The freelance gig thing has been pretty slow since the first of the year. I'm not quite sure why that is but it makes for some long days. When there's nothing to really be working on, it gets a little tedious. There are plenty of things to do, though, such as try and learn jQuery or figure out what the next trend in design is. But mostly it would be a lot better of there was some actual work coming in. I've had a couple of brochures to do and some print ads which are always fun, but there's no new website to be developing. I spend a lot of time going to freelance sites looking for projects but so far, nothing has panned out. I am reminded, however, about one particular freelance client that I had an epic run in with a couple of years ago.
Back in 2006 when I first started to get serious about freelancing, I was contacted by a guy in Illinois who needed some cartoon football players drawn up for this idea he had for sports cards. He wanted me to come up with a few ideas to see what I could do. Here is a couple of them:
I sent these over to him, knowing that if he liked them he'd need about 60 more and would pay me $10 per illustration. $10 per illustration is extremely low but I wanted the work and was excited to get started. I went over to my local sports card shop and they gave me a whole bunch of actual player football cards, all for free. Now I had all of the poses that I'd need to get started. I waited for the go-ahead but didn't hear back. Eventually he emailed saying that he was putting this project on hold. Oh well, he didn't pay me for the ones I did but maybe, someday, he'd need the others and I was ready.
I never heard back from him and I had moved on. I was working at the local newspaper and my other freelance work was keeping me relatively busy at night. I forgot all about him.
Until the summer of 2010.
I received an email from this guy (the idiot) asking me if I was still freelancing and would I be able to help him with a project. "Sure", I said, "What do you need?" He needed ten drawings depicting characters from "A Christmas Carol" and would pay me - wait for it - $10 per illustration. By now I've been around the freelancing block a few times and although I knew that rate was extremely cheap, I'd go ahead and do it because they shouldn't take up too much of my time and, hey, an easy $100! Boy, was I wrong.
After sending out my first versions of all the characters, I thought that this would be easy sailing. He approved most of them with a couple of minor changes here and there. However, Tiny Tim and Scrooge were not to his liking and he sent over photos of the kind of clothing they should have. Victorian. I had actually done that. I did my research. But they weren't good enough. He sent this to me, "Sorry, but Scrooges clothing still must be a bit more regal and victorian. The hat just doesn't look right either. More regalness needed.
Tiny Tim still not victorian enough."
I reworked them. Still they weren't good enough. Back and forth. Back and forth. It got the point that I couldn't keep doing this so I sent him this message, "Attached are the ten illustrations you requested plus my invoice. Any more changes to any of the illustrations will be billed at my usual rate of $50 per hour. At $10 per drawing I cannot continually keep making changes over and over.
Thank you for your business."
Thank you for your business."
That's when he hit the fan.
"1st of all get my name straight. It's Benn (I was addressing him as Ben. And I've changed his name but not the double "N".). You must follow details if you want to do a good job.
Changes?? Like I tell me kids, Listen to the instructions and then you won't have to do it over and over. How many times have I asked for Victorian clothing. Do you know what that is??? Can you follow simple instructions. I sent you Victorian images. Do you understand what that is?
Keep your images!!"
Rather than getting upset I started laughing. "Like I tell me kids." That's a good one. I had followed his instructions and proceeded to send him an extensive email highlighting exactly what I did based on his feedback. It started out like this: "That was a pretty intense response. I've been in this business for quite a long time and have helped hundreds, if not thousands of customers, clients and business owners get the artwork and graphics they asked and paid for. But I've never run into someone as petulant as you. Let's go over the facts, though, shall we?" Ha! I called him petulant. I also mentioned he had approved at least 7 of the drawings and he owed me for those but until he paid me, they were my property and any use by him would be a violation of copyright law.
His response? "I'M NOT WASTING MY TIME TO EVEN READ YOUR EMAIL".
Fine. Now I have Dickens' characters in my morgue if I ever need them.
But then I got this: "
I saw a posting of a copy of a recent rant of yours at a client of yours. (Name removed) posted a copy of your deplorable comments on several sites. As a representative of several Freelance sites for artists, I must say you are unprofessional and I will do my best to keep you off as many sites as possible. You give us a bad name and you make it harder for ad agencies, corporations, non-profits etc. to trust and try hiring off our sites. Its tough to get business already and we don't need a black eye.
As it spreads and more and more people read your comments, I hope other artists and freelancers learn from your offense.
If anyone knows who Dinah is let me know. I want to personally apologize to her for completely destroying any prospects for any graphic designers to get freelance work. It's all my fault. I did it. I'm the guy that crashed the freelance market. And although I haven't seen anywhere where my comments were posted on some freelance sites, I feel awful that I ruined it for everyone. Ow! I just bit my tongue when it was in my cheek.
And maybe that's why it's been slow since the first of the year.
Epilog: I actually received a check for $100 for the drawings with explicit instructions that they were for his exclusive use. I've been to his site (which I won't tell you what it is) and seen what he's done with them. The drawings I posted here were ones he didn't use. He never paid me the ten bucks each for what's here. He's a scary man.