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“Knowing we are hired on as experts, it can be TOUGH to feel super proud and SO sure of a concept, only to realize we didn’t hit the mark… The key is to turn not-so-great feedback into productive forward-motion, and this is ALLLL in the process.”

Receiving Feedback as a Creative (and Knowing When to Walk Away)

Client: “Honestly, I don’t like it.”

You: *Barfs internally.*

Those three words are every creative’s nightmare. 
Yes, we’ve actually heard them. 
Via email, over the phone, and the worrrrrst: face to face.

In service-based work, the goal is always to exceed client expectations. In creation-based work, the goal is honour your creative integrity and express yourself through your art. Juggling both is a forever-challenge. Your creative understanding, skill, and expertise deserve respect – but so do the needs + goals + opinions of your clients.

Like most designers in our field, we are constantly absorbing. Our eyes are open to design trends everywhere we go, and we bank hours of extensive research to be aware of their effectiveness. It’s up to us to make decisions about whether a specific direction will appeal to the intended audience. Knowing we are hired on as experts, it can be TOUGH to feel super proud and SO sure of a concept, only to realize we didn’t hit the mark.

It has taken us almost two years to recognize that just because it may have fallen onto unimpressed eyes doesn’t mean we’re doing “bad” work. It’s quite literally impossible for everyone on earth to love everything we put forth (and we have so much more evolving to do) – but we’ve honed in on a few ways to approach concepts with a lot more certainty, and take feedback openly, with excitement for what comes next.

Feedback, in its truest form, opens the door for compassionate collaboration and honest communication.

The key is to turn not-so-great feedback into productive forward-motion, and this is ALLLL in the process.

Develop your process, and keep it SIMPLE.

We set feedback boundaries by asking that all project feedback be returned to us in a single written online document, either email or a shared Google doc. This one is MAJOR. Setting feedback expectations and guidelines helps to make sure you’re prepared for what’s coming your way (i.e. no “I think we need to start over” texts comin’ at you in the middle of the night), but also gives the client time and space to organize their thoughts, put things in writing, and eliminates any knee-jerk responses that may bruise your creative ego unnecessarily.

Guidance is obviously, GUIDANCE.

Offering comprehensive, guided questionnaires throughout the refinement process helps to make sure you’re approaching feedback from a place of understanding, and achieves a streamlined, CLEAR method of communication.

Never stop creating just for YOU.

Make time to create things that make you happy. Whether it’s to showcase in your portfolio, or your fridge, or you erase it when you’re done – have fun, get excited, EXPLORE without opinions or limitations.

Remember: Creativity comes from LOVE.

If you don’t love what you’re doing, it shows through in the work you produce. Your client deserves someone who is going to show up for them 110%, and YOU deserve to wake up every day and do meaningful work that inspires you. Most times, those things can coexist under one project – but sometimes, it’s okay to have a collaborative discussion that ends in parting ways.

One more time: it’s okay to have a collaborative discussion that ends in parting ways.

Next week, we’ll be diving deeper into teaching you how to more effectively manage your SELF, and the members of your creative team. By the time 2020 rolls in, we’ll have you fostering your most efficient creative-process and a knowledge of how to achieve an end result you’ll be totally obsessed with.

Keep dreaming,
The Appleyards.

Follow along @ohsierracreative, and subscribe for ongoing updates, resources, and tips here.

December 2, 2019

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