September 30, 2014 | By:

You Have An Ugly Baby

Visual Communication is a unique skill set that not everyone has (in your face Peyton Manning), but it is important to know that graphic design is not infallible. I am knocking on the door of year 10 as a professional creative designer and only in the last few years have I finally developed THE tool necessary for this industry. This slow-to-grow gift is not solely beneficial to the advertising community but it is oh-so-precious since it is utilized every day. On the whole, I highly recommend everyone cultivate this powerful weapon and then adhere to the subsequent truth.

The gift I’m alluding to is “Thick Skin” and the aforementioned truth, I’ll get to. But I want to paint the picture more clearly as many simply think of “Thick Skin” as being able to take a punch, endure a cut, hold a steely gaze whilst getting kicked in the nuts. Feedback is so valuable to a designer as it is the only way to take a diamond from the rough and polish it into a glittering gem worthy of a gilded crown. I always appreciate a reticent client that doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. I appreciate it because it tricks me into feeling like I hit the nail on the head. Mmm delicious false feelings of hope are like a 5 Guys Cheeseburger – empty calories and perfect for killing me. If a creative misses the nail and no one sounds the alarm, that which we are building will fall apart and horrible pointy deaths will ensue…or at the very least it’s back to the drawing board and missed deadlines.

When I was younger the last thing I wanted was for a client to voice their opinion. God bless Ethel but she’s SO NOT WITH IT. That logo, that web comp, that creative commercial concept is my baby and it was perfect! A gift from god for all to adore and fawn over. I didn’t want anyone touching my baby or looking at it too hard. I was far too fragile..I mean the baby was too fragile. It took time to realize that sometimes my babies are ugly, minus a toe or elbow…maybe a little slow too. I know for a fact that several times I’ve let my ugly dim witted babies out into public because I was just too proud. Luckily at Ilfusion I have a great creative team that works hard to make sure that all my creations are the best they can be. Only after that do we let clients play with our kids so that no matter what – good turns to great… or great turns to epic.

“Thick skin” goes both ways though. Creative isn’t always gold and critics aren’t always 100% right. Honestly, who truly had the final say on that website you’re coming to us to update? Our clients pay for effective designs not to win the “blue is too bluey” debate. An agency doesn’t serve their client-partners well if “yes” trumps results. Like creatives, clients can get a bit of blindness with their baby, too. Agencies are always a little squeamish to hurt a client’s feelings, but sometimes a client can make a bad call that can damage the effectiveness of the design or the “idea”. Ilfusion always practices a great improvisational technique called “Yes and – No but”. This is a great way to foster an environment of collaboration and not shut down the We’re-in-this-together show.

Now let’s get to that truth I mentioned earlier. The truth is agencies and clients want to end up with something that works, something that really delivers results and improves business. We are all trying to make our products better so that we can see success. Ilfusion thrives when our clients feel empowered and their investment pays off. My thick skin came with years of “healthy critique” but what makes me a great Creative Director is knowing the subsequent truth: we all just want the best and are working hard to avoid having an ugly baby.

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