Design practice horror stories

Curious what are the worst things that have happened in your career… such as XXX client used a design without paying or junior partner walked out with Rolodex, or as happens in my case, under-recognition by employer for contribution of design to overall sales.


Purple, I wouldn’t be to hard on the under-recognition, just keep it under your breath until a performance review comes up, see if you’re compensated well, if not make your case, if they ignore you, start looking elsewhere.

Under appreciation is something many designers encounter. My experience with it basically dealt will management’s lack of appreciation for the many long hours I contributed to the business. 80% of my weeks for 40+ hours and I had quite a few 50-60+ weeks, long days, weekends, call-ins. I did my best to make myself very accessable and available to management whenever I was needed. I cancelled vacation plans I had made 4 months in advance to stay and help with a project that came up at a moment’s notice. I never left work without asking if I was needed to stay late, or if there was anything they needed done over the weekend. I was salary so overtime was not an option. At an 8 month review I was told that I needed to put in more hours, and thus was not compensated for my efforts nor given the benefits promised to me 3 months prior. I no longer work there. Now, I only complain because my salary was sub-par even for a straight 9-5 gig, and they wanted me to continue to work at said pay for at least another 6 months AND work more hours, fair? You be the judge.

Our firm accepted a rush job (money talks! :smiling_imp: ) and 6 of us suffered 12/hrs a day for 3 weeks straight as a result. Instead of a project manager, one of the partners ran the project and was emotionally abusive.

We met our deadline and the client was happy (later even won an IDEA award), but we never got anything from it in the form of a bonus or appreciation. Several of us quit soon after, and I learned later that the partners stopped trying to manage projects and focus on the business.

I was hired in as a designer for a small but well-known firm. I performed all of my described job functions with no hiccups at all. All was good until they wanted a new website. When they figured out that I knew Flash/Dreamweaver VERY well, they wanted me to do a new one for them on top of my normal duties. So I thought, “cool, more money.” Nope, even though they paid 20K for the last one, they wanted me to do it for free. I can see their side of the story, but damn, that’s a lot of work. So, I worked on it for about 3 weeks, 60+ hours each week, and quit literally right after loading it up on the server. I encoded it so it would be a pain in the ass to ever update. And to this day it has yet to be updated.

not one to hold grudges. wasteful. i’ve avoided this thread. but giving in…

year after graduation consulting to design firm. big project. clear guidelines. too clear. most know the drill in that case: wallpaper. now we only needed 10 marker renderings (big honkers). three of us and had maybe a week. senior id only had time for 3. next senior not too hot, did 3. newbie me gets 4. after 3 i’m stumped. so last day i bend the rules…

next day i get reamed for doing what made perfect sense to me. VP Design all worked up. “Have to show 10. Have to show 10.” guy was ready to have a coronary he was so wound up.

so we all sit in the meeting. you guessed it, #10 won out. not even a question. gets better. i compromised it. change i made was only partial and intended for a bigger, better idea. so i explain it to these old engineers.

month later they come back with new project: my idea. thats great. i’m happy. product comes out. huge success. huge. as in Save the Company big. saves them millions and sells in the millions (still on sale).

BUT to this day i’m still irked i’m not on the utility patent. almost 10 years later i cant shake it. stupid i cant put it behind me. and for me thats the horror story part. i usually dont sweat that stuff.

What goes around comes around. Here’s a story I heard from a “reliable” source.

There’s this firm and the president laid off an employee. The employee went to a corp’s ID department and eventually became the director of design, and it turns out that the corp he’s leading is the biggest client of the of that firm. So the president who laid him off now has to suck up to him big time.

Of course I don’t have the details about the lay off but that really taught me to be nice to people, no matter what.