"I think the situation is that there are art directors out there who I'm sure think I'm a total bastard to work with, and there are art directors out there who think I'm a complete dream to work with...and I think its in direct relation to how much they try and change me, basically. If I get an art director who likes what I do -that's why I'm doing it in the first place - and then trusts me to do it, and trusts that I know my audience and that I won't just mess around...I'm doing the project because I really feel something for it, I want to do it as best as possible...if theres that air of trust, then we get on famously and I have wonderful working relationships with art directors and designers.
But the ones who come with preconceptions and want me to change and do something else...it gets very testy. Because really I just like to be left alone to do my own thing, and so I'm just not appropriate for those jobs that need tonnes of roughs and tonnes of development and constant changing, I'd rather not do that. I don't like doing roughs because the roughs just kill it for me. I like to work out the piece as I'm doing it and allow for mistakes and for inspiration and abstraction - for things just to happen." - Dave McKean, (in an interview with Escape From Illustration Island - podcast episode 61)
I am taking comfort in this after working for a month on what became a particularly illustration job. If you agree to do a lot of freelance work for someone, it is probably advisable to write a cancellation clause into your contract stipulating how much you would need to be paid if the job is cancelled. Preferably more than the miserly fraction I was left with.
I'm relieved that it wasn't my first illustration job, because it would have put me off for good: constant changes, 3 switches in style (from full colour pen and ink characters, to green silhouettes in adobe illustrator and then on to limited palate brush and ink), breakdowns in communication, weekend work at no notice, and the vaguest of requests for changes, "can you make it generic yet stylised?" all sent via a design group.
I realise now how much I value being able to actually communicate with a client properly, and how important it is that the client trusts me to do my job. Just as you believe a pharmacist or a plumber or a surgeon can do their job without needing your advice. Why shouldn't it work like that? Why should illustrators and designers be at the behest of their clients, instead of the other way around? This approach of letting a client dictate what they want the design to look like leads to such a sad, watered down, bland end product, leeched of any genuine mark of personality or creativity.
On a positive note, the whole experience has made me able to work faster (sometimes managing 5 illustrations a day) but mostly it has really made me value the clients I've worked with prior to this, who have all been such a joy to work with - helpful, enlightened, articulate, thoughtful - and I am truly grateful to them for trusting me.