In my experience people like this often dupe recent grads to work for little or no money. Which is ironic because a recent grad is relatively untrained in bringing an idea to market… It starts a conscious cycle of devaluing design. This can happen on the corporate level as well where a company with no design in house will bring in a fresh grad to try out when what they need is an experienced practitioner.
I recommend staying away from these types of situations. They will always pose themselves under the guise of opportunity but look carefully.
Exactly my thoughts… but really no surprise because he’s obviously trying to pinch every last penny.
He told me he wasn’t willing to start me at a day rate because he “did not yet know my value to him”, so I asked him how he could have expected me to meet his deadline (ie the work he wanted done when he came back from his vacation) if he was unsure of my value/ability. Not surprisingly, he didn’t have an answer.
This is a very good point. I happen to work in an industry heavily entrenched in spec proposals, but luckily all of the design work is paid work. I’m not aware of any designers in my industry; freelance, corporate, or agency that do spec design. That’s all fine and good for us designers, however it perpetuates a broad perception with many clients that the design work is actually free, and things that are “free” are perceived to have less value.
So I read Liam’s comment as, “please don’t de-value the work that good designers do”.
It sounds to me like your client is a bottom feeder when it comes to design, and probably doing business in general, he’s going to take the path of least resistance to the the largest volume of work at the lowest cost that he can and then mine the work for a couple of semi-precious gems. As you stated, the products are “lame”, now you know why. If you think you can add significantly more value to this guy’s products through design, then you have every right to set up a contract, that’s what professional designers do. It depends on how far you want to take it, but if in your discussions with him he revealed his competitors maybe seek them out and work for them?
Pretty much exactly this. I knew what it was going in, I just have very little experience dealing with these kinds of people. Lesson learned.
It’s funny because he mentioned people who added a lot of ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ to the products, when there is clearly not much going on in the way of design. I kind of had to bite my tongue and wanted to just hear him out. I did tell him I thought I could help him out a lot and that the best way for me to show him this was to have him hire me at a daily rate so that we could sit together and go through the process. He didn’t see the value in this, so yeah, ‘path of least resistance’ is a great way of putting it.
My first internship was with a guy that sounds incredibly similar to this guy (I wonder if it’s the same?). He was all for the hard sell of how great his company was, how his clients would eat up the stuff they were producing etc etc.
Turns out he ran his company off the back of unpaid interns and a $12 an hour freelancer. Really he just wanted warm bodies in his office to make him feel like he was running a design firm when really it was just an expensive hobby. He was the first to grumble when clients thought he was too expensive or stalled with paying their bills yet he wouldn’t pay for real designers to work for him. Before I left (early may I add) he was starting to discuss how he wanted to bring on four new interns to work in shifts - two starting at 7am and finishing at 3pm, then the other two starting at 3pm and finishing at 10pm. Crazy.
It saddens me that some people will exploit younger designers in such a manner, the ones desperate for any kind of work/experience.
For me it sounds like you are working in Italy
(and here they call it “experience”)
I also miss the “crisis” argument as a reason why they don’t pay you in your story
(serious mode on):
I have a similar ‘client’ at the moment. He convinced me to work for him and royalties will come when a product goes into production. I decided for myself to give it a try knowing there would be a big chance it wouldn’t go anywhere.
In the meanwhile I luckily got also some other clients that do pay and the only thing I can say is that working for somebody without knowing ‘if’ one day they will be satisfied or working for somebody with more or less clear goal is a lot different.
The only reason why I personally would continue is the fact that you are working on something that you can put in your portfolio anyway.
Don’t get over enthusiastic and pre-calculating any royalties in advance that’s just frustrating…
Keep up the good spirit and learn from it for a future possible client/conversation.
Hah, doesn’t sound like it’s the same company. That guy you worked for sounds even more ridiculous though. I just don’t understand how people work without contracts, as apparently this guy claims to do with so many people. Am I just naive here? I don’t get it. I can understand in some situations where there’s a level of trust that’s natural, but with personalities like this, why would anyone even take a chance?
I won’t be working with this guy after all. I wasn’t even going to put the stuff in my portfolio! The only reason I even gave it any consideration is because I need some freelance to help pay bills at the moment.