When you establish a good working relationship with a client, you almost become friends. In fact in many cases you do become friends, or at least you find a sense of comradarie. You get to know interesting people with similar dreams, but with each dream being different from the last. Some dream big. Some dream bigger. And some make a lasting impression.
There was one such person in my career as cover artist. In fact, he worked with me from near the beginning. There was just something about him that I connected with very well. It was easy to create what he wanted, as if he’d planted the thoughts into my very mind, and the images I was able to create advanced my paltry skills with each click of the mouse. I looked forward to each and every one of his projects. He looked forward to sending me copious amounts of sample images and direct copy and pastes from his work so I can get a better idea…. even though I really didn’t have to read them to know what he was thinking.
A funny guy with opposing political views and, well, once told me “You are woman. I hear you roar. Rar!” We got into a discussion once on if there was life after death with him opposing the notion and me pointing out my own father’s life after death experience as evidence. We never convinced each other one way or the other, but then again we weren’t trying to be convincing.
And when it came to big dreams, he had some really big ones. He wasn’t content with just a reading of his books in his little town of New Orleans at the local library. No… he hired musicians to write a musical, a what if sequel to “Hair”. And I believe he was going to do it, too.
With my last cover I did for him we fell out of touch, as is the way with working relationships such as these. I kept expecting him to pop up with some random email asking for the next book cover. When Christmas came along, I emailed him to see if he was going to be home as I had a chance to visit New Orleans for the day. I got an automated response as he was out of town, so I told myself I’d get to catch up with him over lunch some other time. I’m not that far from New Orleans.
This past weekend, Friday night or Saturday, my email demons did a weird thing. They spit up old emails at me from as far back as last June. They filled my email box and now I’m hard put to comb through old correspondences, trying to place who I’m still working for and who I am finished with. While I picked and prodded at this and that, falling behind in commissions and taking breaks to catch up on Once Upon A Time I thought of him last Saturday. When I figured my inbox out I was going to have to email him, to see how he’s doing, and double check on that invitation on New Orleans.
Then I double checked myself. I didn’t want to impose. He hadn’t answered my Christmas emails by now and he always did. If I wrote him again I probably was being a pest.
So my thoughts went, back and forth. And then set aside as I worked to clear the mess of technology.
Today just as I could almost see a break though in the work load, I got a strange email from an unfamiliar email address simply entitled “Eddie Kurtz.” I thought, huh. My instincts were right. He needs another cover. Happily I opened the email. But it wasn’t for another cover.
Eddie passed away last Saturday.
They come and go, do good clients. I know this, I knew this. I spent the day a little shocked, a little numb, and a little out of place as I realized there was a hole in my daily agenda. To get things done I set the situation aside and went back to work, television, my family… until it came time to wrap things up for the evening. Which meant going into the inbox one more time.
And that’s when I found them. Every email Eddie had ever written me had been delivered by that internet demon, as if a reminder he existed. Or perhaps that day when I was thinking of him he was saying farewell, it was fun, see you on the flip side. Maybe it was a weird coincidence. Maybe, just maybe, it brought tears to my eyes.
Whatever he and I may have thought or may still think, he has his answers now on what really happens when you leave your shell.
Clients. They come and they go. You make a connection with them no matter how close you get. And when they’re gone, if you’re not careful, you’re going to miss them something fierce. So be friendly as you can, even when they’re rude. Appreciate what you can learn from them. Never take them for granted.
I’m not roaring right now, Eddie. I miss you too much. I’m honored to have been your cover artist.
Eddie wrote and self-published the following books: