i’m not typically one who openly complains but i’m making an exception today.  but this is more for the good of the portland design and web community, as i have been hugely screwed over and i don’t wish to have this happen to anyone else.  i guess this could apply to anyone in art as well — there are scammers all over the place, unfortunately, and i think sometimes we need to remember that.

a few weeks ago i was hired by a guy with huge visions and shallow pockets who needed a website for his up and coming eco-friendly travel website.  i won’t go into too many details because i am not into soul-harming activities like he is, nor am i malicious like that.  during our very overwhelming association, he managed to obtain about $900 in free services from me.  this is not something that i can afford, but seeing as how i’ve been green since long before it was cool and he was supposedly a decent local portlander with a lovely dream, i decided to help out the extra mile (or miles as it turns out).  i will not speak ill of his incessant arguments regarding the pixel vs. the inch as i must often remind myself that my 17 years of experience in this field far exceed the average person’s knowledge.  the end result: he absolutely adored the design i created for him so despite it all, i felt it was worth it as that is, of course, what i always strive for:

eco-friendly travel company, travel greenest, thief

in semi-short, i worked my bum off for this guy (getting my life’s very first bout of shingles along the way due to the stress he put me through with 20+ calls and emails many days but that is beside the point).  so yes, he loved his site.  adored it.  made final payment so that i could supply him and his developer with the PSDs and they could take things from there.  phew.  done and done.  get check.  he wants 30-something changes.  i say “i can bid that” but end up doing most of it pro-bono — i mean we’re already doing the overkill thing in the free services department (and allowing myself to be hounded dozens of times over the weekends even after kindly requesting he save things for mondays as weekends are family time — apparently he doesn’t have a family ’cause the phone kept ringing and emails kept coming in).  some of the developer’s requests were totally outlandish and WAY above and beyond the norm.  like “turn every single word into its own layer”.  um, yeah.  i can bid that, or you can do that.  not the norm.  i have worked with dozens of top developers.  people at white horse.  microsoft people (yeah, i know, sorry), intel peeps, etc..  separate all imagery and shadows into separate layers (real developers would murder me if i did that — that’s for people who want to figure out how you did what you did, not people who want to efficiently develop a website).  seriously — i’ve been doing design for 17 years (actually, shit, 18 years — i’m old).  i could have sworn he said his developer was 19.  doubt he’s been coding since he was two, but who am i to say.  i was already over $900 in the hole and i just couldn’t do it all, but i did a lot of it (again, for free) and uploaded the work.  hear nothing.  email the guy.  hear nothing.  expect at least a thanks or something.  nope.  the fucker put a stop payment on my check!  on my birthday, too — happy day to me!  this is one of those soul-harming behaviors i mentioned.  people like this are extremely unhappy and wish to inflict their vile disease of misery on others.  i truly believe this.  if i had the money, i’d buy him a puppy.  maybe this would cheer him up a little bit.

so yeah, he put a stop payment on the check he wrote to me for my services!  however he still has ALL of my work — funny part is that he kept begging for all of my source files from the beginning, swearing he would “never dream of stealing anything from anyone because he’s oh so green and oh so conscious and only trying to support our community and the world”.  blah, f-ing-blah.  i will take him to court for stealing my stuff if he uses even one pixel of it, of course.   my recently retired detective friend will help me with this.  and until final payment is made, 100% of all (MY) work is mine.  he owns nothing but the two images he bought from iStock (one of which i modified).

seriously!?  i’m still in shock at this guy’s audacity.  this is how i feed my family, you know — it’s not like it’s a pastime or hobby.  this is how we pay the mortgage (which was due yesterday and did not get paid, incidentally — yes, as a result of his filthy greed).  i try to be a good person in the world.  i go the extra mile for clients and customers every time i can, and even sometimes when technically i can’t.  i lose sleep purposefully to ensure the people i work with are happy.  i do one pro-bono website and/or two or three hugely discounted sites for non-profits of various sorts every year (human solutions, heart to hands, lesta, etc.) and i volunteer at and/or donate to so many local charities:  street roots, run for the arts, portland public schools (not a non-profit but still), cascade aids project, friends of trees, mercy corps, goodwill, take food and clothes to struggling single mamas when i can, etc.  i am a not-very-active member of the PTA at my son’s school (incidentally one of the very few oregon green schools), i’m one of three members on the green team at the school, on the technology board or whatever it’s called (helping with web stuff when needed) — i try to be a good human.  no, i am a good human.  and i don’t know why bad people like to do crappy stuff to us good people, ESPECIALLY when all i was doing was trying to help him way above and beyond what the contract we had indicated.  the contract he signed and agreed to.

so, i wish to warn all other designers, web developers and the potential investors he’s seeking that although the “travel greenest” talk may be pretty, he is clearly dishonest (at least in this case) and i warn you to use extreme caution if associating with this person/company on a financial level.  i don’t want to see other families hurt by his insensitivity and greed.  but hopefully his sick manipulative avarice lasted only a day’s time.  you have to as least assume that everyone has a little bit of good in them, right?  i’m sure charles manson had a good side too… right?

paper background, free, wrinkled, art, website, grungy

here is a free paper background for your website or banner that i made -- very simple and subtle, but pretty enough... for a piece of wrinkled old grungy paper.

this can be a lesson to all, i think.  i am very adamant about not supplying a client or customer with anything before final payment is made unless i know them extremely well based upon past foots in my arse.  this time i felt pressured by this guy and let my guard down — i didn’t supply him with anything until the check was deposited, but i didn’t wait for it to clear (i THOUGHT it had, but apparently i was wrong).  totally my bad — but shame on him!  this month will be rough but we’ll manage.  i will feel serious guilt for feeding my son rice and eggs for lots of dinners, but he’s not going to shrivel up or suffer permanent damage as a result.  a couple grand isn’t much to some, but to others it means the difference between making it in a month or not, particularly in this economy.  good thing i’m a feisty and determined girl!  i’m on day five of a horrible flu but tomorrow, when i feel better, i’m sorting out this crap.

to re-coupe this ever-growing loss (money owed, bank fees, etc.), i am going to sell this design that he didn’t pay for.  i just purchased the two images that he got from iStock so i’ll be covered there.  i will re-purpose it and sell it four times, in fact, for super cheap — just enough to get my money back.  he was very concerned about having an extremely one of a kind website — well, if he tries to use this one that he does not have any rights to use, he’ll have a five of a kind site but it serves him right — but i’m sure he’s smarter than to steal something like that with signed contracts and about 700 emails, non-payment, etc.   i’ll make it less “travelly” but i have to be honest and say that the idea of submitting it to one of his competitors makes me giggle.  not in a mean way, but more in a “please don’t shit on me dude, ’cause i’m not going to take it” kind of way.  i probably would never do that.  i’ll stick to the legit — BBB/small claims court type stuff.   don’t waste my time, steal from me, screw me over and expect me to be nice. after all, until final payment has been made, all copyrights are retained by me.  so i can do as i please with my design.  (just gotta remove the logo he wanted me to do with his stolen hacked font — as if THAT wasn’t a red enough flag.)

on a separate note, i’m making some little pretties for etsy — little banner and avatar sets.  i’ve made so many for friends and think it’s fun.  a nice little stress-reliever (yeah, i should be making about a thousand tonight).  here are three i whipped up last night while having absolutely unnecessary insomnia.  (guess where i got it!)

premade etsy banners, shop banners, artfire banner, avatar

i think i’ll make a few a week for a couple extra potential dollars.  dude isn’t going to totally bring me down, of course, and i’m not going to let him get away with screwing over the little guys (or gals in this case).  i mean seriously — he sat there and whined to me about how his budget was too small for his desires as he has a big mortgage and then does all he can to ensure we don’t have our mortgage.  pretty funny, community-conscious eco-man.  good thing you don’t have to live on rice.  and don’t have kids.  or a spouse who looks to you for equal familial-financial support.

i’ll also be cleaning out the studio and popping up whatever extras i find onto ebay and etsy in the coming days, art included (march is reduced art price month, yay!).  we’ll be just fine, and if not, we’ll starve to death giggling.  nah, seriously.  i’m sure i can scrape up the month’s deficit in a week’s time.  i’m putting on my super hero cape and kickin’ butt like i always do.  (ohoh, i love aprons and my son tells me to wear mine backwards, like a “capron” to be a super hero mum!)

pardon my lengthy rant.  next post will be as wordless as possible.  🙂

and with that, i’m back to bed.  day six i will be void of flu, and fully revived.  and then i shall complete my very overdue finalization to kim’s gorgeous book!