Help! I hate my boss!

I’m doing a freelance job (interior design for a chic clothing butique). You know when you get hired because you were recommended by a friend of their’s that you once worked for? Then you get all excited because now someone recommended you? And then you find out that your new “boss” not only doesn’t get design but thinks they know better than you?

All her concepts contradicts the actual theme of her store… she’s a daughter of a multi-million real estate guy, who always gets what she wants. She doesn’t understand why you can’t use certain materials for certain reasons, insists that pink and yellow is a great fresh/modern look, it goes on badly. Then she insists (and always in an obnoxious manner) on all these “huge” ideas and turns out there’s no budget for it, so she has to beg daddy for more $$ and he’s making a fuss, so now we’re behind schedule, because princess isn’t happy. At the end of the day, I sulk in my car thinking, of all the designers in the county, why me?

I feel like taking my deposit and just leave the project. I know I don’t have another job lined up, but my sanity is at stake, because I can’t champion my knowledge and expertise, forget any sense of collaboration because of her nature, right now I’m just doing what I’m told to stop her from raising hell.

I want to know if there’s anyway I can leave calmly, with no drama, because I’m not only trying to save my sanity but also my reputation.

Any suggestions?

That’s a tough one, unfortunately it is hard to recognize the path you are on is a slippery slope until it is too late sometimes. Maybe there is a way that you can sit her down and tell her that she is not utilizing your skills that she is paying for and if she continues to run the relationship in this way that it might be in her interest if you discontinued working for her and she hired a builder and not a designer?

I think you need to evaluate what you are going to get out of it. If you stick it out will you get a good portfolio piece? If not, I’d take what I learned and get out. If so I would stick in there and try to win whatever battles I could.


That does suck and I’m familiar with that, I think we’ve all encountered difficult clients.

Unfortunately, I’d rather not recommend leaving a job without another job lined up. I would have to say, have another colleague take your place or stick it out. If it doesn’t make you physically ill, like you can’t sleep or you wind up getting an ulcer, then you’d definetly have to leave.

Stay and do your work.
You should probably take some time to explain why you were hired.

Even if you don’t get anice portfolio piece you will learn something.

Just try to do your best.

Know where you are coming from (but I’ve worked with such a huge brat.)

It’s at times like these when you have to swallow your pride and just realize it is “work” and not a school project that will remain in your portfolio for years.

When working for a client or even for a product manager in a corporate environment, you’ll always run into people that don’t have a clue but still run the show. Keep in mind that it is their a** that gets burned when the result is not good. They are the ones in total control and it is their responsibility. If the best colors for 2005 are orange and blue (I dont’ know) and she insists on pink and yellow, then give her that. When it flops, it’s her fault. You can’t be held accountable when you gave her your suggestions and she refused them.

Something else you can do is to persuade her into her thinking. Don’t make it seem like she is choosing your suggestions, but rather she is making her own decisions that are based on your gentle nudging. That way, she feels she is still in complete control but you get a smidgen of what you want too. I’ve had to do this a few times. Takes a little time, but after a while it’s like leading ET with Reeces Pieces.

Alas, I think Yo! had some really good things to say, but I would really strive to stick it out. And remember, in times like these, Scotch is your friend.

Life is too short to waste on sideshows like that, get out and do something that makes you happy and lets you grow as a designer.

Oh man, I guess there’s no easy way dealing with this, huh. I could just as easily walk out with my deposit and tell her I can’t do it. I think she’ll misunderstand and afterwards, my reputation will be smacked down and I’ll never eat lunch in this town again.

Yeah, I don’t know if I want to put yellow and pink in my portfolio (she wanted something young, modern and fresh, meanwhile it looked like a baby threw up)… I’m thinking maybe include some of my specks in my book too, just so people won’t wonder why I designed such a hideous thing

I did try to suggest other concepts without looking like I’m undermining her ideas… Then she goes “well I don’t get it” or “yeah but that’s not really what I had in mind”… And then when I mentioned that the audience might not understand what she had in mind, she answers “well that’s because they’re not the customer, so they don’t need to be in here.” Then she tries to lecture me on what’s are the coolest trends and things that I’ve learned over the five years of school and training. Oh the WORST part she said to me was “see-- I don’t know how to do this, if I did, then there wouldn’t be any problems.” I blew that off because I was being an adult, but thinking about it now, damn, that should’ve been my cue to tell her off and leave.

Right now I’ve no choice but to humour the princess, do whatever she wants and shut my mouth… and that just undermines our profession. I’ve been looking secretly for other gigs so I can make a clean break, but it’s been slow.

Meanwhile, I just want to crawl under a rock and die.

Tough boss makes you a tougher employee. Learn to deal with her and get what you want. It’s an art, and the next time you meet someone like this again, you will be one of the few who can get the job well done.

My highschool “art” teacher knew crap about art, let alone design. To her, art is supposed to be nice looking objects or paintings. Portraits must follow a certain format, and her “fashion” design formula will get you an “A” in the exams.
I struggled to stay in the class because she was the ONLY art teacher in the school. I choose to do installation instead of fashion, and wasn’t doing anything beautiful. I just had to come out with fake reasonings everytime she walks in to check my progress. I achieved what I wanted, and she thought she understood what I was doing, so no one owed anything.

Sure it will be a lot more enjoyable working with someone who thinks like you, but without opposition there won’t be a second chance for you to rethink your ideas. Try to take this positively.

Oh, my dad is worse than that art teacher, so go figure.


If you’re being compensated properly and asked for a good hefty price, then stick with it and do it for the money until you get a better deal somewhere else.

I understand about saving face due to reputation, but right now, do what you gotta do to get paid. Next time, when you come across people like this, you know when to say no or triple your fee. Either way, you’ll be making a profit for someone you hate or they’ll say it’s too expensive and pass you over, you don’t have to deal with them again.

Isn’t awful what we sometimes have to go through to pay the rent?

It just seems like you’re dealing with an irational person who can’t seem to reason with anything. I think people like this just want to feel like they’re important. They love calling the shots, it gives them a sense of power, control and an ultimate feel of success.

Just stick it out, humouring her seems to be what gets you through the day. I’m sure it’ll be over soon.

…don’t just stick it out…have some confidence in your expertise…you’re the designer…axe the client from hell…get on with your life…it will be over too soon.

Quit whinning. It could be worse. You could work for Kohler.


Care to elaborate?

Someone’s kranky, jeez!

Compromising your integrity. That’s the issue. I don’t know what your situation is and if you’re really starving for work but if it really affects no one else but you then return the deposit and leave. Why have a portfolio of work you hate to do.

“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul - would you understand why that is much harder?”
-Howard Roark, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

“And that’s the sin that can’t be forgiven - that I hadn’t done what I wanted. It feels so dirty and pointless and monstrous, as one feels about insanity, because there’s no sense to it, no dignity, nothing but pain.”
-Peter Keating, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

“I don’t build in order to have clients; I have clients in order to build.”
-Howard Roark, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

I say pitch the situation as a realty TV show staring Paris Hilton. She can be the design director on a product development project every week.

It could be called “Design Hell”.

Good luck…

:laughing: IT’s so funny this was pointed out. Apparently, Miss Thang went to a party that Paris Hilton was in and just for that she likes to tell everyone they’re best friends. Meanwhile, Paris Hilton doesn’t really even know who she is.

But more importantly, I HAVE FINALLY TOLD HER OFF! I made it very formal, I called her father in to join us. (This was right after my contractor walked out on me at that point I wanted to make her pay.) I had told her and her father that, I would no longer continue the project due to the fact that my profession was devalued, disrespected and that Miss Thang is not really qualified to make “certain” decisions… and was also rude to everyone which was why the contractor walked out.

The father was disappointed and angry. Miss Thang was shocked because I attacked her right in front of her dad. Then I walked out.

The next day, her father called me begging me to just finished the job because he’s wasting money along with time. He assured me that he has set her daughter straight. I told him the only time I would go back is if he trippled my price and she backs off for good. The next day he calls and he did tripple the price!

So I took it back, we’re wrapping things up this week and Miss Thang has backed down.

Oh and thanks to those who had good advice!! :stuck_out_tongue: