I love this part, because I like collaborating with, and just hanging out with, talented people who know their craft. But that collaborative thing only goes so far. Because as far as they’re concerned…
I’m the client.
Most of the time, I can pretend that’s not true. We’re just a bunch of cool people doing our thing, right? But then I realize no one ever outright contradicts or even challenges anything I say, no matter how inane. I make casual suggestions and they get turned into new versions, posted at midnight.
This state of affairs makes me uncomfortable.
I’ll twist myself into knots talking to, say, the music composer. I’ll tell him I like #4 but could the back end be more like #2—understanding, of course, the need for the composition not to be a Frankenstein and feel integrated and my not wanting to be overly prescriptive and by the time I’m done apologizing and demonstrating my creative sensitivity, he’s already done it.
Because for him, it’s no big deal. For me it’s, Oh my God, I’m talking like a client. I’m fucking this guy’s work up. I’m taking his Juilliard training and stomping on it with my troll-like client feet.
This behavior spills over into non-work related relationships, particularly into fly fishing. If I go out fishing with a guide, my goal is to be the best client possible. Or at least not to be the asshole he curses out and ridicules later that night at the bar where all the guides hang out.
This is pathetic, I’ll be the first to admit. But I’d also be willing to bet I’m not the only person in a creative field dependent on clients that feels this way. I bet there are plenty of architects, clothing designers, game developers, as well as copywriters and art directors, who say to themselves, when the tables are turned and it’s their money and someone else’s talent:
Do not do to them what others have done to you.