The Artwork of the Consumer Pitch: Why Most Creatives Fail to Earn What They’re Actually Value

Chris Do (appropriately pronounced “dough”, as in slang for money) and his family were refugees who moved from Vietnam to the United States in 1975 when Do was a young boy. Chris was born with an entrepreneurial spirit and tried many child businesses that failed. He had a car wash. He tried to sell crabs that he had caught from the stream. He was selling popsicles to his classmates on a hot day at elementary school, despite a narrow sales window that literally stalled his profits if he wasn’t successful. These signals of a desire to be independent and enterprising would prove to be a harbinger of great things to come.

Chris also grew up loving classic comics. Dreamed of being an artist. “I wanted to be a comic artist because comics are magical. I love the stories … the smell of the paper … the typography and the whole thing.” Do was inspired by books like Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics and spent countless hours honing his skills. But it turns out that being a great comic book artist is really hard, and the dream got out of his reach. “I put that dream aside for a long time. As I got older and things got real, I thought I had to be responsible. Art is not responsible.” Go for something with more stability, like engineering or computer science.

Chris was a good student but didn’t have the dedication and motivation in high school. “It was often a fight because I felt I didn’t fit in.” Chris preferred to ride his skateboard, play video games, and doodle comic art. The result of his lackluster efforts was a rejection of every school he applied to, including UCLA, UC San Diego, and Cal Poly. He ended up at community college to find out something.

It was the early 1990s. No cell phones or internet. Limited channels on cable TV, no Netflix or social media. Nobody had a website. The tools to be created were limited and the barriers to entry high. There was no Adobe Suite or video editing tools that artists have on hand today. And being an entrepreneur or a freelancer wasn’t cool or lively, it was like saying you were unemployed. While working part-time in a T-shirt screen printing business, Th was given access to a Macintosh 512K PC. When he saw how typography and art were done in t-shirt design, Chris was blown away and loved it. He took a few graphic design courses and was quickly hired as an entry level designer.

His hard work paid off and he applied and received a scholarship to the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, where he found his people. These were other creative outsiders like him … Transportation designers had amazing car designs. Film majors who cared deeply about every scene from a Scorsese movie. Fashion designers who knew everything about fabrics and wanted to become the next big name. There were painters and other artists like Chris and for the first time in his life he flourished at the top of his class.

One of the most in-depth lessons in art class came from legendary Professor Roland Young, who went to a series of student sketches … looked through all the doodles … and found the truth … and then made two marks on paper to bring it to life to awaken and connect with a great idea. “I was overwhelmed by his genius, but also mad at myself for not seeing the obvious design solution.” Sometimes art is about seeing the white space or using what is not there. This is a great metaphor for building a business, especially during tough economic times.

Chris learned many lessons at ArtCenter that helped him become the sought-after designer and talented teacher he is today. One of those manifestations of his love for the creative arts is his company TheFutur, which he invented with the goal of teaching a billion people how to make a living from what they love. TheFutur is a community of creatives who exchange ideas. It offers creative courses and modules that enable artists to learn business skills such as negotiating and pitching and more.

I highly recommend watching this Behind the Brand video episode starring Chris Do, which is full of value. But here’s a roundup of how creatives can make what they’re really worth:

1. Learn to say no

The biggest mistake creative people make is when someone reaches out and feels like they can’t say no. You’re doing mental gymnastics to try to close the sale. The pressure to sell is great, especially when you need the money. But don’t compromise your worth or your standards. You may know that the project or client is not right for you. So be an asset and help him find someone. You will be happier and make more money choosing your customers.

2. Place anchor points

Chris tells a great story in the video about a phone call from some famous founders who wanted him to work for them. (Side note: the best book I know about anchors and the psychology of price is Dan Ariely’s Predictably irrational. It’s a book that illustrates the hidden forces that influence our buying decisions.) Chris said, “If you get a call from Get the founders, you can probably assume they can’t afford you. They are there in person to get a better price. If it weren’t for price, they would have sent the marketing director or received the AOR call. “So drop a big anchor price and say something like,” If you can’t spend $ 30,000 with me to talk and explore your project, I’m not the person. ” Then wait and see what happens.

The founders will play this fantasy as it is in the game – although $ 30,000 was probably three times what they intended to pay. But during this time Chris tries to help them find someone or come up with creative ways to get paid for what it’s worth. By leading them to someone else, Chris is confirming a technique that negotiator Chris Voss taught whether he is the favorite or the fool. If he’s the favorite, the founders will try to find every way to work with Chris because it’s their first and only choice. If Chris can’t find another budget, he suggests creating revenue opportunities at the back end of the sale or swap for equity. There are many ways to get a return on your work and investment that don’t require money. So get creative!

3. There are advantages to being small

If you are a solo freelancer or a small business, you have leverage. There is no B-team. The client can work with the CEO, the creative director, and more directly to get the job done.

Another story is when Do built his small business in a sketchy area of ​​Venice Beach. He’s been a freelance feature storyboarder and partnered with one of the best in the business – Kyle Cooper, who has directed and produced more than 150 movie title and VFX sequences, including Se7en, Spider-Man, The Mummy and The Walking Dead.

Unknown to Cooper, Do had put together his own small team of artists to handle the increasingly heavy and demanding workload and, of course, continued to increase his fees. After Cooper’s producer received what he thought was an overload, he eventually backed off, complaining that “he hadn’t paid anyone that amount,” especially a young freelancer like Do. Do’s confidence waned under the pressure of his best Customers and he couldn’t admit that a whole team was working on Cooper’s stuff. However, Chris defended his prices by saying, “Ask Kyle if he doesn’t think we’re working that much, we’ll adjust the bill.” Cooper did not ask for a price cut, and Do learned some valuable lessons.

After all, don’t set a price for your time tied to a timeline. Fee based on issue. The reason for this is that you may be able to do a great job very quickly. Even if you charge $ 300 an hour, you can create a masterpiece in two hours and leave $ 24,400 on the table for a job that made you $ 25,000. A focus on time stimulates the artist to sometimes take longer than necessary to complete a product so that he can earn what it is really worth. In this case, the client and the artist both lose.

Finally, Chris quotes one of his mentors, the design icon Marty Neumeier (also inspired by Herbert Simon): “The definition of design develops a procedure to improve an existing state or to change it to a preferred one. So when someone takes something as it is and it changes, to do better, they’re designers. Design is something people usually think of as posters and toasters. But design is so much more than that. “

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