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Working with Artists 101

When I was in secondary school, I decided to participate in its beauty pageant. As you may know, the formal wear is a key segment, and so in my gusto and excitement, I spent weeks looking through magazines and websites, and in my head, I put together what I thought to be the most perfect dress.

Imagine my excitement when I learned that one of Barbados’ top fashion designers at that time had agreed to sponsor me. I met up with him and gave him all of my specific requirements for the dress – down to amateur sketches.

He listened, nodded, and even took my sketches, and a week before the pageant, finally called me to try on the dress.

I could see that he followed my instructions to the T.

But I was disappointed.

I thought to myself, “And he is supposed to be a good designer?” not realising I had never given him the opportunity to design.

Months later a friend of mine told me she was entering a pageant, and had chosen the same designer to make her dress. “Poor thing,” I thought.

“What design did you choose for the dress?” I asked.

“I dunno,” she replied. “I just told him I wanted a dress.”

At her pageant, when she stepped onto stage, I gasped out loud. The dress was one of the most beautiful creations I had ever seen. The design was something I could never have conceptualised.

That day, 17 year-old schoolgirl me, would learn a lesson that would serve the 29-year old filmmaker.

Give artists the creative freedom to create.

They may come up with something brilliant, that you could have never imagined. There is a reason you approached this person, right? You must respect their expertise. A good director knows when to take directions.

On that first meeting with the artist, make sure you ask: “What do you think?” “Is there any concept you ever wanted to try?”

Let them go wild!

After they’ve had their fun, then together, you can edit and adapt, and this collaboration is how beautiful and unique works of art are created.

Sometimes when you give excessive instructions, you get exactly what you picture in your head.

How boring that would be?


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