Gavin Potenza on when to turn down work

The lure of a paycheque is always strong, but as Gavin Potenza explores, sometimes it’s worth sacrificing.

Gavin Potenza on when to turn down work

One of the biggest challenges I've encountered so far has been knowing when I should turn down work. It’s an amazing thing to have clients who want to work with you, and even better when they're paying well. But you quickly learn that not all jobs are a perfect match for you, and sometimes those might actually be better off in someone else's hands.

I do a lot of work through ad agencies. It's always super-organised and they tend to know exactly what they want. That's nice, because you're just providing your vision or treatment to their client or brand. It's really amazing to do work for a client like IBM, say, when the agency is able to push these companies into trying more exciting approaches.

One of the biggest challenges I've encountered has been knowing when I should turn down work

Working directly with clients, by comparison, can be a little tougher. They don't always work with creatives and sometimes don't know the processes, but you do definitely get a more hands-on and deeper connection to the project and company. It makes you more emotionally invested in it when you have more of a say in the project, which can be really rewarding.

As a designer, my job is to make images and solve problems for clients - but it's also my job to steer my career, and keep myself happy and moving forward in the right direction. It always seems hard to turn down a potential paycheque, but I've found, many times, that doing so when the project doesn’t feel right will pay off in the long run.

Words: Gavin Potenza

ADC Young Gun winner Gavin Potenza is a prolific creative who specialises in communicating abstract and complex ideas through his trademark style of 'designerly illustration', for clients including Fortune Magazine, Google and Herman Miller. This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 223.

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