If you are at all creative you have, at some point, been roped into doing something special for someone. Some of those times, at least once, things snowballed and you ended up with a much bigger commitment than you had originally intentioned. At least, I know it has happened to me. Automatically such projects garner a PITA* factor in their pricing down the road.
I was part of a discussion today about a custom order and some of the pros and cons. I won’t discuss the specifics as it’s not my place to say, but a difference in colour expectations came up. I immediately thought of the difference between how a creative person, (one who creates with colour) will describe a colour versus another, less-inclined, person. I thought of the time my husband and I both took a little test on how many colours you could name in five minutes. Now, I was frustrated most of the time because it wouldn’t accept many of the names I was entering, I’m a poor speller so that didn’t help. He won’t mind me telling you that I had him beat in no time flat. I just found it again and tried once more.. not too impressive but there it is. (I thought I had 80ish the first time?hmm).
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site
The point I’m heading towards is that many a customer who would like you to make something “blue” has a shade of blue in their head and may not have the vocabulary to tell you which blue. Enter my secret weapon of custom order success: The Color Scheme Bible by Anna Starmer
Not only does it help you narrow down the shade of blue they may have in mind, but the variety of palettes can help lead the conversation about other colours you may bring into the design. Frankly, sometimes people don’t know what they want until they see it and I’ve found this to be a useful tool as a block of colour they can point at.
For instance, I’m not much of a yellow person so I find that section very helpful for talking about a warm yellow versus a cold yellow and what it might pair nicely with. Top right above I actually found a little post-it note from a vase I made for a work colleague. The little circle you see is a sample mix, cured, so I can see the match. Bottom right, you can see some of the mixes I sampled from the pendant to create my BSBP piece.
Custom work can be so rewarding when the expectations are clear on both ends. I’ve been lucky that all my customers have been thrilled with what I have made for them. Perhaps lucky is the wrong word though, because I’ve been choosey about what I take on for custom work. I’ve had the chance to meet people at shows, they’ve seen the style and quality of my work and have given me a wide berth. I’ve also had the liberty to approach the work as an opportunity to work in a different colour scheme or design than I normally would. With the future end result uncertain I have been comfortable to embark on the work without initial deposit from the customer. I’m not saying that’s the way to do it. It is a strategy though that has worked for me, to give the customer complete freedom to walk away if it’s not what they are looking for. In return, I feel I gain more creative space to explore the idea and let me make something that fits with my aesthetic. You see I’ve only taken on creating things I’ve been drawn to in some way.
It’s a delicate balance of course. No one really ever wants to say no when a customer is asking for you to create something special. Certainly, a flat NO has never crossed my lips. I have discussed ideas with people and politely explained that either due to time constraints, practical limitations, or some other honest reason, I need to decline. I stress honest since I think everyone has a BS sniffer, take a deep breath, find a way to say no nicely if you need to.
I haven't had custom work come up yet online but I imagine Design Seeds , and their palette search tool may be a good virtual replacement for my trusty book.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!
*In case you aren’t familiar PITA is the “Pain In The Ass” factor - the magical number where you may consider doing something you aren’t too keen on doing for you “regular” type rate.