Live. Learn. Bad Work Experiences and All

Life has been moving at a million miles a minute and when each day is quite eventful, that generally means an endless inventory of blogs that need be written. Ramen, travels and sports aside, I wanted share a working experience I had this year to hopefully  encourage other designers, contractors and independent business workers to be more aware and possibly be better protected in each working transaction.

If you were to ask me how long I've been an artist, I'd like to believe all my life, but as a working one, about six years at companies and a little under nine as a freelancer.  Throughout my years contracting I can make two solemn statements, aside from this experience I'm about to share with you, 1) I've never had a client not pay me, let alone have to battle with them to do so and 2) I've always found a way to work things out w/ clients whether financially or creatively because I wouldn't work with someone that I didn't feel good about.

This experience taught me that sometimes instincts are wrong, that sometimes the most pleasant people are the most deceiving and when things go downhill, you wish you had more documentation than just emails. 

About 7 months ago, I was introduced to president of the Multicultural Motion Picture Association, Jarvee Hutcherson, who is now also on the committee for the American Society of Young Musicians, by another industry professional by the name of Dick Michaels.  He was desperately in need of an artist to create event marketing collateral for the 17th Annual Oscar Week Student Filmmaker Luncheon.  He described the cause, and I believed in supporting the recognition of independent creatives.  I was also incredibly appreciative and excited to be able to create work that would be tied to The Oscars and of course, the glitz and glam of Hollywood.

I knew it would be a grand opportunity and he explained the budget at that time was unknown because they were still finalizing sponsors, so I agreed to work without a definitive agreement, contract or anything aside from just a promising email.  The project began where everything from the logo to the program, invites, tickets and stationary all had to be done immediately and I explained that although I appreciated the consideration I could not in faith complete it all in such a short time for no pay, because I had other contracts I needed to complete first.

With that, Mr. Jarvee Hutcherson expressed his need and how they had no one else to contract to and that he would pay me once the event was over, based on a percentage (that I was too dense not to establish upon) of the final sponsorship amounts.  I worked double time to finish my other contracts and to also get work finished for the award event, since I'm not one big on sleep.  I genuinely said in my head "hey it's Hollywood, he's too networked of a figure to swindle me and they're supporting a great cause, it'll be fine."  Looking back, I can completely see how I had "take advantage of me" written all over my face.

Fast forward a bit, I got everything done in time, he had said everyone loved the designs, logo re-vamp, invite and more and the event went forward. I emailed Jarvee 2 weeks after the event and he had mentioned that they were still counting and divvying up sponsorships and that he would be in contact with me soon, ending his email in gracious thanks and kind words.  2 months later the same story and praise, 4 months later I send an email at how dissapointed I was that he fell through on his word and how I conducted work based on trust that he would come through, he replied with many apologies and promised to call.  Now 8 months later, I've copied my lawyer in on emails, back and forth and I sit in expected disbelief that I have officially been ditched for dust.  The disbelief is more so in the fact that I allowed this to happen and conducted things so openly.

It wasn't until I wrote Jarvee an email this last Tuesday, stating that I will be writing about my experience with him and posting it to every possible outlet, that he finally said "things have been rough, I'll send you a small something." to which I replied " I haven't seen one dollar from you let alone a small of anything."  He assured me by saying "look, I said I'll pay you ok!"  At this point it isn't even about the money, in fact my lack of confirming a dollar amount or percentage proves 2 things, one that I was incredibly dumb in this instance and two I never really expected a huge payment, but more so some sort of token of appreciation.  I knew I was designing for a cause and I thought how could an event with big stars, lots of media attention and someone so

I'd like to re-iterate that I know I totally had this coming, but again in the past decade I've never had an issue and I'd truly hate for one bad experience to ruin my trust in my clients forever.  This was also the first client where I never established any numbers or details with prior to working, because of time, loose info and a bad judgment call. 

Jarvee Hutcherson, who is great at apologizing and promising in curt emails, was never obnoxious or rude (aside from emails or phone calls at 1am when things needed to be done).  This was my experience with him and professional is not the word I would use to describe this whole ordeal.

If you visit the website you can see my logo being used, I didn't design the page and am on the fence about posting the print work I've done for them due to sticky complications.

Many lessons learned, to which some I already knew but one that I'm sure all collectors know, if someone was going to pay you, they would have.  One bad experience, noted for the books and hopefully a reminder to all. 

Here's a video of both gentlemen (Dick Michaels who introduced me to Jarvee Hutcherson)

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