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Concepting and Pitching Ideas to Clients

By Joyce N. Ho

How should you pitch your ideas to the client?

As a freelance artist, how should you pitch your idea to the client? With nothing but a creative brief and your own wild imagination, what is the best approach to translate your thoughts into an understandable—and sellable—project? If only there was someone with years of experience pitching radical concepts to clients around the world.
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This is an exclusive look at one of the lessons learned in our Workshop "Abstraction Meets Radical Collaboration", featuring the wisdom of Creative Director Joyce N. Ho. While this Workshop focuses on how Joyce led the charge with a team of unbelievably talented individuals collaborating remotely from all across the world, she also shares some must-have tips for pitching ideas to clients, and we couldn't keep those kinds of secrets any longer. This is just a sneak peek at some of the amazing lessons Joyce has in store, so mute your phone and close every other tab. Class in now in session!

Concepting and Pitching Ideas to Clients

Abstraction Meets Radical Collaboration

The 2018 Semi Permanent title sequence by Joyce N. Ho is truly a work of art. It does a masterful job blending the worlds of abstraction, color, form, and typography. Not only is this an amazing piece of animation, but it’s also an amazing example of collaboration. In this Workshop, we take a deep dive into the stunning art direction and design featured in this film, exploring how the project went from concept to completion, and how Joyce led the charge with a team of unbelievably talented individuals collaborating remotely from all across the world.
Founded in 2003, Semi Permanent is one of the world’s leading creativity and design festivals. This project centers around Semi Permanent’s 2018 title sequence which explores the idea of creative tension. In addition to the video walkthroughs, this Workshop includes Joyce's project files that were used directly in the production of these films. From initial mood boards and storyboards, down to production project files.
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Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:
Joyce N. Ho (00:14): The first step I do is I definitely have a call with the client, whoever that is, and just have a conversation about what this brief actually means. The best thing in that call is for me just to ask a bunch of questions and to write down everything in anything that they say. And that's really important for me to refer back to later on because sometimes the client says words repeatedly, um, that helped me concept something. And so when I had the initial conversation with Marie, he kind of described what he thought the conference name of that year, which was creative tension means to him. And he wanted, you know, the titles to feel positive and upbeat and to get people really excited about sitting in the audience and getting ready to experience semi pounded that year. So he described these three things like a pushing and pulling of when, you know, you have a bunch of ideas and you don't know which direction to go.
Joyce N. Ho (01:19): And there's just typically a number of friction points when you're coming up in the night there or in the creative process. Um, and finally there's a sense of release when you come up with a concept or you deliver a project. Um, so these are the ideas that he connected creative tension to in his mind. And he also talked about how design was for good and for the environment. Like he, um, felt really positively about how the feeling of same pound. It was always for the good of the weld. So I wrote these things down in this like initial brain dump as I, as I call it. Um, and off the back of that, I pretty much just write anything that comes to mind, even if they're not very good. And so you'll see, like I do number one, um, I thought maybe each there's four or five chapters on each chapters inspired by a city.
Joyce N. Ho (02:19): Um, you know, the city that the person who I'm collaborating with is located in, um, and maybe it's a mix of mediums like these all like just random points. Um, like I came up with three really general ideas at this point and I typically do this for all my projects. Um, just write a bunch of things and see what sticks. So I typically, as a director or only present one idea, um, just because it allows me to focus my energy on developing something really well, but also like I don't like giving my clients, especially if I'm pitching a general direction choice because typically, you know, I always feel strongly about one idea of yellow, so I don't want to risk my client choosing the other idea that I'm not as psyched about. Um, so after I have this initial brain dump of ideas, I try to see which one I feel the strongest about.
Joyce N. Ho (03:25): I ended up presenting just one, but it took me a really long time to get there. And it was a huge stress point for me because I was like, I need a co like the right concept. If I pick the wrong concept, this could not be the project that I, that I'm really excited about. It took me longer than a diff most jobs actually. And, um, it got to a point where I felt like the internet had failed me and I went to a library. I went to like New York public library to look up books because I was like, nothing in the internet is like making, helping me. So I decided to look at books. Um, and that's when I saw Anna's, Michael's work in like a textbook in biology section or something. And I was like, okay, this is the key reference that I want to shake my, um, idea around, off the back of that.
Joyce N. Ho (04:25): I dive into making a mood board, which is very, very step one of any, any cured process and just decided to like consolidate and like collect all these images that I felt were related to the color, the type and the idea of science and made like mood boards for texture, for color. Yeah. You can see like it's super textural. And a lot of like micro organism, Thursdays, I still felt like it was lacking a skeleton. I always like to weave a narrative, even if it is going to be a very abstract piece. So I was still searching for what that narrative was until I, you know, saw as Hy-Ko's work and decided maybe we could chop or follow a microorganism from birth to death and child, and use that as a, a visual metaphor for creative tension, which was the theme of the conference. So that was the idea that I presented to semi-permanent and because this was a Dropbox sponsored piece, I did my treatment in Dropbox paper, even though I don't normally do that.
Joyce N. Ho (05:36): Normally I just do like a Google slides or an InDesign document with a PDF. So you can see, like, I started with an explanation of where the inspiration for the idea came from, which was an explanation of like how, how I connected design and science together and how I found as hackles work and how that kind of into visual metaphor of create attention. So that was this paragraph. And then I went into like a, just like a story. Basically. I thought the titles could come in three X. So this was a little breakdown of that narrative. And then I went into the visual references themselves and what I liked about them. And then I typically like to include at least a few Martian references as well, because I feel like that since this obviously emotion piece, the client needs to see something also in motion.
Joyce N. Ho (06:29): And typically I talk about a technique either, how are we going to make things, or how are we going to approach things since this was going to be a collaborative piece? I worked down how I thought this process could work. Yeah. Some thoughts about the music as well. And then some like really initial, rough stuff frames of all of the things that I just described into a couple of images, like the color, the big typography, um, the texture that I was really looking for. And these were like, just super rough, but you know, there, the client can get the vibe of how it would come, come together. He loved it for sure. He thought like the idea of like the micro organisms from birth to death was like really awesome. Um, but he did have a few thoughts about what to add to it. So his one I dared to kind of bring in was like humor, which is a very hard note to hit because humor is such a subjective thing.
Joyce N. Ho (07:34): And he then suggested, could this be like a different message of styles? And these were definitely things I considered after he suggested it. But to be honest, there was a lot of things that I just kind of disregarded as well, because in the end this was a unpaid job. So I felt like I had the, I guess the power to say no to some of these, to these, some of these suggestions, because had this been a paid job for, you know, a brand for, um, something that I didn't have creative control of then definitely would have been something I had to kind of push back, uh, kinda like work into my concept. So we talked about it on a phone call and was like, you know, I was like so thankful for his feedback and that he loved the overall direction. I just felt like these specific points were very hard to, to kind of hit in the timeframe that we have and for the overall creative that we were hoping to achieve. Thankfully, Mario was very, like, he was very understanding when I went through all these points. I'm like, yeah, that totally get it. And he would have complete faith in that. You know, what we would make in the long run would be beautiful and amazing for different reasons.