“The secret of life is in art.” Oscar Wilde
The one thing that I love about mural paintings is the sheer challenge of pulling it off. It’s fascinating to watch the process go from imagination in the artist’s head to a sketch on a piece of paper and then watch as it comes to life on a huge surface.
Some angels, like Katie Staib, have changed the world by painting murals. Katie has united orphans and the community in poor areas of Nicaragua with her mural projects. By bringing everyone together, as a team, to beautify their surroundings, the act of painting a mural builds confidence and purpose.
For Drew and me, painting wall murals has been a great source of extra income. Taking on a large project like a mural can bring in some big bucks, and you might even have a great time doing it.
Regardless of your motivation for painting murals, be it to earn a living or to make a difference in the world, in the end, your goal is to make the client happy.
We aren’t happy unless our client is. Our personal goal: Make the painting so awesome and the process so smooth for the client that they are compelled to tell everyone they know. (That’s how we get more business, without having to track it down. It comes to us.)
In the last month, Drew has been commissioned to paint two large murals, and we’ve quoted on a third one. Our first client, Yogurt Wave, was so happy with the end results that each partner took the time to call us and thank us profusely! They were excited and overjoyed at how great the mural made their new store look!
Our second client, Fisherman Tom, is so appreciative of Drew’s work ethic that he keeps giving us freshly caught albacore tuna. We’re cooking some up tonight…
Now, I don’t want to make it sound like the mural projects went off without any problems. With every project, you run into things you didn’t expect. These things can make your job as an artist very difficult. As was the case with Yogurt Wave – when Drew went to seal it, he had some serious problems which almost ruined the mural. It took him 2 extra days to complete the mural due to this problem. But in the end, the problem was solved and our guys were very happy.
Making your client is happy doesn’t just have to do with the artwork itself. Sure, it has to look good. But there are many other factors beside the artwork that are crucial to pleasing your client.
Ten Ways to Please Your Mural Client:
- Behave a like a professional: Provide a written price quote. Detail your payment requirements, what their price includes, what it doesn’t include. That way, there are no surprises. (People don’t like surprises when it comes to their money.) Your client will take comfort in knowing that they are dealing with someone who knows what they are doing. (Read HOW TO PRICE A WALL MURAL for details on how to do this.)
- Be extremely organized: Map out what you will accomplish each day of the mural painting. Have all your supplies on hand before day 1. Know before you even drive to the site exactly what you will get completed that day. You should be able to plan exactly how many days the mural will take to complete. (It may not be exact, but close.)
- Be an excellent communicator: Each morning, give your client a rundown of what they can expect from you. “Today we’ll be sketching the design on the wall and getting some of the background paint on. We expect to be finished by 5:00.” If your client is not on-site, take photos and at the end of each day, e-mail a progression photo.
- Show up on time everyday: Believe it or not, this one little thing makes a huge difference in the confidence your client will have in your abilities. Be reliable and considerate of your client’s time and you’ll be appreciated. If you say you’ll be there at 9:00 a.m., be there at 9:00 a.m. Don’t be a flake.
- Stay on Track and be Efficient: Every day that you are in the space painting, you are holding up your client. So many artists will drag out a project. They paint real slow, take cigarette breaks, talk on the phone, show up late, take a long lunch, etc. These are all time wasters. Stay on track with your plan and if you are running behind, get there earlier and stay later.
- Whistle while you work: Be happy and embrace each working day. Be a joy to have around. Your clients will be happier with your painting if they enjoy your company.
- Keep your problems to yourself: Don’t complain to your client about bad traffic, about something that’s going wrong with your equipment, or anything else. If there’s a problem, solve it yourself and don’t mention it to the client. Their experience with you should be worry free. You want them to feel confident that they are dealing with a professional.
- Choose the right assistant: Do not hire a flake to help you. It will hurt your reputation. Be sure to have a helper that is reliable and has a good work ethic. This person will be a reflection on you. For the Yogurt Wave mural, we knew it would be a tricky one so we flew artist Katie Staib down from Spokane, Washington to help. She’s painted many challenging murals and we knew that we would benefit from her expertise and work ethic. (Drew says “No assistant is better than a bad assistant.”)
- Do your best work but don’t take forever: There’s a fine line between doing quality work and not spending too much time on the painting. Time is money, not just for you but for your client. You want to be as efficient as possible.
- Remember to thank your client: Show appreciation for the business. Assuming they are pleased as punch with your work, ask for a reference that you can use in marketing materials or on your website. Send a thank you card after the work is done – it’s a nice touch that they won’t forget.
- DON’T LEAVE A TRACE that you’ve been there: (I’ve added #11 as an update to this post.) Clean up after yourself, every day. Don’t leave trash or drop clothes or anything else laying around in a sloppy fashion. On your last day, you’re not finished until after you’ve tidied up the entire area, including sweeping the floor. Trust me, this is one little detail that will thrill your client.
You may notice a recurring theme in the ten points above: make it appear effortless to your client. YOU are the professional, that’s why they hired you. They’ve put this baby in your hands, and it’s up to you to make it happen. Smooth and easy!
If you have anything to add to this list, please do so in the comments below. As always, I appreciate you reading my blog. I also invite you to ask me any questions or topics you’d like covered in a future post.
PS: These points don’t just apply to murals, but to just about everything you do…
PPS: Here’s a slide show of the mural that Drew painted for a client called LINKS in Costa Mesa. You can see the progression from day 1 to finish: