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This happens a lot actually and not just to me. Most designers I know have some of their best ideas when they are "off the clock." My friend James and I would have great ideas at the gym, mountain biking, or most often during a sushi bender (sake is a conduit for creative thinking btw).
The thing is, clients expect us to be creative on-demand and during billable hours. But creativity needs a space in which to happen. So the question becomes, “how do you bill for time you aren’t in front of the ol' Mac?” I have met very few CEO's, CMO's, CTO's or other three-letter-identified people who won’t stare at you blankly when you tell them that you need to be paid for the time you spent “concepting” on the beach. All weekend.
Take for example the work we did earlier this year for Mashery’s API lounge at SXSW.
The big idea came to me after I had a dream about side-show circus freaks (don’t ask why ‘cause I don’t know). I woke up in the middle of the night and scribbled the words “Side Show”, “Circus”, and “El Camino” in my dream journal. Okay, it was a sticky note, but still.
The next day I pitched the idea for a Circus Side Show featuring “real life” mashups” and the client gave us the green light.
Now, I have to say that Oren, the CEO at Mashery does in fact value the creative process (no matter when or where it happens) so in this case, I did get paid for my sleepy-time, but generally speaking, I think clients would rather believe that the great ideas only come during the eight hours each day they are expecting to pay for.
So if you are reading this, and you are creative professional, my advice is to take the off-hours into account when creating your proposal. Estimate enough to cover some time out of the office. And when they ask, tell them that your best ideas come to you when you are not abusing your mouse.
If you are are someone who hires creative types,please remember that we don’t have a “CREATE!” button in our brains. The creative juices flow 24/7 and sometime they flow better when unimpeded, or helped along by malted hops or fermented grapes for example.
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