Separation of Friends & Business

I believe in a firm wall between church and state, and not mixing friends and business. Sometimes, it doesn’t always work out, despite my best efforts. Here are two examples.

I have a friend who is shit with money, specifically, paying me for work I’ve done and other friends for money he borrowed.

He seems to forget that about five years ago, he asked me to design his girlfriend’s business–all of it from the logo to flyers to business cards and a website. I did so and even gave them a friend discount.

It took them–I say them, but it was really my friend since he decided to take responsibility for it–months to pay me a quarter of what they owed me. Like so many others, within a year, the business failed. In my friend’s head, since the business was no longer in business, that meant that anything related to it, e.g. the design work I did, was no longer relevant, ergo I never got paid for it.

I wrote it off as bad debt. I learned my lesson on that and decided never, ever to do business with that friend again.

Fast forward to a month or so ago, and this same friend asked me to design his business–all of it from the logo to flyers to business cards and a website. I turned him down. I told him I was too busy with the new job and all, which was partially not even a lie. The real reason, and the part I didn’t bother mentioning again, was that he still owed me money.

Being an asshole, he gave me no end of shit for this. “You’re always complaining that you don’t have any money, and here I am trying to throw some your way and you turned me down.” It was a damned if I did and damned if I didn’t situation. I think I made the right call since at least I didn’t waste time designing things I’ll probably never get paid for.

After weeks of hearing him bitch about how I turned down “free money,” I lost my temper one day and told him that I would never do business with him since he still owed me money for the last job.

He was entirely shocked as if I told him that I had Elvis propped up in my closet.

“What job?”

The girlfriend, the business and going out of, the logos…

“Oh, that? We paid you!”

“No, you paid me about a quarter of what you owed me.”

“But we went out of business!”

“How is that my problem? If you take your car to a shop for tires and your engine explodes two minutes after driving away, that’s not the tire shop’s fault. You still have to pay for the tires on your broken car. In fact, you can’t even drive away on said tires until they’re paid for. You used my logo for about ten months without paying.”

So, now he’s mad at me. And I cannot honestly give two shits. Let him be mad. I really need some better friends apparently.

My sister got a new iPhone 6 to replace her perfectly good iPhone 5, which was actually newer than my perfectly good iPhone 5, because she’s not a big fan of having any money in her bank account apparently.

She wanted a case for her new iPhone. Redbubble, where I have my wares, already has cases for the iPhone 6. She took a look at the ones I have on there and said she would order one of the cat cases, but she didn’t like the black or brown or white cat I have on there. She has a gray tiger tabby, you see. She asked if I could make a gray one with stripes.

Sure, fine, whatever. So, I turned this…

Screen shot 2014-09-26 at 10.33.14 AM

…into this.


I didn’t time myself, but I think it took about twenty minutes to change the colors and add the stripes, then another ten or so to upload the files and add it to Redbubble. It wasn’t particularly difficult, but that’s still a half an hour of my time, which for freelance design work, I would have charged $25 for a half hour.

I showed it to her that night and she didn’t like the purple, even though purple was one of the colors she requested as a background when I asked her. “It’s too lilac.” So, I changed it to this, which took another ten minutes of my time to change colors and upload the files…

graycat-iphoneI showed it to her that night and she was happy with it and wanted to order it. Fine. Great. Order it.

“Can you order it?”

Sigh. She ordered it through my Redbubble account.

“Wow, your discount saved me tax and shipping costs, plus a little extra!”

“It’s not a discount. You paid the manufacturing cost. The part you’re not paying for when you order my things through my account is my profit. That’s my profit you saved. You paid me nothing.”

“Oh. Well, you don’t have to be so grumpy about it. You’re still getting your design out there. I’ll tell everyone where I got it.”

Great, so all your coworkers can come to me and order things “at a discount.”

All told, when you add up my time and deduct the profits I lost for ordering it wholesale, it cost me almost $50 to design a phone case for her. I’ll have to sell about eight of them to break even.

This is why I hate being a graphic designer; people don’t want to pay you for your time. This is also why you should never mix business with friends and family. Just say no.