Look Local! - The 'How' and 'Why' of working with local creatives

Client happiness is directly proportional to the proximity of their creative

So you're in need of a designer or illustrator for your business or project, but where on earth do you find one who’s right for you? Drawn in Bristol member Carys-ink shares her thoughts on why it makes sense to start your search close to home...

In our day-to-day life as it is now, there is an inherent value that goes along with the idea of sourcing things locally - food, handmade products and the more traditional tradespeople - we like to know where things come from, how they are made and that they are ethically produced. An obvious step on from this is to appreciate such value when commissioning creative work.

But 'the whole world's at your fingertips'…? Yep, with the internet, email, Skype etc (though I'll admit I haven't full embraced that last one yet), there are so many ways to connect with people, it is very possible and easy to work with others anywhere in the world, so why not ?

The scale of the search

By starting your search locally, the scale of the task is more manageable, with the number of possible options immediately cut - a good thing I think. (We've all spent multiple evenings trawling the internet for a great deal on a holiday, believing the next website will contain that perfect destination at an unbelievable price - it rarely does, and the same applies whatever you’re looking for. ) There are so many talented illustrators and designers out there, narrowing your search area will likely take out some of the confusion, and of course be quicker! Less is more.

It’s about the relationship

Personally, I have built a number of good working relationships with clients I have never actually met. Often they have found my website, contacted me and then with email and telephone conversations I have produced designs or illustrations that have fulfilled their various briefs... nothing unusual there, assuming both the creative and client are able communicate their thoughts/ideas well and respond to each other accordingly. (There is lots to write on how to successfully work for clients you’ll never meet, but i think I’ll keep this for another blog post)

'The Ideas Overlap'

Face to face

It's always nice to meet a client and actually discuss a project in person, I imagine this works both ways. As a creative you are able to get a much quicker handle on the client’s personality, where they’re coming from and what the project will involve. From a client perspective it allows the opportunity to gain a clearer idea of whether the designer/illustrator/creative actually 'gets' what you are trying to achieve and whether they are the sort of individual you think you could work well with. As with all relationships, the best ones are when each person contributes towards a common goal and allows each the space to put forward their ideas.

Also by meeting face to face it's much less likely that anything is misinterpreted in terms of tone, as can sometimes happen with email.

I firmly believe that the best creative work happens when the client and creative have a good understanding of each other's ideas, each bounces off the other.

MAPPED: Creative avenues to explore

How to find a local designer or illustrator

Ask around
A personal recommendation is always a good place to start.

Internet search
We’re talking local here, so fine tune your search to just centre on your town/city. Obviously Drawn in Bristol is a great place to look for Bristol illustrators (!) but there will likely be other websites for your town or city which act like a hub/database for local creatives. Again, here in Bristol, Bristol Media has a directory covering a full range of creative services.

Keep your eyes open
Check out other local businesses, and their branding or marketing materials - if something catches your eye, ask who did it. Or, for example, a flyer or leaflet you've picked up and like the style of - chances are it may have been created locally - try and find out by who.

Caf├ęs displaying the work of local artists/illustrators - by nature these artists are openly selling their work, so chances are they would welcome being commissioned for your project. If their style fits, search them out.

Once you’ve found someone who fits the bill or a couple of potentials, just give them a call. Arrange a meet up and you’ll soon get a feel for whether they’d be right for your project.

And some additional benefits of working with local creatives...

1. Throughout the project it may be useful to see work in progress and discuss things in person. Although it isn’t always necessary to meet face to face, it’s good to know it’s possible.

2. It can often help to root your business in the local community, particularly important if you are hoping to attract local clients/customers.

3. Designers like to publicise their work once complete, so this may well help to build awareness of your venture in the local area.

4. Creatives often have their own network of ‘useful’ people and would potentially be able to suggest local copywriters, web developers etc if you so need.

5. Keeping things local makes you feel good. Simple but true.

This post was written to outline some of the benefits and how to go about working with a local creative - whether that’s a graphic designer, illustrator, web designer or any other creative type.

Deciding to keep things local should not be seen as limiting, or as a second best to choosing someone whose work you love, but who is based further afield. It should never be the case that you chose a particular designer for example, purely because they live around the corner! Decisions should always be based on the quality of work and suitability to the project (although budget will likely come into it too!) As with anything, a good fit needs to be found and the right creative input for your project, looking locally is just a great place to start, provides a good initial focus to your search and has added positives ! 

This guest post was written by Carys Tait - a Bristol based designer and illustrator, working under the name Carys-ink. Carys is a Drawn in Bristol member and spends a fair proportion of her time working with local clients.

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