It’s okay to think something sucks. Just know why, before you say it.
I’m willing to go out on a limb, and say I’ve been more guilty of this than you. That’s because I’ve been around for a few years, and I’ve spent plenty of my career being good and surly. Part of that is feeling entitled to be so, due to a creative temperament. Partly because it was funny (at times). But also because …well, I don’t know why. Creative people in particular tend to have this affliction. Here’s an example of, oh, I dunno …maybe 549 conversations I’ve had in my career:
Account Exec: “Hey Shawn.”
Me (staring at my layout in progress): “Hey.”
Account Exec: “So, the client has some changes to the sell sheet.”
Me (still staring at my layout in progress, but now looking slightly annoyed): “Oh, yeah? They do, do they?”
Account Exec (She sighs, knowing what’s coming just because she’s doing her job): ” Yes,… they want it changed back to the original colour.”
Me (I’ve now stopped working on my layout, I’ve just rolled eyes, and am currently generating my most sarcastic facial expression possible): “Oh, really? I didn’t know they went to design college.”
Poor Account Exec: “I know, I know. Can we just, I dunno, try it and see…”
Me (interrupting cow): “It’ll totally suck. I know before I even try it.”
Account Exec: “How do YOU know it’ll suck?”
Me (now, looking like a complete prick): “I’m that amazing.”
Account Exec: “…don’t get mad at me, they’re yelling at me to get this done.”
Me (Now, like I’m Moses): “Fine, I’ll save your ass.”
Account Exec: “Fine, THANK you!” <she mutters something frustratedly as she leaves my office)
Me (now, looking back at my computer, more surly than ever): “No problem, buddy!” <- just to add some flare
Now, inevitably, about 6 minutes later, I feel like bag of douche. I make the changes and they look fine. I almost want to fudge them so they don’t look good, just to save face. I don’t. I end up eating crow. I was actually laughing as I typed that conversation above, because though “made up” for the purpose of this post, it’s all too true in my career. With maturity comes change …or at least softening of the edges. But, above all, comes objectivity.
As creative pros, it’s our job (and your job) to separate what you want to do, from what you are required to do. That’s a hard gig. It’s the red pill. If something isn’t working, you should say so. A good account person will be thinking the same thing – by the way, account people are just as creative as you, and good ones are often more. Yes, you read that right. If something is wrong, they’ll feel it too. Ultimately, we all have an opinion about creative. Particularly our own. Just remember, that in the service of a client, it’s their creative. You have to discover for yourself the right balance between pushing back on an error in judgement, and when something is just your personal bias. It’s hard to do. Comment below with your experiences.