Here are some observations from either my own experiences or from what I’ve witnessed in the experiences of others. You’re welcome to use them if you would like to.
- Anyone not upfront about what they need an artist for or what the artwork is being used for may be a toxic client (I bet most of the time). This may be because:
- A) The project lacks integrity and they are looking for an artist to dirty their hands with them.
- B) They want someone who takes orders no matter what and doesn’t think for them self. They don’t want someone who they care about or respect. They want a person with no conscience or backbone.
- C) They are very manipulative and controlling. They may try to lead you around as long as they can in attempt to ‘train’ you. By keeping you in the dark about the project they may try to get you to follow them long enough until they believe they have control of you so they may take advantage of you.
- At any point the client begins to try to speak down to you, rather than to you, I bet you’re dealing with a toxic client. As far as proving yourself to a client, let your portfolio, professionalism, character and work speak for itself. If a client has access to your public portfolio, you are being respectful of them and you are meeting deadlines with quality work (if you have already started work with them), there may be nothing else to prove to them, such as providing free work, having to work for the potential of paid work or put up with abuse (emotional, verbal or otherwise).
- They don’t treat others well (not the same as setting boundaries against toxic people). Perhaps in group settings they are disrespectful, dishonest or manipulative to other team workers or service people (waiters and waitresses, etc.). Perhaps they don’t treat animals well. How someone treats others may be a good gauge for how they may eventually treat you.
- They EXPECT you to do favors for them. Sure, things may not always be straightforward in this world. Perhaps a client suggests they can only pay for a project if they extend it into 4 payments instead of 1 or 2. Sometimes this may be appropriate. But sometimes what a client asks for may not seem reasonable (an excessive amount of free edits, free work, etc.) and not only may what they’re asking for seem unreasonable, but they may also EXPECT that you go along with it (becoming upset if you don’t). Maybe you don’t like that they want to wait to pay until a certain amount of time after project completion, or maybe you just don’t feel good about their suggestion… if you say no to their unusual request for WHAT EVER REASON and they get rude or upset with you, I bet you’re dealing with a toxic person. An honest, mature client may never get upset with you for not changing your business model just to fit their wants. A respectful person may ask but they may be accepting and respectful if you say no as well.