Week 2 Blog Post: Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

          In all honesty, I have not encountered very many projects in my professional career that required me to work with other stakeholders. As an art teacher, I am left alone at times and not required to work with any district assessments or common planning since I am the only teacher to teach the classes I have. It can be frustrating not being able to work with others that teach the same class, but it is also nice to have the freedom to create projects around my student’s needs. Instead, I will look at a personal project that I worked on which revolves around my professional career.

Last year I was commissioned to do a painting from a person who saw some of the prints I donated to a local charity. I usually do not work on commissioned pieces because of time and the demands some people possess. After meeting with the client, we determined that he wanted a very large painting of Michael Jordan showing emotion. I was very excited about this since my last Jordan piece went over so well. After I found an image and altered it using Photoshop I brought it to my client. The client seemed very excited about how I altered the image and was ready to move forward with the painting. The client was very adamant about me sending him weekly progress photos of the painting. I was a little concerned about this since as an artist I felt it was too controlling. I started the painting and it wasn’t a few days into it he sent me some new photos of Jordan to consider. I was dumbfounded by the emails since we already agreed on the image. I quickly sent him what I had completed so far and he seemed happy once again. Another week went by and more photos of Jordan came my way from my client to look at. At this point, I was almost halfway done with the painting and didn’t know what to do. I decided it was best that I meet with him to make sure we were on the same page. After we spoke in person we both seemed better about the painting. A few days later I receive an email about the painting and his thoughts on starting over. It was at this point I lost all motivation and decided to cut ties with the commissioned piece.

There were several lessons I learned from the project. First, I need to make sure the client is 100% certain of the concepts I will create. Possibly adding a contract during this initial meeting will help me gather deadlines and liabilities while the client ensures this is exactly what they want. Second, even though I had heavy communication with the client during the time we worked, it solidified that this communication is paramount in any project. Achong stated “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and I couldn’t agree more (Laureate Education, n.d.). If I did not communicate with the client I may have wasted more time working on a painting that he was ultimately unsure about.

I never would think of looking at scope when being commissioned for a painting. However, this is exactly what I should have done. Scoping the work with a client would allow me to define what the customer wants, consider prerequisites, or in this case, alterations, and the technical requirements. (Laureate Education, n.d.) Overall I learned a great deal about myself in this situation. I made some mistakes, but mistakes are just a way for me to learn what to do if this situation happens again.


Below is the painting partially completed. I leave it in my room at school as a reminder of what could happen the next time I agree to take on a commissioned piece. Last week I decided to start working on it again, which sparked the reason for using it as my example.



Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Defining the scope of an ID project [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_4856561_1&content_id=_18049942_1

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Overcoming ‘scope creep’ [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_4856561_1&content_id=_18049942_1


9 responses to “Week 2 Blog Post: Lessons Learned

  1. Lisa Dagenais

    I would not have thought that project management could be used to supplement artistic creation but if art is your business, I guess project management skills could be a big help. The five phases of a project seem to apply to an art project just as easily as an instructional design project (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008):
    • Conceive the idea
    • Define the plan
    • Start the team (maybe not a team if you work alone)
    • Perform the work
    • Close the project

    I don’t know anything about the art business and I have never commissioned a piece of art myself. Is it unheard of to collect a portion of the cost of the commissioned piece before you begin working on it? That is a pretty standard procedure for most independent contractors and I think it gives a sense of permanence to the decision to begin a project with a client. Deposits are usually non-refundable as the contractor has already invested their time and sometimes materials also. Like an instructional design project, once the commissioned art is scoped and the client agrees, a deposit could also be collected.

    As a client, when I put a deposit down on work to be completed, I have made the decision and I am very sure of it. If I asked for changes, I would expect to pay extra for them if they were allowed and the project would likely take more time (Laureate Education, n. d.). Though project managers try to stick to the original scope of the project, clients sometimes still require the changes. That doesn’t mean the project manager should have to redesign the work for free though.

    Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Project management concerns: ‘Scope creep’ [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

    • Lisa,

      Thanks for the reply. I wasn’t sure if this would work but the more I started thinking about it, I saw how it could work for this assignment. The biggest problem I felt was that I needed to please the client in every way. I suppose I would have a different attitude if selling my work was my only source of income. I create these pieces of art because one, I like doing it and two, it helps motivate my students when they see what can be achieved. I definitely have a new outlook on things moving forward.


  2. Jacob,

    The dangers of commission work. Your client just had a plethora of ideas and he assumed you can make all those accommodations. I believe a good trait when incorporating project management practices are contigency plans or influence the amount information (Portney, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer & Sutton, 2008).
    The warning signs was evident on the first week and you should have reminded that client what you have agreed upon. But another factor you have to consider is customer satisfaction. If you have presented a SOW for this client and directed them to breakdown structure of cost for this commission they would be reluctant to make changes on this project (Portney et al., 2008). A contract would set the boundaries between you and client when it comes to the creativity process plus and would limit their manipulation as they are bound to what was agreed without incurring additional cost.

    • References

      Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project Management: Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling Projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

    • Bruce,

      Yes, that was my biggest fear with customer satisfaction. Actually, it is just my nature. I don’t like conflicts and I always want to please people. I am the type of person who, everyone asks for favors because I always say yes. Now that I have two little ones, I am getting better about saying no. The contract will be a must the next time around.


  3. Hi Jake –
    Even though you thought you had not been involved in a project from a project manager perspective, you found a great example to share where you were playing all roles of the project (PM, ID, Artist, etc). I have read through the others comments and am in agreement with what they had to say. I just wanted to add that hindsight is 20/20, hence the project “post-mortem” posts we are making this week. Now with the obvious stated, I think you were right to pull out of the project at that time in your life. Now, however, I am hopeful that you may reconsider commissioned work again. You now have a set of tools to utilize at the onset of a project. You can write a SOW (Statement of Work) and outline exactly what you are going to do, when and what you are going to deliver, the types of acceptable communication throughout and how much you are going to get paid for it. I think adding in something along the lines of “if any changes to this SOW are made after _____(date signatures were obtained), a new SOW will have to be agreed upon and each change will incur a minimum of $______”. This will cause all parties to really think about what they are agreeing to on Day 1 and really have to want a change (and be willing to pay for it) after the original agreement was signed.
    Next time you could always quote Vince Budrovich and say “No, we are not doing that in this version….” and get more business on a second painting. (Laureate Education, n.d.) 🙂

    Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Project management concerns: ‘Scope creep’ [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

    • Bridget,

      Great point on adding more business. The SOW is key for me in my next attempt. I wonder what route I would have taken if selling my art was my only form of income. I obviously don’t sell my work with profit mentality…..I do it because I enjoy it.


  4. iglesiasj

    Hi Jake,
    I know how frustrating it can be to do freelance or commission art work. They say the want all the bells and whistles or they agree at one point but change their minds later causing rework. Having a SOW for professional work is great way to have in writing what is being asked and what will be delivered and that their is always a possibility of change of SOW.
    Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks Joan, You are right, a SOW is needed. I am sure we are a lot alike with the fact that adding something like an SOW feels very formal for me. I am not a big fan of formal.


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