Everyone has heard of “writer’s block”, the inability for a professional writer to get the right words down on the page. Designers experience a similar thing, that I call “Creative Block”. Sometimes it’s just something that happens on a particular day — I can’t get going on anything, and nothing I design pleases me. Other times, it’s a specific project that I’m stuck on and I end up frustrated and tossing out design after design.
When I am approached and given the opportunity to bid on a graphic design project, inevitably I am asked for samples from my portfolio. I am always happy to provide them, and to point them to my Web site where they can view more, but I wonder if they realize that my portfolio only tells a part of the story. The samples allow a prospective client to gauge my design ability, but give no insight into my reliability.
What is a “zombie project”?
It’s a project that lingers in limbo, neither alive or dead. For whatever reason, the work has been completed (or mostly so), but the final product has not been launched, printed, presented or used by the client.
One of the first decisions I made as an independent designer was to create a policy not to do “spec work.” We’ve been pretty successful at honoring the policy, although there are a few cases where we felt we had to do it to remain competitive.
When I present a design idea to a client, for example a selection of 5 logo concepts, I generally post the concepts to our extranet and send the client a link to view them. Every once in a while, a client will react badly to this tactic, asking why I don’t mount the concepts on black boards and present them to the executive team in person.