Art vs. Clients

I’ve been working on a pair of custom tank bags for a motorcycle build for the Revival Handbuilt Motorcycle show in Austin, TX. I actually already completed the bags once and they looked great even though there were a couple small functional issues. But the client hated (she actually said hate) the natural leather that I used for the straps. She told me she hated them. She also told me when I started the project that I would have artistic freedom. If you are an artist, craftsman and/or artisan, be very wary of those 2 words when it comes to custom work. You probably don’t have artistic freedom. I had to take the bags apart, make new straps to match the upholstery (dark brown) by gluing and stitching some of the upholstery leather to strap leather, remake the back of the bags and put them back together. Now they look like they came from Target. It makes me so mad to work on this project now.

Then it occurred to me. The typical client that hires an artist to do something that they can’t do, has no taste. They are only capable of mentally rendering the project in their limited view and understanding of whatever it is that they’ve hired you to do. Often, this is based on some cheap crap they saw somewhere or just their decidedly non-artistic design and they have no idea at all how something like that is constructed — which reminds me of the dreaded opening, “but can’t you just…” So all that we artists can do is grit our teeth and suffer through these tedious tasks to make the client happy so we can get paid.

So much for artistic freedom.

UPDATE: The client really liked the revised bags and they ended up looking much better than I thought they would with the new straps. Unfortunately, the magnets weren’t doing a very good job of holding the bags on the curved surface of the tank.

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