17 / 08 / 16

A humorous look at the high cost of meddling

Recently I decided to take my own good advice and think about refreshing my sadly out-of-date and neglected art website which I use to promote my alter ego Lennon Art. Pay attention to the word ego here because I’ll come back to it.

Artist’s websites are notorious for being awful at best. There are of course millions of bad sites on the web in every sector, but artists really seemed to have taken this to a whole new level. Search around and you’ll find some wonderful examples of incomprehensible crazy concepts, a lack of regard for appropriate typography, an ignorance of accessibility and usability issues and all nicely underpinned by an overall embarrassing amateurism. Sorry if that sounds too harsh. There are of course many exceptions out there but I wouldn’t be able to make my point clearly if I was being rational and fair and not chance a little rant for literary effect!

So why are many artist’s websites so poor when their work, by direct contrast, exudes technical expertise and a mature aesthetic sensibility? My thinking is that they are too close to it and have an overwhelming need to control. Many artists (and other business people) have a “if I want something done right, I have to do it myself” mentality. It is inconceivable that they don’t do it all by themselves in the same way that they can conceptualise and painstakingly craft their chef d’oeuvre.

“The creative artist seems to be almost the only kind of man that you could never meet on neutral ground. You can only meet him as an artist. He sees nothing objectively because his own ego is always in the foreground of every picture.”

Raymond Chandler

Yes I told you we’d come back to the ego word. I’ll stop insulting the artistic community though and we can talk about ego and the ‘art of letting go’ in broad terms that speak to all. This ego thing can prevent you from getting people to work with you in a positive way and often create a barrier to getting things done and achieving success. You may think that you’ve brought in an expert web designer, for example, but if you micro-manage and dictate until you get YOUR way then the reality is that you’ve paid for an expert and used a technician who just presses the buttons! The project is then of course harnessed by your limitations rather than being enhanced by their experience.

There’s an amusing image from a graphic design agency currently being bounced back on forth on social media that neatly sums up the cost of the client meddling in the process:

THE PRICE LIST

  • We design everything £500
  • We design you watch £750
  • We design you advise £1,000
  • You design, we advise £1,500
  • You design, we watch £3,000
  • You design everything £6,000…OK point taken.
    • Don’t dabble

      There are a few people out there who can paint like Picasso, write like Orwell and knock out a tune better than Paul Weller whilst standing on one leg, but believe me they are rare - like the mythical unicorn they are often talked about but seldom seen! For us mere mortals we’d be far better off focusing our time and energy on our own area of expertise and don’t dabble.

      "Never rub another man’s rhubarb"

      The Joker

      Step back and don’t interfere

      Whether you’re a goatee bearded creative or a more conventional, suited and booted business person, one of the major keys to success is the ability to effectively delegate tasks. For those of you who have difficulty, like me, in switching off; wanting to oversee everything, you’ll need to do the unthinkable; take a deep breath, bring in the expert and then just let go. Easier said than done I know, but there’s a definite advantage to having an external voice giving you advice. Someone who doesn’t have a vested interest will have an objective point of view and tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. The skill here is in selecting the RIGHT person for the given task, empowering them, and then stepping back to avoid interfering in the process.

      Give clear direction

      In order to do this you must be clear in your own mind about your expectations and goals and only then deliver the brief. Think about it.

      Just let it go

      Bringing in expert help sound’s like the expensive option but to use that old threadbare saying, ‘sometimes you have to spend money to make money’. Neatly wrapping up this little piece and bringing the conclusion back to the door of the artistic community. The hand-knitted website may impress your friends and family but if you’re trying to have your art seen by gallery owners, reviewers and the other mythical creatures - the prospective buyers, how you present your work can makes a big difference to your credibility, reputation and sales.
      Lesson: practice your art but work on the art of letting go.

      PS The Lennon Art new website is still under construction but you can view the old one here www.lennon-art.co.uk