thinking. always thinking.
Where thoughts, extemporaneous ramblings and half-baked ideas battle to the death. You’re welcome.
Designers are pack rats. Collectors and hoarders. We keep lots of samples. Too many. We find it almost impossible to pare down. It is in our nature to save our work, to review, defend and explain our process through example.
I have a lot of samples. A plethora. A surplus. A ton. Much to my wife’s chagrin. Recently, I got out my shovel and dug through the untidy landfill that is my sample cabinet. I selected four dozen or so apropos specimens and tossed them in a portfolio (of sorts) to try and woo a few potential clients.
As most designers know, getting work is difficult. You are pitted against your peers, who are generally friends, colleagues or rivals. Lots of talent to be sure. You have to be persuasive, but more importantly you have to read the client and determine what they are looking for. And the right samples are your ace in the hole or your ultimate downfall. If you are lucky enough to bring the right one to a meeting, it makes all the difference. It’s something tangible clients can relate to. It allows them to see the possibilities for their own projects.
In the last meeting, I was told (more or less) I got the job because of a sample I designed for a small client almost 12 years ago. That visual aid was what I needed to explain how I solved a problem very similar to the one I was bidding. It resonated with everyone (so I heard) at that meeting.
About two weeks ago, I piled about 50-75 loose samples in my metal box briefcase and headed for a informal meet and greet with a potential client. I knew I was going up against several other designers/firms and had this one chance to convince the powers that be that I was the person for the job. I wasn’t asked to bring anything, so I just set the box down under the conference table while people took turns explaining why they needed a designer. I listened to their concerns and requests and then asked if I could show them something. I dug around a little and found an example I completed over a decade ago. I explained how I arrived at a solution to a similar problem and illustrated it with my vintage and wrinkled design. People started nodding their heads and asking questions, and I knew I had a good chance of landing this client. A few days later I got the job. Even though I started the pitch, my friends sealed the deal. Thank you samples. You came through again.