Your project checklist
When I first started Closer&Closer I had no way to manage and organize projects. The process was haphazard, scattered, reactive and ineffective. Some projects went just fine… Until disputes about project scope, usage, creative direction began to crop up. The lack of clarity ended up eroding the trust between our artists and clients.
Since that time we’ve created a project checklist to help us manage our projects more effectively. The checklist below allows us to keep our projects well organized and running smoothly for our clients and artists. A well run project creates a collaborative environment between our artists and clients.
Please use this checklist to improve how you manage your projects. Whether you’re a Producer, Art Buyer or Creative Director who is looking for ways to improve how you work with freelance artists or you’re an artist who is trying to manage your own projects on your own. Creating a list like this can mean the difference between a successful collaboration and failure.
Project Summary. We put together a project summary for every project. Nothing too complicated. Just a few sentences to outline the main priority of the project, timeline and other key information that might be important to see quickly.
Project Objectives. Get clear about the objectives of the project up front. What does the final artwork or animation need to accomplish? Does it need to make an audience laugh? Is it to sell a product? Is it to tell a story? Or does it need to move someone to take action?
Project Deliverable(s). List out each of the project deliverable(s). Be sure to include the creative process for each piece. Make sure that the client and the artist both agree to this early on before doing anything else.
Creative Brief. Describe what the artwork needs to feel like, look like, and accomplish visually. Using strong key words like: Bright! Bold! Colorful! Is a great way to guide the creative without being too limited. It can also helpful to write a list of what the final artwork should not look like. For example, Dark, Intricate, Sharp, Violent, etc.
Visual References. Come up with 3-5 visual references that the client and the artist can draw from throughout the project.
Visual/Written Content. Outline the exact written copy and visual elements that need to be included in the final artwork. It can also be helpful to rate visual or written content by order of importance.
Usage Requirements. Always ask for or provide specific usage needs for the final artwork in quest. Usage rights should include the length of time that the artwork can be used, in what mediums, exclusively/non-exclusively, etc. The point is, it should be clear how the final artwork can be used, by who and for how long.
Project Timeline. Clearly define the project timeline. Be sure to include important milestones.
Production Specifications. Outline production specifications that need to be met by the final deliverable(s).
Schedule the project Kick-Off. Set up a date/time/place to kick off the project with your team. Give everyone an opportunity to ask questions. Make it an opportunity to get in alignment before moving forward.
Regular Check-Ins. Regular (usually weekly) check-ins are crucial to maintain momentum on a project. Use these check-ins to make sure that meaningful progress is being made and to address challenges that are sure arise in any project. These check-ins will build rapport and trust with everyone on the project as well.
I hope that you can take this project checklist and use it as a template to create your own. None of this is set in stone. We’ve created this checklist from years of experience and we will continue to evolve it as grow and learn.
Let us know if this was helpful for you. Feel free to share how you manage and organize your projects. Either as a producer at an agency or as a freelance illustrator.