Some projects just don’t fit me well. There are things I’m really good at and things that I’m not. I want to be effective at what I do, and that involves doing the right thing at the right time in the right place.
When a client wants something that I know I can deliver although it might stretch me and I might have to invest extra effort and time, I’ll take it on. But at the point that I realize what they want is simply too far out of my sweet spot for me to be effective, I need to make a decision. Do I continue onward or let it go?
Letting it go is the more courageous choice. This requires recognizing my strengths and weaknesses and being willing to experience discomfort in order to solve the client’s problem. This is not a bad thing… but when I know that the return will not match the effort, or the client could end up dissatisfied, the best thing to do is to face it, and offer an alternative. Clients trust honesty.
I took on a project to create some illustrations for a plastic surgery after-market product launch. In the process of iteration and reiteration, the client began re-defining their purpose and market, and I knew that I was no longer the right designer for the work. I am a realistic, narrative illustrator and the re-defined project needed a fashion illustrator. What they wanted was not realism but stylized fantasy. So I referred them elsewhere.
Professionalism often involves letting go rather than creating problems by pushing against our natural bents.