Who would have thought that my own personal advice would come back and bite me in the ass. A few years ago, I wrote about how we as artists shouldn’t fall prey to spec design. Spec design is quite simply, doing the work before you’re compensated for it. I have always been confused by this ongoing problem with graphic designers, but it seems to be a common problem in my field.
This baffles me.
I won’t jump on my soap box just yet. What I wrote about a few years back in 2008 still holds true for me. Unfortunately, given my recent vulnerability due to my unemployment status, I figured I’ll do a little bit of work just to make sure the client knows what they’re getting from me is not only good work, but so they’ll ultimately be 'wowed' with the finished product.
I was recently contacted via email about a company wanting to hire me to design some pop art images for their soon-to-be opening boutique in Florida. This company sells couture designer items that have been pre-owned and at a much cheaper cost than buying them brand new.
The owner loved my pop art pieces of Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, and wanted me to stick with this same concept of using designer items to hang throughout his boutique with a pop art twist. The only difference between my original designs and the ones he wanted for his boutique are a change of colors to reflect the colors in his logo and more designer items to add to their overwhelming assortment of items for sale.
When I spoke to his partner on the phone, he said he wanted me to come up with some designs to send his way, and if they like them, they will then allow me to “go to town” with whatever designs I wanted.
I made it very clear that typically I don't do spec work without some sort of compensation beforehand, and as he started to say he was OK with that—me like the weak person that I am, went ahead and said I would send him a design or two without an upfront deposit.
What was I thinking? Because I got tongue-tied in the process, I assured him that I will only do a few pieces to send his way as jpegs. Ugh!
Here is where the frustration begins.
Naturally, I went ahead and created a few designs—which thankfully didn’t take too long of my time—and immediately emailed to him.
Day after that—nothing, so I decided to get proactive and I contacted him to let him know that if either of the designs that I sent him were not acceptable, to please let me know and I’m happy to change whatever colors or designs he wanted.
It has now been almost a week and I have yet to hear from either of them.
Yes, again I was screwed over. For whatever reason, I don’t know. All I do know is I didn’t get compensated for my time, nor did they even have the courtesy to get back to me to say yay or nay. Nothing!
Like we always say—“live and learn.” If only I had followed my own advice (as well as many others in my field) and not accepted it without a deposit up front.
So even though I didn’t get compensated, nor did I get to “go to town” with designs with this particular businessman, I will now learn by this mistake and move forward and hope that whatever business venture or client comes my way, I will continue to present a contract to them and require my typical 30–50% deposit up front before I start the work.
I'm mad, and I could kick myself, but at this point, you just have to learn from your mistakes and move on.
Louis Vuitton Speedy
Louis Vuitton Mini-Noé