I was having lunch with the immensely talented composer Jim Dooley the other day and we got to talking about our dual roles of artist and craftsman. He had a great take on this Artist's Dilemma which I am using without his permission (though I am crediting him so hopefully he won't mind...) “Sometimes my clients want me to paint them a Sistine Chapel. Sometimes they want me to paint the bathroom. I have to be willing and able to do both.”
A few days later, I was bidding a project with a prospective client. The CMO had reviewed a particular video piece we had done and asked if we had any other video styles he could look at. And it struck me in the question that the problem he was facing was exactly the inverse of the Artist’s Dilemma that Jim pointed out. What he had was the Patron's Dilemma - he knew he wanted/needed something realized – but the certainty ends there. Does he need something grand and memorable like the Sistine Chapel? Does he need something simple and practical like a bathroom wall?
Yes, the Artist's have the dilemma of staring at a blank page. But the Patron has the dilemma of deciding (if I may abuse the metaphor a little further) which kind of page the artist is staring at. The artist can't deliver something until the patron knows what they want, and the patron may not actually know what they want until the artist delivers something. And so the two are locked in a dance - neither capable of succeeding without the other.