Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Oregon Asian Celebration 2013

Working with clients & the creative process
Each year I look forward to sharing the artwork I create for the Oregon Asian Celebration. This year, the process went pretty smoothly, so I'd like to share you how I go about working with a client, to get the image that will make both sides happy.

I initially met with their graphic designer and discussed the theme. This is the year of the snake, and the theme they wanted to go with is "Choose the path of Awareness". We wanted to focus on the snake, but also balance, harmony, and peace. This was tricky, as most of the art they had looked at from others included snakes, but they seemed to be in threatening poses.

So we started searching the internet for Asian/Indian/Pacific Island images including snakes. We found lots of tattoos, but in our searching, we found the perfect balance of peace, tranquility, and snakes. Here are some of the google image searches that caught our attention.

In our searching, we found this statue, and decided to base our image on this figure. In researching we found that this is a statue of one of the early founders of Yoga, Patanjali. His statue is usually depicted as seen here, with the figure meditating, hooded by cobras. He rests on a series of snake coils.

So, a week or so later, I sent the clients my initial sketches.

Here are some of the initial drawings. Each time, they came back and suggested changes. It is fun to see the progression of a drawing like this. Not that any of these are really bad drawings, they just didn't convey the feeling the client wanted. Some are really rough, some are much cleaner.

When drawing a complex image like this, and knowing that my client will want changes, I make most art versions as two or three layers (the third drawing was a rough sketch, so it did not get the same treatment). Many times your client will say something like: "I like the guy, but the snake tails don't work." By drawing each as a separate layer, it makes it much easier to swap out one part- I don't have to redraw the whole image.

Here is the 2nd version, with the different layers broken apart so you can see how I drew them.

 Finally, after much going back and forth, and getting approval from everyone who needed to see it, I created an image that everyone was happy with. You can see traces of the original statue, but it has more life and feels more open and inviting.

The key to success in freelance illustration is being flexible. A committee rarely likes your favorite version, but remember, you are working for them, so they are paying you for what they want. I really would have had a lot of fun drawing and finishing the 3rd version, but I knew that image would not fly with the committee, so I only sent a rough sketch (I didn't have time to draw it nicely, knowing that the client would not approve it). it also helps that I have worked with them for many years, so I can gauge better what they will and won't like. I still sent in the rough sketch, just on a long shot that they might like it.

A simple tip for working with clients: When you are working on a project like this, try not to send your full, high-res files until the last, or until they are ready to pay you.

In a few days,  I will show you a few steps in the coloring process, and I'll show you the final poster. I hope you enjoy seeing a bit more of the behind-the-scenes process when working with a client.


Trena in Naperville said...

Marianne, Thank you for sharing this process! I have been drawing more and more and had forgotten how much I enjoy it.

Take care and STAY POSITIVE!

Jan Castle said...

WOW...your process is so interesting. I don't draw, but do soooo enjoy your 'how to' posts. TFS!
Paper Hugs,

city said...

thanks for share.