Or you get the puppy-eye look for "a favour" and in the end you end up doing things you didn't really want and spending weeks of your free time on it. And it leaves a sour aftertaste because you think "Dang, why didn't I...?"
Yes... why haven't you?
I have to admit the "we need ten million changes" problem is still a problem I face mostly on a daily base. It's okay if you get payed for it. Gods, I'll do a million changes if it gets payed and if these changes are reasonable. and I experienced such a "we need changes" problem and in the end it was a mixture of fine negotiation, making a lot of compromises and doing (bearable) changes. But within boundaries. Because you really want to have a happy customer. If you want to work with the company/ person again. If.
When I meet other artists the "saying no" problem is one of the worst for everybody.
Where to set boundaries without being rude, bitchy, unprofessional or even unwilling?
It's hard. It really is.
If the offer is something you don't want to do you have different options how to react and handle the situation.
The first thing you have to learn is to say:
Simply put. Try it out. To the screen, to friends and to the worst offers you get. Sometimes you might end up simply deleting the really bad offers but "No" is the beginning of a wonderful friendship between you and self-esteem.
Don't ever feel guilty to get away from being shanghaied into doing something you are not comfortable with. Somebody gets grabby hands in reality? "No!"... somebody gets grabby hands when it comes to your free time and work and creativity and you don't want it? NO!
Understand that you should never feel obligated to explain your refusal if it makes you really uncomfortable. Nobody should expect to get a complete explanation and it's not as if you are bound to discuss your decision. You might get lured into feeling guilty (here comes the puppy eyes problem) and "everybody works for free on this project". Okay... so some people enjoy spending time on something they 100%ly believe in and that's their "baby". If you don't get all excited and sweating and having sparkles in your eyes and if you're not 100%ly convinced this thing -whatever it is- pays off... say no.
All this sounds egoistic?
Yes. It is. Every day you have to make decisions and in the end it boils down to things that are good for you.
This is not about the happy stuff you love to do. This is about the things that push you out of your comfort zone.
If you want to help out a friend or think a project is really cool. Do it. Really. Saying no means you might end up having more time for things you enjoy creating and where you can pour your heart and soul into without having the gnawing feeling it was a bad decision to say "yes".
How to say "No" politely:
You might hurt feelings and make somebody unhappy. That's a given fact. The person spend some time writing you a really nice email and attach some files and explain. It looks all so awfully nice, you just can't simply answer "No thanks."
Okay.... as long as you have already decided you have to say "no" (and stick to it) here's what you can do:
"Hello XY. Thanks for the offer and your email. I really appreciate it, but..."
But what? You don't like the offer, you have no time, you really NEVER EVER want to work for them? Okay, trust me it's okay. You are allowed to think it and a lot more.
Make sure to make your decision final. Don't leave any space for second mails, guesses and "but maybe later".
"Hello XY. Thanks for the offer and your email. I really appreciate it, but I'm currently booked out and have no slots for additional art."
You might end up getting:
"Okay, so what about later? Hey, I can wait some weeks."
And tadaa, you're in the middle of a pretty uncomfortable discussion and might end up shanghaied anyway.
"Hello XY. Thanks for the offer and your email. I really appreciate it, but I have to decline the offer. Thanks again and I hope you find another artist to commission. Kind regards"
How does it sound? Hopefully pretty final. You might end up getting a "why" (which I'd consider rude) but keep in mind that you don't have to explain your reason. Don't feel obligated if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
The bad part:
Feeling guilty. Honestly, you will always have these moments. I don't want to encourage anybody being the good samaritan for everbody and also not becoming the bitch perfect. You have to find a balance between what you want and what people want from you. Don't let yourself get sucked into an unpayed black burn-out hole that makes you feel not only guilty but also very unhappy.
If you are about to start a project, it's always good to make some sort of Stick list and make sure the commissioning person knows your boundaries.
It's the best if you send a sum-up with the job description, what you feel obligated to do (concept, inks and final coloration) and what's the price. State if you're willing to include changes and what's your definition of changes and WHEN you are willing to include these (concept... a must, concept after you started inking... not likely funny... changes in color if you are colorating- totally okay). Ask if the sum-up is correct and if he agrees. If you get an agreement it will be the base of every discussion you might stumble into.
One customer told me he simply expected all the asked corrections to be included into a really low price because "other illustrators do it as well". Okay, so that's others. But the "others" is not you. You made a price for one design and the concept was approved and in the end he wants something totally different and others happily said yes? Sorry, but that's not your problem.
I know this is tricky and hard but you have to stand your ground. Sometimes it's really important and if you have one customer from hell you have to grow on the challenge. Embrace the challenge and see if you can manage to make clear what's okay and what is totally not okay.
I hope this helps some beginners. If you have a completely different opinion it's okay and in the end it's up to you how you handle these situations. I experienced that it's always a big plus when you're able to decline an offer politely. Some people might end up not understanding it anyway but at least you can say you tried.
Who will be mostly offline up from Friday.
And since some people asked if I keep my last name. Yes! But that's another long story and mostly related to my job.