I was giving a friend of mine advice on how to really capture the imagination and interest of a contractor and (hopefully) negotiate a lower rate, and I broke it down in a way that may be helpful to selling your ideas to someone. I’ve broken my method down into a simple three-step process.
Let’s say you have a painting you want to have made, and you have a basic idea of what you want in it and where, but there are other elements you’re not so clear on. You want to bring in an artist that’s smart and effective and will leave his mark on your work and make it better. If you didn’t want to give someone room to use their skill, you’d do it yourself. 🙂 The first step is
1) Infect them with your passion.
So far the best way I’ve found to bring someone on board something and get the best results is to really sell them on the concept. Get a sense of the work they have in their portfolio and how it’s similar to what you want. Give them a basic idea of your project book story character whatever, and make it sound gripping, captivating and exciting, and show the passion you have for it.
Don’t go into meaningless detail on this or that, and avoid being clinical at all costs. You can be specific while still leaving things artfully open-ended, and tap into common and easily communicated themes and concepts that tend to get people amped up and excited. Make it sound totally unique and different from anything they ever could have worked on before.
Passion is highly contagious. Creative people are especially prone to contracting it. 🙂
Once they’re hooked, I move onto the next step, which is
2) Define what you want.
Now that they’re excited about it, explain exactly what it is you want them to do. Take what solid, concrete ideas you have, and communicate the essence of the concept as simply as you can. This should be in fairly broad strokes, so leave out the number of wrinkles in the face or the color of his clothes if it’s not vitally important.
Paint a reasonably detailed mental picture that still has blanks to be filled in. But when you explain it, make it clear that your ideas are fairly well developed and that there is a particular look that you’re going for, and that he shouldn’t stray too much.
But it’s important to leave some parts of the image deliberately fuzzy, to give them some extra room to work with. Which leads me to the final step:
3) Give them a playground.
Once you have them really psyched up about the idea and the work, and you’ve laid down the ground rules and let them know where to tread lightly, take what fuzzy and undefined parts of the concept you want created and talk them up even more. Take an example of some of their other work, or something you think (or know) they love that suits your purposes, show it to them and say something like “I REALLY like what you did in [url to image] and [url to image], and I think it’d be really cool if you could go in a direction like that with the background. I trust your judgment for cool stuff like that, so go crazy! I’m really excited to see what you come up with! :)”
The point is not to lay down so many creative constraints that they feel choked off or stifled. And, conversely, to take the areas that you KNOW are undeveloped and make them sound mysterious and exciting, and make them WANT to fill them out and infuse them with their creativity.
I find that if I don’t make the areas I haven’t got a clear idea of sound interesting, it ends up sounding boring and undefined and I’ve essentially given them no incentive to even try to make it interesting. And, naturally, their creativity finds an outlet in areas I don’t want them to get too creative on.
If I give them a very clearly defined area in which to be creative, they’ll go nuts with that and make something really fun and interesting, and deliver on the core concept I gave them.
That’s one of the more interesting lessons I’ve learned in the past few months. If you just give someone a sense of your passion and excitement about the work you’re giving them, lay down a few ground rules and then give them a little playground to play in, you can get some pretty tremendous results that you wouldn’t have gotten if you’d been too specific or too vague.
By doing it this way, I’ve had phenomenal luck negotiating lower rates and longer contracts out of some mindblowingly talented and hard-to-get artists simply because I got them to care about what they did and let them have fun doing it. 🙂