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At what point do you drop a client?

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  #1  
Old 01-26-2007, 07:33 PM
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Swampy Swampy is offline
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At what point do you drop a client?

I've had a situation arise that has forced me to make a decision and this week I decided to give up a job that I've done every year for the past 5 years. I usually made about $2500 a year on this project, but the client finally pushed me too far.
The deal was I would produce a 28 page full color 8.5 x 11 souvenir book for the Annual Caladium Festival sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. I sold the ads, put the book together and paid for the printing, then delivered 5000 copies AT NOT CHARGE to the Chamber for them to give to attendees of the Festival. At each festival, they held an art contest and the winner's work would be featured on the poster, tee shirts, book cover and other promotionals the following year. Since I printed the posters and did the book that featured the art, I would get the art digitized and develope the poster artwork.

I also did about 20 spot ads for the Chamber for various tourism magazines, newspapers etc. Now here's the kicker. I did all this AT NO CHARGE (with never a thank you) to the Chamber. It was good marketing tool for me (build my portfolio) and I did make money on the books, but I was not commissioned or contracted by the Chamber to do any of this work and they never paid for the books although they did pay for the posters at my cost.

Long ago, when the current Camber Director was hired, I met with her and explained to her what I had to offer her. I was very sure to explain to her that I did not work "by committee". Give me the job and I will do it. With each passing year, she enterjected herself iinto my business more and more. Telling me what graphics to use in the book, what photos, even where I should place ads (back cover, inside covers for the ads were up charged) so she was basically nosing into my income!

This year, I developed the poster and gave her a proof copy (my copyright on it of course) and she started in again. "The Committee" feels there needs to be more color variation in the background."..."Please add a 'glow' behind the globe" (uh..what would the light sorce for a glow behind the earth be?) I found out that the committee never saw my poster, only one Chamber volunteer who fancies herself an artist.

I finally called her and told her I was off the job. Find someone else to do the poster and publish the book. I explained that I felt my designing of the poster consisted of two goals. 1) Get the hard facts of date, time and place correct. 2) Put the winners artwork into a poster graphic in which nothing I do as a designer detracts from the winning art. In otherwords showcase that art.

Her response was a casual "Okay".

I submit my poster to you for your review. Thank you for letting me rant. :-)
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  #2  
Old 01-26-2007, 07:44 PM
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Photo678 Photo678 is offline
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Re: At what point do you drop a client?

Such is the nature...

maybe i misunderstand, but this was a book/poster/etc for them?....and you offered your services free of charge for marketing, portfolio etc etc?

If that is the case, I think you might be in the wrong here. Pay or no pay, they are the client, they want what they want.....

Please don't take this the wrong way, but based on my understanding, it sounds like you let your pride get in the way a little bit....you did it your way, and when they tried to get some revisions you felt hurt?.....

If im wrong, please correct me.......but i run into this stuff all the time, you will never be able to please everyone all the time, off the start.

edit:
I tend to agree with the color variation...the earth is getting swallowed up by the blue, and it is very hard to separate....also the idea behind the glow, I think, was to separate the two a bit.....
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Old 01-26-2007, 10:24 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Re: At what point do you drop a client?

I have had similar experiences over the years and I think your mistake is that you give it to them for nothing. When you first start this they think that you are really something doing all that work for them, but then they get used to getting it for nothing and then the product becomes valueless over time. And their opinion of you goes down also. Lets face it if you where any good you would be charging them for all the work.

If its free, it has no value, otherwise you would be charging for it. Thats just the way people think. For an example of that, I have a friend that wanted to get rid of an old desk, so he put it out in his front yard with a sign that said "Free". It sat there for a number of days, so he carried it back into his garage for a week or so, then put it out again but this time with a sign that said "Desk for sale, $20.00". Someone stole it the first night.......
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Old 01-27-2007, 04:37 AM
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NancyJ NancyJ is offline
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Re: At what point do you drop a client?

Sorry Swampy, I'm going to have to agree with Photo678, I dont think your client is being unreasonable, at the end of the day, regardless of whether you charge for it, its the client's product and he does have the right to say where he wants things to go and what he wants the artwork to look like. You also say that you make around $2500 a year from this - so its hardly free of charge.
S to changing the winners artwork, I would have suggested a different background colour (as I assume that isnt part of the artwork) rather than alter another artists work.
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Old 01-27-2007, 09:18 AM
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Swampy Swampy is offline
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Re: At what point do you drop a client?

Points all well taken, and thank you for the input.

I think Mike hit the nail on the head. I've done it for free and they do not value what I do. I am out $300 for the digitizing (There were three pieces of art to be digitized. The winner's art, children's poster and one they call the People's Choice award, which are all featured in the book).

If I felt it WAS a committee request, I would change the background, but I learned that the caladium growers, who do serve on the festival committee, never even saw my artwork. The request was coming from the Director and a Chamber volunteer only.

Based on my standard charge of $40 per hour, I also did over $1200 worth of artwork (display ads, and a trifold brochure layout) for them last year at no charge. My fault, I guess, for trying to be a nice guy. They may have a hard time finding someone in our rural area that can/will do it all for free.

Nancy..."You also say that you make around $2500 a year from this - so its hardly free of charge." It was free to the Chamber. They never paid me a dime. My income came from the advertisers. Nothing prevents me from doing a book this year on my own and distributing the 5000 copies directly to the advertisers, the art league, the Caladium Arts & Crafts Co-operative, or the Caladium Grower's Association.
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Old 01-27-2007, 09:37 AM
joey florio joey florio is offline
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Re: At what point do you drop a client?

They just said, "OK"? No book, poster etc.?
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Old 01-27-2007, 09:51 AM
Cassidy Cassidy is offline
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Re: At what point do you drop a client?

Sorry to hear Swampy, hard not to take personally
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Old 01-27-2007, 10:20 AM
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Swampy Swampy is offline
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Re: At what point do you drop a client?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joey florio
They just said, "OK"? No book, poster etc.?
Yep, which tells me they do not value what I do for them. Lesson learned.
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Old 01-27-2007, 11:21 AM
JimJam JimJam is offline
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Re: At what point do you drop a client?

Thanks for sharing this with us Swampy. I wish I could stand behind you and pat you on the back but I guess Photo678 and Nancy are right. I think the best thing to have done would be to do this years job as before then decide if you would do the job at all next year or start charging for your work.
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Old 01-27-2007, 12:19 PM
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Swampy Swampy is offline
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Re: At what point do you drop a client?

I forgot to mention that the festival is in August so they have plenty of time to "Git-R-Done". I usually didn't even start selling ads or working on the book until mid-April. Poster art was usually completed by the end of Feb. So, I wasn't very far into the project time wise, and they still have time to find someone else to do it.

Thanks again for everyone's input. :-)
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