This little piece of work started off badly. The client sent me someone else's work for reference, thinking it to be mine. The same person, in fact, who I blogged about in a previous post. ('It Wasn't Me').
This does happen. More often than you might think. But obviously, art directors and buyers look at lots of different artists as options and, in firing off emails to them all, sometimes forget to change the name and artwork attached - and their manners. (Yes, I'm afraid it IS bad manners, no matter how busy someone is!)
However I don't take it personally. Of course several of us are in the running - I'm not joking when I tell people I have to compete for every job - and who knows how many people I might have had to pip to the post to get the last one? It's the reason I stay humble and grateful for every single offer of work. No - the best thing to do is turn it around, like this one. I made it clear I didn't do the artwork attached, but yes! didn't the work of this much younger illustrator bear a striking resemblance? Nonetheless I explained that if I did it, it would look different. Did they still want me to do it, and were they sure the Other Artist wasn't available if they were their first choice?
No, they were sure they wanted me, and so I got on with it. The result was pretty and clean, vaguely folky I thought, and the client, The Royal College of Midwives, was delighted. Very often a negative gets magically transformed into a positive just by staying reasonable and humble. The other artist may have said no, or been too busy - but it would have been all too easy to miffed about the initial clumsy approach, and this pretty piece of work would never have graced my folio - or the RCM's 2011 diaries!