This week I am feeling a satisfactory sense of accomplishment having completed, delivered, and installed a commission that has been in the works since July. I am now enjoying the luxury of being able to reflect on the process.
It has been a bit of a challenge to figure out how to weave this endeavor in with everything else that the past 6 months has encompassed, but the stretch was worth it.
First and foremost, I count myself tremendously lucky to have been able to work with a delightful and interesting client. My long-ago days in free-lance advertising and illustration taught me that is not always the case — to such an extent that I have since shied away from commissions. But when approached this time, I was so interested in trying to capture what she was looking for, that it seemed the time had come to step up to see where things might lead.
It has been a wonderful learning experience that has kept my feet humbly on the ground while also providing a fertile environment for growth. The following list includes several take-aways that come to mind immediately; I’m sure more will surface with time.
1. The importance of listening attentively, always with an ear for clues in client feedback for ways that the piece she is ultimately hoping for can dovetail with my working methods and means of bringing an idea to life. The optimal goal being that we both enjoy the process, as well as the end result.
2. Learning to plan ahead and to log my time. (And coming to the realization that every- thing always seems to take half again as long as I had originally thought).
3. The importance of “deep work” (as Cal Newport defines it) in making concrete strides.
4. How to organize my days so that I can move forward steadily while honoring other commitments that were already in place and certainly weren’t going to disappear.
5. Appreciation for the boundaries that someone else’s vision puts in place – and in turn, the freedom that comes from that narrowing of overall approach. Structure can be a good thing.
6. To be fearless in experimentation.
I have gotten a lot out of this experience and the many ways it has helped me to stretch, bolstered by the freedom that my client allowed me along the way. But ultimately, two things stand out as highlights in the culmination of the project. The first was seeing her face, absorbed in her own thoughts as she looked at the finished piece on her wall, finally there ‘in the flesh’ after months of patiently waiting.
And the second being the feeling, as I walked away from her apartment, that I had played my part in connecting ideas that hold significance for her with a tangible expression of those important thoughts and memories. As mentioned in quoting Salman Rushie in last week’s post, it felt like the universe had opened just a bit more.