing so fast as I made notes! A wonderful class that has motivated me to pursue commercial illustration with my brand Northern Bird Designs. Thank you for the top guidance & inspiration Lisa! Looking forward to the next class on managing workflows.

Neelam Kaur

Lisa has immense knowledge about the industry and she shares the same with Artist Community in the form of Books, E-courses, Workshops. This class is jam-packed with great information which as an Freelance or as an New Illustrator we struggle and feel we had someone to help us understand. And I must say, the Skillshare & CreativeBug Classes other than Creative Live Classes, she focuses it all from an artist standpoint. As a Freelance Illustrator Artist I struggled managing the other aspects of my Art Business which I feel so confident after this class. And most of all I know my worth! Thank you Lisa!