When Designers Don’t Play Nice

Design communities are a wonderful thing. The world is becoming smaller with online social groups, collaborations, and access to designers work.  But, like on any playground, some kids don’t play nice. I teach my children to take the high road, but I know sometimes it is really hard not to give in to that first emotion of retaliation. For those of you who felt your work was copied or had a client stolen, I hear you. It really sucks.

I found the exact picture I use on Etsy of one of my art prints for sale on eBay. There was no question about it being similar or inspired by my work. I contacted eBay and they took it down.

At my first job out of college, I heard my boss on the phone taking credit for my copy writing. I didn’t say anything, but it was my first clue that he was a boss-hole.

I met a guy at an Ad Federation event. He asked me about freelancing for him and we exchanged cards. Over the next few months, he took one of my clients. Then, as I was closing the deal with a new web client, they said he contacted him, and they wanted to compare what we had to offer. I am all for competition, but he went through my clients via my online portfolio and negatively talked about my work to sell his own. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind…like a punch to the jugular. We saw each other at meetings. Did he think I didn’t know? The worst part for me was that he didn’t actually design anything. He subbed out work to other countries and used bad themes. In the end, I got the job and still work with the client. And I didn’t say(or do) anything.

I was consulting with a business about their marketing and web design. They had paid someone to design and build their website, but it was still in the creative phase and they weren’t happy with it. I offered to build their site in WordPress. When they talked to their developers, they were told WordPress wasn’t a safe platform for their patient’s scheduling and payments. I totally disagreed and thought the design and coding were really bad, but I didn’t want to say bad things about another designer. They paid me to design the site, which I gladly did. I sent a wire frame, sitemap, and full Photoshop mockup to the developers. When the site went live, it looked really bad. I kept communicating with the developers about changes, but they just didn’t make it right. I knew I had made a mistake by not speaking up. The client ended up going to an agency to get a new site… and it was in WordPress.

What I have learned from all of this is good work always stands out. Nobody can do exactly what you do. Being confident in what you bring to the table isn’t the same as being a jerk.  Do work that feels right and serves the client best. Most importantly, don’t worry about the mean kids. You have good work to do and money to make.