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Do clients in the arts allow for artistic liberties to be taken?

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In art classes I’m currently in, teacher allow us to take artistic liberties, but claim that graphic design clients won’t let us do that. Is that necessarily true? #art #graphic-design #design #fine-art

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Marc’s Answer

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I am a part-time photographer but have also done some commission work in drawing and painting. I would say yes, most clients will make space for artistic liberties within a pre-defined set of boundaries.

If your client wants and Italian fresco but you decide to take artistic liberties and paint the scene on the wall in graffiti style, you probably won't be paid.

You should get a clear understanding of what the client wants and agree on the parameters, preferably in writing, and then if you are inspired to do something different - go back to the client and renegotiate the scope of the work.
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Andy’s Answer

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Hi Evan,

You've asked a great question. Unfortunately the answer isn't so simple. It will vary from client to client, from project to project.

For example if you are working on a licensed property, the client will generally be very strict about how their work can be interpreted. Having worked on several different ones I can give you a little insight. For a game using the Simpsons license the client was very strict. We had a defined color palette that we could not stray from. Residential buildings had to have windows of one color while commercial building windows had to be another color, etc.

For a Lord of the Rings game (that unfortunately never shipped) we were given a bit more room to play around with since the events of the game were not taking place during the timeline of the movies. So we were allowed to extrapolate and try to come up with what things might have looked like in that world but in a different era.

Original materials can be just as varied depending on the personality of the creator. Some people will have a set vision, an idea about what it is they're looking for. Others may be more open to collaboration and input from the artist.

One way to think about it is that one day you might be the person in charge. But with so much to do you won't have the time to do every piece of art yourself. So how might you handle it? Would you be very strict and require all of the art to match your vision precisely? Would you be more fluid and open to more leeway on the look?

There isn't a correct answer. It just depends on the project and who you're working with. I would recommend looking at some of the Pixar art books from their many films. You'll see concept art of various styles and looks. There is a lot of exploration that is done at the beginning of a project like that and so productions often allow for more artistic liberties then. But once a production is in flight they have to make sure that everything looks the same and is cohesive. So if you come into a project late, you will most likely have less room for artistic liberties.

I hope that this helps. And hopefully one day, when you're creating your own projects and worlds, you'll keep in mind what those young, up-and-coming artists are capable of and maybe let them play around a little more at the start.

Andy

Andy recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out some Pixar art books and look at the variety of art styles in the development process
  • Think about how you would run a production of something that you created
  • Look at other art books from video games, television, movies, etc. to see how much exploration and artistic liberties they went through before getting to a finalized product.
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