Attach, send, wait, worry: the painful process of submitting a concept to client

As soon as a designer submits a concept, crippling levels of doubt creep in, especially if the emails go answered

It’s been three seconds. OH GOD. I’ve just clicked send. I’m already regretting it, cursing my stupid index finger for clicking the mouse when the rest of my body really wasn’t that sold on the idea yet. This is probably revenge for all those paper cuts I’ve subjected it to over the years. Vindictive digit.

Here’s the story so far, the abridged version: I was briefed with encovering a new book on post-war literary somethingorother; I sent the publisher three cover concepts, all of which I was incredibly happy with; I began to rue.

Each concept hit the brief and the editor’s notes head on, yet cheekily, ever-so-gently veered off from what’s expected of this sort of text. They were the epitome of rational, clean design. Lots of thinking and reasoning and chin-stroking went into them. And right now, they’re all loitering in my head like vast, un-undoable mistakes. And there they go. Sent. Goodbye email, hello crippling doubts.

It’s been three minutes. It’s fine. There is absolutely nothing to worry about, and even if there is, what would be the use? Worrying gets you nowhere (not entirely true – it usually gets me all the way to the fridge and back). Busying, now that’s a worthwhile pastime. While I wait for the editor’s feedback, lots of jobs need jobbing. No point dwelling on this one.

Let’s see, what needs my attention? I know, why don’t I reopen those book cover files? I can see where I went wrong and what could’ve been changed to make them more suitable for human eyes. Perfect. That’ll take my mind off of that. Important to keep busy. Busy busy busy.

It’s been three hours. Why haven’t they replied yet? What’s taking so bloody long? The longer I have to wait, the more things tug away at the back of my sanity. Most of all, it’s occurred to me that option two is just sickeningly bad. Why did I send option two? It looks like a drunken imitation of Mark Farrow being forced to make a Sisters of Mercy sleeve whilst wearing mittens. It would’ve been better to just send the other concepts with an apology note. Option two is going to get me unhired.

I shouldn’t be so precious – lingering insecurity like this serves no good purpose. It’s a bad habit more than anything, another little part of the ritual. I know that they’re perfectly good designs, and whichever one gets selected will be reworked and fine-tuned and nudged into a state of crispy perfection. At the moment, they’re just sketches, ideas. Nothing to worry about.

Unless … oh no, what if they don’t absolutely adore everything about all of them? I may just crumple into a corner and never show my face again. I’ll burst into flames. Take my Mac from me, my clumsy hands are unworthy of its shininess!

It’s been three days. THREE DAYS. That’s too long. There must be a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Maybe they didn’t receive it. Maybe I didn’t send it. Maybe there’s a problem. Maybe the editor is simply unable to make a decision between the three perfectly adequate covers because there’s been an unfortunate freak paperclip avalanche incident and she’s trapped in a stationery cupboard and there’s no way she can get to her emails and nobody knows she’s in there.

Maybe I should triangulate the identities and contact details of her immediate family using various social networks and let them know of this probable calamity. Maybe I should order some flowers, just in case. Maybe I need to get some rest.

It’s been three weeks. Various other projects have come and gone. My inbox makes a bing-bong noise. A reply. They’ve picked option two. They love it. Well that is nice to know. I don’t actually remember which one option two was, but … jolly good.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I was putting the finishing touches to some cover concepts for that new pre-war philosophical thingamajigs book. Pretty damn fine they are too. They’re going to have trouble picking between these three, each of them a pinnacle in the fine art of book coverment. I wonder, has anyone ever won a Black Pencil for an unused book cover concept?

I am quite possibly, I think it’s perfectly fair to surmise, The Greatest Designer Who Has Ever Lived.

Right, masterpieces masterpieced, now all I have to do is … just … click … send. OH GOD.

Daniel Benneworth-Gray is a designer based in York. See danielgray.com, @gray

More from CR

John Cheim, book designer

While it’s only open for a few more days, the ICA in London’s small exhibition on the work of gallerist and book designer John Cheim is well worth a visit

Designers celebrate 50 years of the National Theatre

The National Theatre in London is 50 this year. To help celebrate, it has launched a pop-up shop at its home in the South Bank in London, called Shopping and E•ting. The shop is selling a number of unique products related to the theatre, including a series of limited edition posters created especially by designers and artists including Paula Scher, David Carson, Graphic Thought Facility, Michael Craig-Martin and Jamie Reid…

IIASA_115x115

Graphic Designer

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Centaur_115x115

Integrated Designer

Centaur Media