Pit for a fuckwit client...

So a few months ago I had a business in the area call me about some work. They wanted this and that and the other thing, the first being the bottom-level task of designing, producing and delivering some street signs (yard/stake type) to promote a festival they are holding.

Okay, no problem, we meet, I do some initial sketches, they’re okayed, I do some refinement and background work like collecting high-res logo files from a supporting sponsor, and do a final draft. Which has the word DRAFT faintly embedded across it.

Then, and only then, does it turn out that I am supposed to do this ca.-$1,000 job “in trade” - only the showrunner has absolutely nothing of interest to me; the festival is an exercise, health and lifestyle thing that has absolutely no relevance to my business. Without further discussion, I am thanked and excused. Okay, fine; the guy is one of those people who probably can’t buy a #3 at McDonalds without trying to bargain, wheedle and get the best of a deal, with extra fries. I didn’t look forward to dealing with him.

Jump forward a month, and the signs for the event appear… clearly a rework of my design in very inept hands, with many elements identical and others moved around to make room for a plethora of little biffs and bams and boofs and logos and words. It’s your typical amateur signage, almost unreadable even if you’re standing still in front of it; forget taking away any useful info from a drive-by. (Even I wasn’t sure it was my sign under the goop until I drove by it a second time.)

But it takes no expert eye to see that it’s my layout, taken and crapped up a little. I called the one shop I suspected of printing them and my rep confirmed it… and quickly disavowed designing them.

So I billed him for the preliminary design, handsomely, just to give him a shitty day/hour/minute. He can frame it for all I care - and he has no idea how many ways this is going to bounce back on him in the next few years. It’s a small town and I do have a lot of clients who respect my work… and on whom he depends…

Cool story bro. But where’s the OUTRAGE? Man, can’t you be arsed to throw in a few choice vulgarities?

FWIW, If I were you I probably would have discreetly changed the sign to say something embarrassing for him.

Nah, don’t need any beyond the one in the subject. I fully expected it; driving by the first examplar today was just very mild confirmation that the guy is an underhanded sleaze - which I already knew.

I don’t need to. The signs as printed are almost worthless in terms of promotion; an unreadable blur of blather; their role in the overall failure is satisfaction enough. Seeing them around town will actually be a sour pleasure for me.

Because he never will figure out why his event was an epic fail, and I know. If he’d just been smart enough to listen for five minutes, instead of figuring out how to work me, he’d know, too.

This is why you draw up a contract before doing any work.

It’s one of those gray area things. I tend to skip the formalities on initial projects, especially when they’re small. This was an exploratory deal, the kind I will put an hour or two into showing capabilities and good faith; at worst, I don’t end up doing the work but the client thinks well of me and that adds up over time.

In this case, the guy was trying to wring a deal out of me before anything much was on the table, but I went my usual step-halfway to do the sign mockup and refine it a little. I’m not really out anything I can’t spare, and I know - now, for certain - that this guy is a person and a business I want nothing to do with, even cash in hand. As it’s one of the bigger entities in the area, that’s not un-valuable information to have, and to have acquired cheaply.

Plus I am going to have lots of fun over the next few months playing the guy over the bill (which he’ll never pay) and telling the story to selected, well-placed people.

I expected the story to contain your sign with the word “Draft” still printed across it, with all the extra garbage added. :slight_smile:

My husband worked for a weasel like your client for a few years - he says that the sun will shine brighter on the day that guy dies. It’s a shame that some people use their lives to add nothing of value to the world, but instead to worsen the lives of everyone they come in contact with. I think you handled it pretty well; you didn’t waste too much time on him, and now you know exactly who you’re dealing with.

I made the mistake of giving him the draft in PDF instead of low-res JPEG. It’s not hard to open a PDF in Illustrator (or Photoshop) and remove layers like the one containing the DRAFT text.

If it didn’t give away too much personal/business info, I"d post the pair of signs. But to a designer’s eye especially, you can see it started from the same file.

I passed another one today and I tried, really tried, to read anything on it as I passed at 30 MPH. Couldn’t. Made me grin.