Over the past few weeks, I have been working feverishly on an installation for a large entertainment client in the Los Angeles area where I live. I can’t share the name of the client or photos of the work we created at the moment, but I can share my experience working as a member of a team of vendors who never met each other, but who all came together to design and create an amazing event for our client. We all had the same goal: to make sure the event planner’s vision came to life, and most importantly, to make sure the client was happy.
There are many challenges working on a large-scale project like this. The biggest challenge for me personally is not knowing the “big picture” when I start my design work. I come from an accounting and business consulting background, so I like to have a clear understanding of the full project and how the work I’m tasked to complete fits into it. I’ve always been good at creating the small details. That’s my job. But it’s also important for me to know how my small details fit into the larger scheme of an event so I can better anticipate, and thus avoid, potential issues.
For this project, I wasn’t in any meetings directly with the client, so I didn’t hear the many details firsthand, or what the event was about, which means I couldn’t ask questions of the client. So, when I met with the event planner, I had to ask these questions of her. She was able to provide me with enough of the information I needed so I could see how my responsibilities fit into the grand scheme of things.
Another challenge with events like this is the short timeframe. In the event-planning world, clients sometimes decide to hold an event within a very short time frame between when they make the decision to start the planning and the date of the actual event. The vendors, therefore, are often are not given a lot of lead time.
When I was called in to this project, I only had three weeks to design and produce my work, and there was a LOT of work to do: oversized custom signage, bookshelves with custom backings, a large acrylic sign with the client’s logo, custom graphics, and lots of detail work. Plus, I had to juggle all the other work already in my queue for other clients. Good time management is an essential skill for those of us in the event planning business.
In order to help me meet my deadlines, I also had to rely on my own crew of vendors to help with some of the production work. I have a top-notch team of sign makers, printers and other vendors who have the same work ethic as me. They understand that I am not really their client, rather, my client is their client, that they have to do their best work every time, and they have to do it on time and to perfection. And they do! So even though they weren’t involved with the event planner and didn’t help with the installation on site, I consider them a very valuable part of the team because without their expertise and the professional quality of their work, the overall success of the installation would not have been possible.
One of the most satisfying parts of my job is when everything comes together onsite and the client is happy with the finished result. That was true for this installation. And because there were so many people working “behind the scenes” and offsite to make sure this project came together, most never having met one another, it truly is a magical experience to behold!