How to Manage Your Expectations of Creative Projects


It’s a dilemma of priority that many people face when it’s project-time. It affects all kinds of teams, whether in-house or contracted. Either time is constrained or budget - or both - are constrained yet you still want quality work done. Well, you’re gonna have to make a choice. When it comes to completing a project at low cost, high quality, in a speedy manner, you only get tow out of the three. Here’s some scenarios for you to keep in mind so that you make the right choice in the future...

High Quality + Fast = A pretty penny

I worked on an event a couple of years ago - a very large event, in fact. Huge in scale, with several teams coming together to achieve a vision. A high-quality vision, with the best graphic designers and printing company. From the inception of this event, a commitment to quality was the highest priority for the creative team. So guess what happened when the client started requesting changes to design components three days before creative was sent to print? We had to onboard and pay an additional designer, pay overtime hours to the current designers, and pay very high rush fees to make sure everything would arrive to the venue in time.

High Quality + Inexpensive = OMG why is this taking so long?

In my other life, I’m a visual and performance artist. There are only 24 hours in a day, and we live in a society where we’ve decided that time is money and you need money to live. Since I do not make money from my artwork and performances (yet), but quality is a high priority for me, I have to find spare time to write grant proposals, and save money a little bit at a time. I have to mind my personal cashflow, and purchase materials piecemeal. There’s a series of self portraits I’ve been working on for six months that, given the money and therefore the time, I could produce in one week.

Inexpensive + Fast = That looks like ****

This last example is, again, drawn from my personal experience. A client had a booth at an event and two days before it began, she needed a huge stack of postcard size flyers designed and printed. Lucky for her, my rate wasn’t that high for last minute compositions like this; it helped that she had her creative assets all lined up in a row. What she didn’t have lined up was a quality printer who would do such high volume at the last minute, so she resorted to using an office supply chain store to print - they shall remain nameless (it rhymes with maples). So when she received her stacks of flyers the next day, I wasn’t surprised to see ragged edges and even uneven printing.

So what to do? Well, here’s my opinion: I think the top priority should always be high quality. When you lead with quality as your highest priority, it dictates the respect you’ll have for how long your project will take, and how much it will cost you. Take the time to set your budget and project milestones up for success!

Alexia Lewis

Creative Director + Photographer

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