In my last post I wrote out some of the details specific to the variety of artist that I work with. This time I will go into some of the major Do’s and Don’ts of dealing with these strange creatures.
Do’s and Don’ts For Training Your Artist
DON’T: let their artistic perfectionism control your time.
Remind them it is a business
DON’T give them the freedom to take over.
If you allow your little cartoonist to take over, he will almost immediately get lost in the labyrinthine quagmire that is his own imagination, setting all important tasks aside in favor of his pet project.
DON’T let them fall into “commercial artist syndrome”
Most commercial artists such as cartoonists, animators, ad designers, graphic designers, and web designers given a chance, will want to emphasize “art” and often forget to address commercial appeal.
DON’T believe their carefully disguised tricks and excuses to avoid responsibility or extend deadlines
If you do not show authority toward the artist, he will be difficult to train.
DON’T ask them to wake up early
(Artists, esp. EACs, generally don’t function well until after 11am) Don’t make the classical mistake that many over-enthusiastic PMs do: don’t ask them to wake up at 6 a.m. thinking they can get more work done – they will be moaning, groaning, and complaining throughout the whole day. Also don’t even think about asking them to go to the gym at 7 am.
DON’T ask them to read books on planning or how to manage themselves.
This is a complete waste of your time and energy, they will never take it seriously, let alone do it. They will come up with millions of reasons why this and this book is not good, or try to explain why this or that self-help author “spouts nothing but psychobabble”, etc. Instead, make sure any reading assignment you give contains illustrations.
That part on goal sheets is incredible, it’s going to look so great when I fold it into an elephant!
DON’T tease them, yell at them, be cruelly ironic, or sarcastic.
Be especially careful if such action stands to bruise their ego regarding work. Artists are very sensitive when it comes to their work.
DON’T use the word FEEDBACK.
Remember, artists are generally apathetic toward business talk, but can become very aggressive when such terms are used in deference to their work. Words like “feedback”, when used in the wrong context can make them feel especially threatened. Art for them is art, not business. Instead try to use words that sound less threatening such as, “Suggestion” .
As an extension of this, don’t expect them to collect feedback or suggestions from customers. Most breeds do not care to hear customer feedback, but instead are only keen to hear commentary from other artists. When exposed to customer feedback Commercial Artist breeds are prone to selective hearing, taking in only those comments that reflect their viewpoint and ignoring any negative comments, sometimes going as far as questioning the sanity of the person who made them.
DON’T lose your cool
Some breeds can remain very calm if you do, but all have the potential to go into hysterics. Give yourself a few minutes to regain composure, and after that address them in a stern but level tone.
DON’T try to “correct” their character
Each artist has distinct personality and style that they are usually very proud and protective of.
DON’T be alarmed if your artist is up all night
This is often when they get their best work done.
NEVER ask them to multitask (It’s a mess , trust me）
DO’s: give them rules and limitations of creativity
They need to be given rules to follow, and limitations as to what they are and are not allowed to do.
DO show authority; proper pack leadership
Without proper leadership from their handler, they can be defensive, irresponsible, lack goal orientation, display irritability, obstinacy, and become very quick to bite. Sometimes they may even refuse to be handled. if you do not understand what it means to be a true pack leader, you might be better suited to working with accountants.
The essential discipline tool
DO allow them to socialize （they go stir crazy and will begin to chew your stuff）
DO give them creative tasks
This is their favorite thing. They thrive on creative tasks where they can be totally themselves, and will surprise you with their genial ideas.
DO be patient, even when you want to strangle them.
It is very challenging for a PM to maintain patience especially when you see that he has followed the priority list from F to A and left you without important documents just before an important event starts. Be patient, because even if you are thinking to fire him, remember, the next one won’t be any different. You may want to re-consider the importance of micromanagement in this event.
DO encourage them and complement them on good work.
There isn’t anything on earth that sounds more pleasant to them than hearing how pleased you are. Well placed ego stroking will bring peace to the workplace, if only temporarily so.
DO be forceful and persistent when giving out tasks
Many artists have a short attention span and are apt to return to doing what they want to do, their pet projects.
DO allow them to work from home
Artists love when they get to spend a whole morning in bed, and then get some work done. Office cubicles, 9-5 jobs, and endless meetings are dangerous environments that may lead to them frothing out the mouth.
DO allow them to sneak beer into the studio, go to pubs or other environments with alcohol and art supplies
Artists (EACs especially) display an uncanny knack for creating when slightly inebriated.
DO take away any IDs, bank cards, or other important documents.
Artists have an instinct to lose keys, bus passes, bank cards, passports, cell phones and other important items. They are particularly prone to do this at the most inopportune moments.
Artists can be fun and rewarding to live/work with but before you decide to take on this serious responsibility, be sure to research which particular breed is right for you……etc.
Please let me know about any useful tips I may have missed or share your interesting experience with artists in the comment section below.