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Accelerate Your Art Department

(July 2007) posted on Fri Jul 06, 2007

Establishing best practices in the art department can save time and boost quality. Trimingham describes some methods you can use to initiate such improvements.

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By Thomas Trimingham

You may be tempted to take the easy path by forcing compliance and punishing those who fall short on goals. But the smart manager, who truly understands how to motivate artists, takes the long road of softly encouraging and utilizing a clear set of standards that motivate achievement through incentives and verbal celebration. This may sound very dramatic, but it’s actually comparable to offering a painter a cash bonus to finish a painting quickly vs. holding a gun to his head. Quality artwork typically requires an environment that is conducive to mental focus.

A clear incentive system can yield amazing results. For instance, artists who correctly record their time for every job for a two-week period could earn some movie tickets. How much money is earned and saved in the two weeks by the proper tracking of the art time? A lot more than a pair of movie tickets costs! Incentives are wonderfully useful tools, but I have heard a lot of grumps: “The artists are already getting paid. Why should they get anything extra for doing what they’re supposed to?” This attitude shows a serious lack of understanding about how to motivate.

Remember that the goal is to get the artists to do an outstanding job, not just an average job. An average or mediocre job by an artist costs a company much more money than can be quickly estimated. Think about lost repeat orders, additional art that could be done in extra time—like preprint designs—and how average art affects a company’s image in a service business based strongly on referrals.

Keep the incentive system fresh and creative so that it can continue to motivate. One way is to rotate incentives or have really good ones for big achievements (like a great prize for perfect attendance in a year). Involving the art department and helping its staff design their own system often encourages ownership and motivation in the process as well.


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