One of my favorite things about working on visual imaging in the music industry is being able to collaborate with creative people of all sorts, and I’m not just talking about the music artists. Witnessing an act’s image development goals come to life through collaboration with other creative talents is exciting.
Whether it is a photographer, stylist, director, videographer, copywriter, editor, graphic/web site designer, etc. these artists all work together to provide the music client with content for the entire world to see. In any industry, to actualize a successful project strong communication skills are key- start to finish. However, many creative types tend to be a bit more sensitive about constructive feedback of their work than let’s say- an accountant. After all, art is personal so knowing how to best speak to a creative person is an important skill set to have while creating your music branding tools.
Below are a few tips for music artists (and their support teams) on good, okay, and bad ways to conduct your creative speak with a variety of visual artists.
-Mutual respect for each other’s time and talents, along with clearly outlining your visual goals are essential from start to finish.
-During the pre-production phase of a project establish a shared bond with your creative team by encouraging open brainstorming. Discuss projects you feel were successful, listen to everyone’s input and be upfront about why and how you would like to make yours different to reflect a visual uniqueness that compliments your sound. Don’t enter into this process with an “impress me” point of view or keep silent and then complain to your manager later. Actively participate in the conversation.
-On the shoot day understand that every person on a set is a creative in motion, contributing to the whole. However, if you have any major concerns, let’s take lighting for example, it is best to speak to the creative leader of the team (director, photographer, label rep, etc.) about your worry discretely off set as to not embarrass any one in front of their peers.
-Once “that’s a wrap” is called, be sure to thank the crew for their efforts before leaving the set. When the project has successfully launched, follow up with a written thank you and let them know the progress of the artistic venture they helped to create. They will appreciate the acknowledgement and it will hopefully keep them invested in your continued success.
-Don’t be vague. Whether in the early or advanced stages of an imaging project, avoid using loose general terms like cool, great or edgy. Honestly, no one ever sets out to make a bad project. Be clear. Use descriptive adjectives that help translate your specific vision. This will help avoid confusion start to finish.
-Hair, make-up and wardrobe stylists want you to be 100% happy with their work. If you are too timid to communicate your concerns before shooting begins, everyone loses because you will not be happy with the final imaging. If you don’t like the color of your eye shadow, it’s perfectly okay to politely speak up. Just be sure to do this before shooting begins or after seeing a problem in the early test shots.
-Time is money on shoot day, but don’t let anyone on your creative team intimidate you so that you are afraid to express any concerns you may encounter. This is your image, this is your career. Pull up your big kid pants and speak up before the cameras roll, not after.
-Avoid referring to yourself in third person. Written or spoken, it comes across as if you are just playing the part of an artist and yes, it makes you sound like an ass.
-Be confident in your own first impressions. The more you ask others for their opinions on your imaging the more confused you will be about trusting your own instincts. Most people want to put their scent on the tree if you let them. It’s best not to say things to the creative team like, “my (insert-any-family-member-or- friend) suggested we re-edit to show more shots of the car in the opening.” Ugh!
-There are right ways and wrong ways to ask an editor for revisions. Always start your feedback with the good news first. Let them know what you like about the edit before you dive into the things you don’t like. This helps keep the creative dialogue flowing in a positive and constructive way. If possible, review change notes in person or on the phone, as your tone in e-mails or texts can be easily misinterpreted. If you must type out your notes, avoid discouraging comments like, “The shot at 00:43:11 is awful. Lose it!” Be helpful instead by providing specifics such as “The guitar strap at 00:43:11 looks awkward. Please try to find a replacement shot.”
If you are consistently communicating in a clear and respectful way with your creative teams they will more likely return the favor. You need them and they need you. Now go create!