Looking for help with a new Podcast topic



  • Hi Guys,

    We would love to make a podcast called something like:

    "When Freelance Jobs Go Wrong"

    I'm looking for examples that you might be able to share with us that we can talk about on the podcast? Any input is greatly appreciated! If you want to be kept anonymous just say so here and I'll read from here and keep your name out of the podcast.

    Thank you!!!


  • Pro SVS OG

    Not necessarily a gone wrong, but my last contracted work for hire picture book, everything went along as planned, She loved the roughs, finished sketches and final art, sang praises of the book, paid 4 or the 5 payment installs, but once book and art was delivered she never paid me the last installment and I never heard from her again. I often reissue a final invoice requesting payment and I have radio silence-not sure how I could have solved that one. It was only $200 but still $200 I would rather have in my pocket for work I provided.



  • @lmrush Thank you Lisa! Sorry to hear about it though.




  • Pro

    @Will-Terry I've had a few disappointing experiences though nothing drastic.

    Recently, I was contacted by Scholastic UK to redo the covers for a series of educational books - 30 of them so I was really excited! She said she loved my work and pointed out to specific illustrations that made her think of me for the project (cute, round animals). I was to do the first 3 covers first and the rest a little later. About a week after I handed them in though, she said she had a meeting to discuss the covers with her team and they thought my style looked too young for some of the later grades in the series. They've cancelled the entire cover redo project while they figure out a new direction. It's upsetting because I feel like it's my fault, that I didn't do a good enough job to convince them, even though I was following the instructions that the AD gave me in terms of style and content. They're still paying me for those 3 covers, but I would have loved to do the whole project.. Maybe another time!

    The other story is a lot weirder. I got a tip from the Facebook group of my old animation school that there was this lady hiring an illustrator for a project. I sent her my portfolio and next thing I know she's calling me on my cellphone. This was only the second time ever I received a briefing by phone and I really don't like it because I don't have time to consider, think of questions, etc. This lady in particular was SO STRESSFUL. She was talking a mile a minute, like she had somewhere else to be. She told me "We're doing a diaper, when can you get it done?" I was like woooah there wait a sec, give me more info on the project. A diaper, what? What size, what subject, what..? She gave short and annoyed answers like I was wasting her time and making me feel like I was slow for not knowing already. She was being so stingy on details it wasn't until almost the end of the call I realized she was talking about an illustration for the PACKAGING of the diapers, the BOX, not a pattern of some sort for the actual diaper. My heart was racing like I was doing hostage negotiation or some shit, and I let her bully me into giving her a random quote without asking about copyright, how much it would be printed, etc. As for subject matter she told me "I don't know, do whatever you want. Could be a cute baby with an animal. Maybe show the butt. Maybe a white baby and a black baby, whatever." The whole conversation didn't last more than 10 minutes. But I surmised I was quite free to do whatever I wanted, and I ended up sketching a black baby and a cat showing their butts. Her reply when I send the sketch "What? No that's not what we talked about. I said a black baby and a white baby. Do it again." At this point, even if I needed the money at that time I was done. This had already been the most stressful and confusing assignment I'd ever had and I wanted to stop it before I put any real time in. I told her I didn't think we were a good fit and that I was backing out. Surprisingly, she took it well (better than she took any other communication we'd had before). I quite happily forgot all about this until now haha.. I got a weird sketch of a baby showing its butt out of it.

    DiaperSketch.jpg


  • Pro

    @StudioLooong Lol yes, @BichonBistro has a perfect nightmare story for this!



  • @NessIllustration omg looool. I don't like phone conversations either. My hearing disability makes bad connections and thick foreign accents the ultimate anxiety creator. 5 years ago I would have panicked at something like that, now it would be "please slow down and this is not a great time, can we please talk via email?" or something to that effect.

    Shame you couldn't develop the concept further, it's hilarious!


    For my nightmare, it really WAS my fault. I've had a very challenging time believing in my abilities and that's fine, but it can be incredibly debilitating when you screw up a gig. I was approached by a group of film students to do some animated sequences for their final year film. I was still a student at the time too, very amateur and unsure how the programs or process really worked.

    My first mistake was to not understand how "concept art" worked in terms of client expectations... I didn't specify that the concepts I was creating would not be exactly the final look. I just wanted to make it look cool and tried to make it look like a rendered painting, when in fact the animation was going to be unshaded cel style (ie, outlines and flat colours). They really liked it, but were quite disappointed with the scenes I did finish, saying it didn't look anything like the concept art.

    My second mistake was underestimating the amount of work it required. Animation is not something you put off. If you want it done well, you gotta put in the hours for that. But I didn't think about this, I procrastinated because I didn't know what I was doing and was afraid of screwing it up, so I ran out of time.

    My third mistake was a lack of communication, I didn't tell them I was struggling with all these things and that I hadn't realised how much was involved, so they were absolutely furious with me when they found out how little I'd done and their submission date was on the horizon. After a few emotional phone calls, we had a meeting and I was a wreck. They didn't yell, but they were really unhappy and my anxiety had me in tears. I thought, on top of being a fraud and completely talentless loser, that I was also the worst human being in the world.

    They had paid for the work (which is not so common for student work around here, so that was a bonus), but to compensate for my complete f**k up, I paid it all back, even for the work I had already done (another rookie mistake). They ended up getting someone else to do last minute work, but I don't know how the actual film went down.

    I still carry a lot of shame about this, but learning to let go. It's a great example of "do not do" when it comes to work... we always hear about nightmare clients, but don't always share the stories on the nightmare artists ourselves.

    I sure have learned a lot from it however.



  • @Will-Terry Are you going to offer advise for avoiding worse case scenarios as well? I had some early horror stories but they were when I did web design so I don't think they would be relevant to your podcast. When I first attempted to become an illustrator many years ago around 2010 I had a bad experience doing work for someone who kept moving the goal posts and promising money when she never really intended to pay and costantly tried to get me to do "free trials" for other proects she wanted to do. I learned some valuable lessons- never do spec work, never work without a contract and never start without upfront payment if you can help it. Oh and don't supply final artwork files without having final payment first. Also it helps if you take business classes of some type and remember that you are the boss and can say no to accepting the wrong jobs when you spot them. Try to avoid the problem clients in the first place when you know what to look for- ask lots of questions about the job before considering it.



  • My horror story isn't that bad -- About three or four years ago I agreed to do children's book illustrations for a self-published author. We agreed on the price, which was low, about $700 for the whole book, but I needed the money. The author micro-managed the whole thing: how the characters looked (they had to look like her and her husband and kids), how the interior shots looked (it had to look like her house), and how the characters were standing and what they were doing. I just did it because at $700 I figured I wasn't being paid to think. I mean, over all, the person was nice, and paid and everything, so it wasn't a fiasco. But I don't think I'd do it again, or at least if I did I would set more boundaries.

    When I was doing book layout freelance I had a client that was extremely particular and also technologically inept -- I explained to her how to view the PDF proof of her book in a two-page spread in Acrobat Reader, and she couldn't do it. The book was very image heavy, but all the images she provided me were of terrible quality. There was so much confusion, and every edit she gave included at least one condescending comment directed at me. Even the guy that hired me (the publisher, I guess you'd say) was getting upset with her. That's saying something because that guy had the patience of a saint.

    My real nightmares came from being employed full-time by certain companies in a graphic design setting, but that's another story.


  • SVS OG

    @Will-Terry I don’t have any experiences to share and not sure if this is outside of scope but perhaps the topic could include some discussion/tips/pitfalls of navigating those freelance job websites -eg upwork, freelancer etc. Is it worthwhile to pursue jobs on those or should you concentrate on finding jobs through more traditional channels - that kind of thing.



  • I've got a couple!

    The first one isn't terrible, just kind of disappointing:

    I was working with an author on a project they were self-publishing/self-promoting. I had negotiated good compensation from her to be paid upfront before each group of illustrations would be done, she had done her research on marketing and was able to tell me her game plan, she had a contract and a lawyer for both of us to talk to--all was good on the business end.

    She was doing a graphic novel style short story anthology of retellings of classic fairy tales with a sort of the-women-were-actually-in-charge-of-what-was-happening to them bent. Removing the damsel in distress trope, if you will. It was my first big freelance job and I hadn't thought to request the manuscript before signing the contract. Once I'd signed and been paid, I got the manuscript to work from and there were some issues I had with the content and how I felt women were being portrayed as sort of malicious and self serving. Lesson learned there. I was conflicted about having my name all over this project and having friends and family wanting to read it considering the content. But the author ended up having some emergency health issues and I haven't heard from them in a year, so I'm considering the project shelved.

    This second one is more of a facepalm, what-was-I-thinking-taking-this-job situation:

    I had another author approach me wanting illustrations for his book. There were lots of red flags in the initial meeting such as him starting off the conversation with, "I'm really looking for more of a partner in this idea than an illustrator" and he proceeded to tell me about how his idea should be made into book series' and movies and action figures.......yeah. I know. I chose to overlook these flags mostly because I really needed the money and had somehow made him understand that paying me a fair rate was non negotiable. He was clearly not professional at all and working with him was such a headache between poor communication and him not knowing anything about the industry or what he wanted from me.


  • SVS OG

    Ohohoho! 😂 i’ve been waiting quite sometime for someone to start this conversation. Buckle up! Here’s probabaly one of the worst horror stories you’ll hear. Back in early 2015, when I was just starting in illustration and had just discovered Upwork, I applied to a job posting and was hired to illustrate a 24-page children’s book. This was the second book I got to illustrate. The first was a picture book for my mother to use in her class. So you can just imagine the experience and confidence eminating from my 18 year old self. Of course, I took the job. This was the first time anyone is willing to pay me to draw for pete’s sake! This was huge!

    To the author’s credit, the story was great and I really did enjoy it but here’s when it gets uglier. We started the project at the start of November and the author wanted to finish it by December for the christmas rush. HE WANTED ME TO COMPLETE A BOOK IN 1 MONTH! 😂😖 I should’ve backed out right then and there but I was too stupid and too naive. I accepted the job for $75 USD. I GOT PAID $75 USD! Oh gosh, if I could just travel back in time, I would’ve smacked myself. I agreed to do a 24-page picture book in 1 month for $75. Can you guess what happened next?

    So the project went on. I was still in school during this time so I don’t have the luxury to work on this project for a whole day everyday. As expected, I wasn’t able to finish the book at the agreed date. It took me maybe a couple more weeks to complete it. By this time, the client was furious. I expected him to be considerate but hey, he paid me $75 for crying out loud! He wanted to see his money’s worth! I submitted the illustrations, glad to be done with all of it (I don’t know if it made the Christmas rush) and what do I see after a few months? A complete digitally redone version of my work in his book. The client hired another artist to recreate my illustrations digitally, talk about adding insult to injury.

    From this fiasco I learned a few things:

    1. I can’t finish a book in 1 month. Almost nobody can realistically. I’d have to work day and night to even get it done and that’s not considering the revisions.
    2. A book costs more than $75! Regardless of what media you use or what stage you are in your art journey, the work you do for a whole book is more than $75.
    3. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. I know I was also to blame for this whole thing for accepting this project, knowing what was expected of me, and not delivering. However, I’ll be damned if I’ll say he didn’t take advantage of my skills. LOL 😂 I mean come on! 75 bucks within one month?!

    Well, I hope you guys learn something from this.



  • Omg, this thread is making me ride a roller-coaster of emotions! I am so looking forward to this podcast.



  • I'd like to be anonymous if any of these are used. Names/companies will not be shared.

    Hired as an emergency artist for TCG art promos for their new set. They were paying $700 per card, but with their new straight to dvd movie they had reduced card prices to $300/pc. I was hired to do 3 promo cards. I read the contract ( it was finally given to me when the art was nearly complete), and they failed to reduce the original kill fee ..They paid that kill fee to the original artist, which supposedly ate their budget.. The ad paid me for the rest plus a tip out of their own pocket, which I did not expect. But even worse, because it was so far into production they FAILED to put my name on the cards, supposedly the card borders had already been done up and no one cared to look at them when a new artist was brought on..so the original artist that failed and got paid a good amount for nothing, and got credit on the cards(I completely redid the cards, their work was not used, nor had they come close to finishing) . This was for a big company.. This was a decade ago and really hurt my career, I didn't get to use them as folio pieces, and so had no big companies under my belt to look for more big work.. wtf. I also haven't had a company like that to work for since. 😞

    Same company, I did concept art for their movie, designed the main characters mounts, did coloring for the characters, clothing, etc. My name was supposed to be in the credits, it was not.

    Different company. Mid size. Horrid scope creep with threat of no pay. Hard to fight when it is a foreign company. When 5 kids are agreed on for a page, and they demand 10-20 more and it kills the look of the page, it's horrible. Same company, over directing each page when the AD has no design skills, and now the pages aren't portfolio worthy but they're as happy as can be.

    Different company. Did an art test for a game, they said they LOVED it, "if we were to redo the art this would be absolutely perfect!!". Jump ahead a year, they come back to me and want me to do the art for that game. All new art, they hated the style of the artist that failed. so I resubmitted the art they loved, with a slew of new designs. They were beyond rude and smashed it down saying it is nothing like the art they were firing the original artist over, even thought they said they hated that art and wanted a new style, I sent them the e-mail where they fawned over the art, and they stopped responding. They never paid for the art test. This is also a company with multiple people having to approve art, and everyone has their own idea of what it should be. Multiple ADs fighting over a look can make it a nightmare for everyone.

    Client comes to me wanting a large memorial pet portrait. They give a down payment, they LOVE the art, I send them a low res finished scan, then they never pay. Months later I get an excuse that they are in jail, but I don't think you can e-mail from jail. I don't know, I kept the original, but it was a waste of time.

    A long time ago I was hired for stamp art, they made me do a phone call, pressured me into doing the simple outlines for a few dollars each, I was in need and they were easy, so I did it. Then they say after the first ten, "I feel like you aren't putting any effort into these" which was insulting considering the price, and I was spending too much time on them, and they were far nicer than their other work, and each were of the same quality as the last. I requested that we re-negotiate the price to allow for more time to be spent on each, and I get a nasty phone call "I'm spending $500 on each of these to have a die made, my husband is a police officer, so you better not try anything on me".. Uh, without the art you would have nothing, someone can pay $500 a piece for die cuts, but no more than $3 a piece for the art? (I did not say that). So I dumped the whole project, and immediately picked up a far better job. Don't let people pressure you into doing something you don't want to do, I'm much better at saying NO now, even over the phone.

    Another good one, game concept art. We agreed on style, poses, and character designs. I finish them, they love it, but they want all the poses changed as they changed their mind last minute. They threatened not to pay, and only gave an extra $100 to redraw everything, and they were pissed about that. I did it just to get it done and get the money I was owed, which was much more than $100. They did pay in the end, but man were they rude. They also said they hated the style after they paid me, when they were over the top excited about it for the couple months I was working on it, using the words "perfect, splendid, beautiful" over and over. They also forced me to do voice meetings when it was never agreed upon, and did not pay me for that time, they wasted a lot of time in the meetings talking about random things..Something that should have taken 5-10 minutes would take 2-3 hours and I would have to keep asking them to get back on subject. I hate voice meetings and phone calls, as there is no record of what was said. I can take notes, but can't hold things against them when there isn't literal proof.

    How about when the art goes well, get paid well, but the client has 0 concept of marketing and tanks their kickstarter and everything else. So it's not a good portfolio piece.. They refused to build a website, or general page dedicated to the project (I built one for them for free, and they refused to use it). They had 0 following and did not pay for any ads, did not make any announcements, it was a book, being a new author they refused to share an excerpt from the book.. How are people supposed to judge how you write?! What if they backed it, get the book, and it's like a 6 year old wrote it? Kickstarter isn't a charity, people back what they want, you have to give them a true reason to want it. Not say "It's the best thing ever!" and share nothing about it..Also no discount for KS supporters, they wanted full price for everything, they were using it as a store.. I've stopped working with most indy authors, unless they have a decent size following to begin with, and some sort of track record. I've worked with several startups that never launched.. Many pieces in my past never got to see the light of day and are still under NDA, which is sad because some were pretty dang neat..Also If the piece isn't under NDA, and the project isn't even searchable why share? I feel like it makes me look bad. "Here is an awesome cd cover... For a band you can't even find.". 😞

    I could list more, that that is already a wall of text.

    Stand up for yourselves people! Know when to say no, and when to back out if you've already said yes. Get everything in writing, use contracts, be weary of small indy projects, be weary of foreign projects as it's very hard to fight any issues.

    Even big companies can screw you, but it seems to be less likely because they want to stay in business.

    I honestly gave up looking for big work because of these things, I haven't submitted anything in about a decade..... I've only now started to build a portfolio to start looking for big work, it wrecked my confidence. I've been getting by with a couple long time good clients. One I've been working for, for 9 years. Just been living a simple life.



  • @CLCanadyArts I'll probably delete this at a later date. 😕


  • SVS OG

    @CLCanadyArts don’t delete this. This is so helpful



  • Years ago (I think in my late teens or early twenties), a friend invited me to take photographs for a park district's promotional material.

    It was pretty casual. I don't think we even really set a price--which was good, because it kind of fell apart since neither side knew what we were doing. I knew I could legally photograph anyone in a public setting, but didn't have knowledge or experience of what kind of releases or permission you'd need for advertising.

    On their end, they didn't give me any guidelines past a "people enjoying parks" kind of idea. No number of images, what they'd be used for, etc. I think I took some pictures, but suffered from a lack of direction. But I am happy that I was honest and let them know from the beginning that I wasn't a pro. Looking back, I should have asked for advice from a teacher. I think at the time, I would have been hesitant to bother him, but now I realize he would have been thrilled to give me advice.

    My recommendations would be to do research and ask the client lots of questions, especially if they don't seem to know what they want, and to ask others for advice or help.


Log in to reply