It’s definitely more appropriate to share your accomplishments, but what about rejection? This topic hasn’t really been as openly discussed as much as it should be. I’m going to wear my heart on my sleeve here and hope by sharing this experience it eases the pain a little for other creatives who’s gone through similar situations.
As a freelancer, trying to establish yourself can be quite draining.There are a few words and situations that can be traumatizing enough to threaten the livelihood of ones career. “Send me your KILL FEE” has been by far my worst and biggest fear come true.
A couple of years ago I was approached by a widely known establishment to illustrate something to go with a copy they were planning on releasing. I really wasnt clear on why I was chosen to do this commission since they wanted me to illustrate something loose and abstract. I wasn’t sure I would be able to meet their vision but I had to try. After all, this client was on top of the list of companies I’d always wanted to work with.
I spent a few days trying to create something engaging and abstract. When I sent in my inital sketches for the said artwork I got feedback to REWORK, EXPLORE, REVISE. So i did as I was suggested, days later I sent in my revisions and got the most devestating reply I had ever read:
“This isn’t working. Send me your kill fee”
(For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a “kill fee” is otherwise known as a cancellation fee. It’s a percentage of the originally agreed upon payment that the client is required to pay should the project be terminated.)
My heart sank to my stomach. I read the message over and over again trying to wrap my brain around this horrifc sentence. I wanted to reply, no, call them to give me another chance. But I knew that pleading wouldn’t be the most professional thing to do. So I took a deep breath, ignored my quivering fingers and replied with an invoice graciously.
The days that followed were pretty bad. It felt like a really bad break up. I went through the first four stages of grief within the following weeks. At
first I denied the whole thing ever happened by deleting any evidence of correspondence. I even deleted the invoice and contract out of my records.
Afterwards I completely broke down. I cried. I cried for days (my eyes hadn’t been this puffy since they cancelled Punky Brewster) and I drowned myself in massive amounts of self pitty. After a couple of weeks, I learned to accept the loss but I wasn’t completely over the whole scenario. I took a one month break from everything. I closed the door to my studio and replaced productivity with a full days worth of sitcoms and reality shows. Fun.
If it weren’t for my family and friends, getting out of this funk would’ve been ten times harder. Having a support system helps. It was a devestating blow in my efforts to establish myself as an illustrator. But I started to realize and accept that this all apart of the territory.
Putting yourself and your work out there can put you in very vunerable position especially when you’re just starting out. Being able to take the good with the bad…well thats the facts of life..the facts of life... Seriously.
This experience has taught me to accept that rejection, cancellations, and the chance that your project can be put on hold indefinately is all apart of this business. You have the able to keep your head up and move on Martha move on..
In time I took this experience as a compliment in disguise. If a company like that was interested enough to contact me as I was just starting out, I knew I was headed in the right direction.
I hope this helps someone out there. You’re not alone. The greatest success stories begin with failures.
Remember, its better to have been kill feed, than to not have been kill feed at all…in the world of freelancing of course..Being kill feed in any other situation sounds kind of gross.