I will be the first to tell you you can’t take things personally in art licensing.  To shift your mindset from “no” being a personal attack to meaning “it’s just not a fit for us right now”.

I’m usually pretty good at it.  I know that I’m designing for commercial purposes and what will work for one client won’t necessarily work – or appeal – to another.  I get it.  I’ve been at it for 12 years and building that “thick skin” people like to tell you about when you DO get your feelings hurt.

The reality is, some people have better communication skills than others and sometimes you can’t help but get your feelings hurt.  The more important point is this:  how quickly can you recover and get back to a place of creativity?

Last week, one of these these moments happened in my life.  I got to talking with a few friends about the things people have said to me.  One told me that if I had an agent, I wouldn’t have to hear those things – but might not hear much at all – good or bad.  It’s true – one beautiful thing an agent can do for you is shield you from some less than tactful comments.

I thought I’d entertain you with a few things that come to mind that have been said to me over the years – that way when you hear something similar (hopefully you won’t!) – you won’t feel so alone.  And hopefully being warned will help you recover from the sting quickly.

See no evil monkeys

Here are a few that stand out – in no particular order…

“None of us liked the work you just sent.  Call me.”

“We hate the colors.  What were you thinking?”

“What the heck is that supposed to be?  A hippo?”
(It was not even an animal and no one else was confused…)

“That is just stupid.”

“I hate your cartoon pets.  Stop doing them.”

Any of these situations could have been met with a polite “We don’t think that will work for us”  or “Can you change _____” – something constructive.  The above comments add no real value –  because in each instance, another client (or 3) had liked the designs and licensed them.

We need to listen to feedback, and we also need to recognize poor communication for what it is and try not to take it to heart.

Here’s to your thick-skinned creative success!

– Tara Reed