Deadlines and Reputations

August 16th, 2010 | Posted in Freelancing

Nobody like this guy, but….

Some time ago I wrote a blog post about the importance of meeting deadlines as a freelancer. Just the other day my pal freelance writer extraordinaire Mark Evanier posted some excellent advice about deadlines and how not taking them seriously is extremely detrimental to one’s freelance career. Go read that post by Mark. I’ll wait…..

I could not agree more. Deadlines are not always absolute, and many art directors (read: SMART) build in room for late delivery of work. However some do not, and every job is unique. The bottom line is that failure to deliver your work at the time you have promised it is to be delivered is the quickest way to turn a career into a hobby.

Some people really have a hard time understanding this. Their idea of being a successful illustrator/artist is delivering fantastic work first and meeting a deadline second… sometimes a distant second. I have this friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, who is a truly gifted and talented cartoonist and illustrator. He gets some freelance work here and there, and the stuff is does is really superb, but he doesn’t earn a living doing freelance illustration nor is he in any high profile publications. He is constantly pointing out the work of artists in national magazines who’s stuff is inferior to his own, and wonders out loud why they are getting this work and he is not. The answer is pretty simple.. he doesn’t meet deadlines. Most of his jobs for clients are “one and dones”… he delivers the work ridiculously late and even though it looks great he never gets another call from that client. He cannot seem to wrap his head around the fact that the greatest illustration in the world delivered too late for publication or late enough to create a major production problem is less valuable to a client than a good job turned in on time.

The world is full of gifted artists who work delivering pizzas or cold calling people trying to sell them a timeshare who cannot learn that lesson.


  1. Mark Engblom says:

    It’s sad that getting your work done on time is seen as secondary to so many “professionals”. What’s worse, in some quarters, even the consumers of the product do not see what the big deal is. For example, among a depressing number of comic book fans, a chronically late book (anywhere from 1 month or, in some cases, nearly a year) doesn’t matter, as long as the same creative team gets to express their vision. They’re attitude is “it’s done when it’s done” or “you can’t rush greatness”, and it’s futile to convince them otherwise. As you can imagine, this undemanding attitude those types of consumers doesn’t do much to motivate the “pokey prima donnas” to speed it up, since they’ll sell the book no matter how late they are.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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