making waves and wasting time

a few weeks ago i spent a couple of days doing some work to try and secure a commission from a study based at birmingham university.  the study is into promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles for children aged around 6 and they wanted to develop their branding to make it more professional.  altogether they were looking for designs for a new logo, some templates for information sheets and a newsletter, as well as some spot illustrations.  although i have a lot of work you can view online, they still wanted to see some examples of what i would do for them.  i spent more time than perhaps i should in preparing this  for them but that was because i wanted to secure the commission by impressing them with some finished illustration rather than just rough sketches.  this is what i submitted:

i was told that the deadline was tight and a decision on who would get the commission was imminent and to be made by the end of the week so i worked hard and late to get the work sent over in time.  i heard nothing and waited ten days before i phoned them.  i was then told through email that “we were extremely pleased with the work you presented and would have been extremely happy to go forward with what you presented.”  however it turns out that the university will only allow certain ‘authorised’ suppliers to provide them with services.  i thought “it really would have helped me if you’d known this information beforehand.”  after a phonecall i got a bit of a better explanation that the university will only outsource work and services if it can’t provide them itself.  the university’s design team had said they couldn’t do the work that the study required but when they found out that somebody else was actually going to do the work, they decided they could do it after all – and so the university wouldn’t authorise funds to be spent on an outside service (me).

great – two days of my holiday gone on a commission i could never get.  partly it’s my own fault for spending too much time on it, but i don’t think big organisations get how much this kind of thing can affect us little freelancers.  i’d like to have had the opportunity to complete the project and think i would have provided a unique branding image for them – i imagine that now, the newsletter, information sheets and communications for the study will be peppered with  clip-art or stock image rubbish or just (duh-duh-duh-dum)…bad drawing.  shame.  oh well, i’ll have to chalk it all up to experience.

About chris cowdrill

i'm an illustrator, i do graphic design and i teach graphics at a college
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