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Helicopter, Spectator

Originally published Mar 10, 2017

Clients: a vague, shadowy silhouette that many of us know quite well and can take on many different forms. These are but a few of the most common…

(1) I wake up to pee in the dead of night—a normal thing. Clumsily check the time on my phone. Catch a glimpse of Nocturnal Client’s 02:39 am response. Then I am violently blinded by the lowest brightness the screen can manage and I fall back into darkness.

(2) The crisp morning air sighs in through the window. I’m sitting, staring, “teaching” Gmail— and supposedly Gmail is learning.

At 10:00 sharp, Punctual Client prompts my inbox. I silently applaud her.

She probably hits every item on her to-do list, every day. I make a note to be more like her, and chug along to the next email.

(3) Six days—no response. Specter Client is out there, undulating in his industry like the thin rivers of packets that should be flowing between his email servers and mine. But I sent a file preview and a weekly invoice nearly a week ago. No direction. No word.

At this rate, tomorrow the project will come to a grinding halt.

But for now, I put on the finishing touches.

For now.

(4) For the third time since lunch, DIY Client’s newest take on the project blooms into existence on the screen. Pixels jut out in awkward places. Colors threaten to vibrate til they fall apart completely. I can actually see the frustration DIY experienced while mocking this up in Gimp. Or Paint. Or Canva. Or maybe Photoshop Elements 6.

— I did this myself, he writes.

— Good job, I think. And I replicate the changes in Illustrator.

(5) My ears are still ringing with promises of high-paying gigs and regular income because Empty Promises Client is FIRED UP ! It’s a neat idea so I send a generous quote.

— Thanks, she says. I’ll get back to you.

I’m still waiting..

… now I’m undulating in thin rivers of packets

… now I’m

(6) It’s after dinner—typical creative hours—and few Clients make an appearance now. But Helicopter Client’s second request to Skype hovers thickly in the air. Man, I’m breaking every designer rule. I’d be exiled if they knew.

So here we go.

— I’m ready, she says.

— I’m calling, I say.

— Share your screen, she says.

— You should see it, I say.

— I can’t, she says. Let’s try Facetime ..? Messenger … ? Uber Conference

Hours later I fall back into privacy and blink at the late afternoon glow.

Turn on some music, fall back into rhythm

Every Client is different, every Client the same. Every email is a flutter in my chest and a tiny question mark poking briefly into existence.

I love all Clients equally because I learn from you.

So thank you, you vague shadowy silhouettes.

— Can we try it less boxy ? Multiple Versions Client asks.

“We”—that’s me—switches back to Illustrator and fiddles with a few anchor points. Save. Export. Upload. Send.

— OK, now can you show me both versions side by side ? he asks.

I forward my previous email and add the new image.

Freeloader Client

Excited for everything Client

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