Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Price of Creativity

Just recently, I have been faced with a horrible client nightmare. I have been tricked into believing she will pay for the design services I’ve rendered for her. Only to find out she was just looking for ideas and all my efforts were flushed down the drain. She signed a contract, we made an agreement. But she’s denying all my proofs. A number of times have I requested for payment. And a number of times I’ve been ignored and rejected.

So here I am: Unpaid. Cheated. A victim.

Any designer in my position would go thru a legal battle to obtain what is rightfully theirs. My family, friends and colleagues advised me otherwise. True, it would just be a waste of time waiting and fighting. Clearly, I don’t have the time for any of those. I would rather spend my time on the things I value the most: my family and my work.

This experience has got me to thinking: Is this the price of creativity? Do people really think they can get away with not paying for the designs they requested?

It’s not a simple sketch of idea. Much thought, time, research and hard work go in any form of design – interior design, creative design, graphic design, etc. But a lot of people still think that it’s just a simple drawing, a sketch, even worse—a doodle. So why would one pay so much? And why would some think they can get it for free? I just wish they would understand that any design presented to them is not just a drawing. It is a work of art.

As Susan Kirkland wrote:
“Even when you do a fair days work, there are people out there who revel in getting something for nothing. They can’t be avoided. Their only goal is to get a deal (either by wheeling and dealing or just plain stealing) or get something for nothing. And it’s surprising the number of people who pride themselves on delaying payment as long as they can. Talk to anyone who works for the gas company, they will tell you some of the richest people are the hardest to collect from. Human behavior gets wacky when it comes to money, so expect the worst when collecting from individuals.”
Lessons Learned

I may not have earned a number of thousand bucks, and may have lost the designs I’ve worked hard for, there were a lot of lessons I’ve learned from this experience:

1. Always put everything in writing. Not just the contract. But every approval, every revision and every request must be properly documented.

2. Always ask for a down payment. I always do. But in this one case, since the culprit was a good friend of someone dear to me, I believed her word. Never in a million years would I do that again.

3. A signed contract is powerful.

4. Do not leave your designs with the client, even if she signed your contract.

5. I should not let one bad experience put me down. This will make me stronger and will force me to make better in my craft.

For now, I shall let this pass. She knows she has done something bad to me. But being a person of good moral value who practices professionalism, I will not let this one bad experience ruin my dreams. I will never stop making beautiful homes.

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