• Michael Kruso posted an update 3 months, 4 weeks ago

    Hey ECrs. I was asked about what I do and I told him I am a freelance illustrator and painter. He asked what how I go about working and I explained that I create thumbnails of ideas to his request. When we get to one he likes I go and do a refined illustration with color ideas and schemes. I explained I take these steps to make sure the client is happy. When I told him my rate, he askes why my rate is high and he started to get a bit aggressive. I told him because of how much I put my time into each job I am hired on and what he requested was a somewhat small piece (9x12in) I was asking for $110 total. He wasn’t pleased with me. When a talk between a client and employer, and things like this begin to be negative, when is it best to walk away? I stepped back when he continued to berate me and left. Was it possible to salvage this, or was it best to leave it?

    • Biting our tongue because we SOOOOO want to respond but we’ll leave it to our EC community!

    • All right, I’ll start the fireworks.

      Your first mistake was to not give the client an estimate up front (even an outrageous ballpark number) or ask what their budget was (which is what I prefer to do). If you don’t know exactly what you’ll be doing for the client and they’re being evasive or indecisive, show them some of your other pieces and tell them what they cost. I’m not trying to blame the victim here. I know what you do and how much you put in to your work. $110 for one of your pieces is a steal. Hell, I won’t touch an illustration project for less than $500.

      As for when to walk away, you absolutely did the right thing. No client should berate a supplier just because they don’t like the price. You have no idea how much it infuriates me to hear that this happened to you.

      And if you’re feeling badly about it, here’s how it would’ve played out if you stayed on the project… You said the client has already been pissy about your fee and getting downright rude. They strong arm you to lower your rate by insulting you (ugh… so angry right now). Despite your gut feeling, you take the gig, and accept less than what you want for it. And because you hate the way they made you feel, you phone in the project (whether you mean to or not). They get ticked over what they feel is less than perfect work. They still take your ideas and either short you on the money they promised or just outright stiff you. Then they tell all their friends and colleagues about how terrible it was to work with you. Maybe even go so far as to harass you on social media.

      “Holy crap, Steve… you’re so jaded!” Baloney. I’ve been burned and learned from it. I’ve had dozens of wonderful clients in my career because I learned (very quickly) when to turn work away that would’ve cost me money and my integrity.

      Again, you did the right thing to walk away. You stood up for yourself and that’s awesome. I know that you can’t pay bills with pride, but you have to draw a line someplace. There will always be another client.

    • Can I ask for clarification – Did you do any work or was this just a conversation about your fees/process?

      • I didn’t do anything. It was a conversation about process.

        • Then you did the right thing for sure. I am glad that you didn’t do work and then have this client come back and refuse to pay; or ask for a bunch of changes and expect the revisions to be free. It’s hard to say no; but better than being resentful and unhappy later on (both you and the client). After the client gets more quotes/they might come back to you with more respect.

    • You absolutely did the right thing and shouldn’t give it a second thought. I completely agree with Steve. If you undervalue your own worth, others will too. I had an experience a few years ago for a possible commission. The buyer had an idea for 2 wire and tumbled glass figurative sculptures of dancers to be suspended on either side of her fireplace. She scoffed at my price and grilled me about what is was based on and how I came up with it. I noticed she was carrying a $ 5000 handbag (designer, but still factory produced). I know the price I gave her was reasonable and fair. I am grateful for the averted headache of trying to working with her.

      Every client has a budget, but devaluing the worth of your work should not be part of it.

    • It’s ok to fire a client. You need to know your worth and to stand by it.