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Introduction and a beware

Hi all!

First, I'd like to introduce myself. Most folks call me Spearcarrier or Blue. I'm an artist and I format e-books & flat comic pages for a living. It's really the only "job" I've ever been able to stick at. =^-6=

Now for my beware. Well, I have a lot of them... but this one is my worst, and I've sat here long enough on it. I've often over the past few months wished there was a place like this so that others won't be hurt or scammed by this person. Came very close to making one myself. Glad I stumbled across this one through DA instead.

Anyway, this person is not a DA member. They're a writer. They go by the pen name Charles Jolivette and wrote Etouffee, for which I did the cover.

They paid me for that, and on schedule. I have to give him credit for that. Then he had me format his book and paid me a reasonable price for the work promptly.

But then it was like I was their personal inhouse slave artist. I like to do things for my clients like give them extra freebies so long as it doesn't take me a long time (like resizing the artwork I'd already done for something). He started with needing that. Then he started asking for other work that shouldn't have been free, expecting to pay nothing.

At first I went along with it because he'd paid me so well to start with. But when the requests kept coming with no end in sight I finally had to tell him I was too busy to keep that up.

Then he contracted me to design three t-shirts for him to sell to promote Etouffee. He promised payment. Weeks later I still had not received it. Then he disappeared.

A couple of months later he asks me to format the sequel to Etouffee. Despite the t-shirt fiasco, I agreed and did so. I set aside everything else just to get his book done. I sent him his book and once again he fell silent.

I checked Amazon and sure enough, he'd went ahead and uploaded the newly formatting book and got it going. So I knew he was online. Then he contacted me again and said he'd only formatted it as a test, and as one last favor I ended up fixing his cover image for him. He'd tried to upload CMYK as his cover. I probably shouldn't have, but remembering the start of our working relationship I decided it was his LAST chance to make good.

I billed him a composite bill that included the price of formatting AND the t-shirts, which was about 1/3 or less of what he'd paid me before. Still nothing. I sent and resent the bill, and nothing. I emailed him privately and explained hey, I have bills too and I'd done him a favor and even put him first. He wrote me back and said he wasn't aware of the t-shirt amount and that he'd pay me. Then nothing again.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from him saying he was having hard times and really was going to pay me. The thing about that?

I accept partial payments. $10 on the amount due here and there would have paid off the bill by now. It's only $40. It could have been paid off several times by now in increments of $5 even.

I don't know. Maybe this person truly is having hard times. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt on that. But if you are contracted by this person, know that they haven't paid me for a lot of work. They may not pay you.

To end on a positive note: I'm happy to say 90% of my clients are good people. But I intend to use this forum from now on to keep an eye out for who to look for and beware of!

Thank you to whomever founded this place.

Oh, and as per request, here is a screenshot of the bill to at least back that part up.

And another edit: here he is using artwork he never paid me for... and obviously he has the money. I'm going to reiterate: beware this guy! And now my complaining is done. If he ever comes to me again, he's going to get told off quite good.

Artist's beware has moved!
Do NOT repost your old bewares. They are being archived.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 14th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
It would really help if you could add screenshots of your transaction. To see what you mean by demanding a lot of free requests.
Sep. 14th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's not possible. As mentioned before, this is not a DA member. All transactions happened via personal chat or email; with the death of my computer much of that has been lost.

Furthermore, all of this has happened over the course of a full year. I simply don't have much of it anymore. And before I learned of this community I gave it up for a lost cause and deleted much of everything. I had no clue I would ever need them for this.

The most I can give these days is a screenshot of the unpaid invoice. I doubt there's much to that. So believe me or not. I'm not into libel, and if it ever came to such an accusation the other party would be forced to prove I'm lying. I'm okay with it either way.
Sep. 14th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
That's really too bad. I mean, it's not to say people won't believe you, it's that people have lied before with no screenshots. Though I'm not sure how a dead computer lost your emails, unless you deleted them and saved them in a folder?

For the future, it's best to keep everything just by email and keep all "finished commissions" in a folder. That way you have it if you ever need it. Watching this community has taught me to save things for a couple years. I know it seems too paranoid, but if you ever need it, you'll have proof about everything.
Sep. 14th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
You're right. If it had occurred to me that a place like this existed, much would still be there. Well if nothing else I can back it up that he hasn't paid me: invoice date June 27, 2011. And I do still have the email where he asked me to fix the cover issues and promised payment yet again. Not sure if that will back things up or not.

But my point is: I can at least back up that he doesn't pay. That's something. Not sure if I can add screenshots to a post reply or not, though. Doesn't look like it.
Sep. 14th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
Oh and yes: they got deleted because the harddrive failed and I've this annoying (to others) habit of downloading my email and removing them from the server. Blast those evil brown outs.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 14th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
Well normally what I do is have everything into a side server. I've never had a drive go corrupt on me from age and die; just lightning strikes and average things like that. This time when things went down, they went down with style. It took out the main drive and 2 of the slaves. I lost a lot of things that day. I'm really fortunate my comics weren't taken with it, although it was hairy for a moment there.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 14th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
You know, I'd agree with you but those things you mention kind of cost money. And almost happened before my family was moved to Fort Polk.

In transit with our stuff still to be delivered are two terragig (?) drives my hubby managed to acquire while in Iraq. (It's amazing how bartering works in third world countries.) They were supposed to come with us, but.. alas. They didn't make it.

I think when they finally arrive, I'll take your advice and create a backup server. If I can figure it out.
Sep. 14th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
A cheaper way to do it could be to get usb keys. The little portable ones. Instead of saving everything, just save things that sounds "off" to you, since it's much more likely that the things that give you a bad vibe, will turn bad then with someone that seems completely normal.
Sep. 14th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
Don't those go bad rather frequently? I don't normally rely on thumbdrives because I'd heard as such.
Sep. 14th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
Not that I know of. I've seen people have them for years. I meant more so as something to have for now until you can afford something more reliable.
Sep. 14th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
Not usually. I have a vast array of thumb-drives and external HD's and I've never had one putz out. I highly advise getting some cheap thumb-drives for this reason, and screenshotting everything during your transactions.
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:21 am (UTC)
I think thumbdrives tend to have a longer archive life than things like SD cards. They're better protected than SD cards, and I think the companies making them understand that people are using them mainly to store/transport data, rather than immediately downloading the data (for things off of SD cards, like digital camera photos, for example).

You can even run OS's from them. :D
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, I guess you can. My brother and husband do it all of the time. Silly me. I guess I should get a shiny new thumbdrive the next time I'm paid or something. =^-^= Maybe I'll get one of those cute animal-shaped ones I've been longing for.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 14th, 2011 11:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks everyone for your advice: I'm going to try to follow up on all of your suggestions. I definitely will start keeping backups from now on!! Well, except for the hosting: my websites are already almost full.

Also, Dropbox has become my new friend. That's something else I should have thought of.
Sep. 14th, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
The one thing I can say here, is that you should have stopped early on with all these favors. You just kept going and going and it took you a bit too long to realize you were probably being scammed.

In the future, just politely refuse freebies like that. I know it can be hard if you're trying to keep the customer happy, but usually they end up expecting you to do it and it becomes increasingly harder to refuse.

I know you don't have much backup or proof, but I'd love to see the little you do have. I suggest posting them for sure, it'd add some weight to this beware. And is there any other name this person goes by? Any website? What about their book listings?
Sep. 14th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know I should have backed off. I kept remembering what a good customer he was from the start and thinking the usual,"Well... maybe it's this..." I've learned my lesson, for sure.

I'd like to post the proof onto this original post if possible: I can take screen shots fine. I'll probably only have 1 or 2 good ones that really will back me up, though. Is that possible? I remember I had to get approved for this post. OR will I have to post a new one?
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:26 am (UTC)
Screenshot posted. I blotted out part of his email, though. This is a public forum and all.
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
Yea, never do freebies for a client. For friends? Yes, that's fine. But doing work like that for clients tends to make them feel entitled.

I actually have a customer who calls himself my "preferred customer." :| He spends a lot of money on me, but he refuses to wait in line for commissions, and won't pay me in full, and requests discounts (even though he wants me to stop everything and do the commission right now).

I refuse to do requests for him, because he would take advantage of me, just like your client has done to you. I have to make sure he pays me in advance, because otherwise I will be waiting three months for the payment, and only get part of it (because he "forgets" how much he owes me).

Good reasons never to do freebies for clients, and to take at least partial payment up front!
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:17 am (UTC)
Okay I gotta say, if that's your preferred customer I'd hate to see how your other customers are. ;-)

When it comes to paying in advance, the few times I've asked for that I've lost my customers. So I've stopped asking.

Instead I make it clear that if payment isn't given, especially on a cover, rights to the cover will be revoked and the cover will go into my premade cover section to be sold to someone else. This usually works, because places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble,where much of my work ends up, don't tolerate art theft.

My problem here is the bill isn't for art. It's for formatting a book. I just started doing that for the extra coin. It's apparently easier to rip someone off with that because, well, it's not their book. They just formatted it for you.

I don't do extra anymore if I can help it. I simply don't have the time.
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
The only customers I've lost from asking for payment in advance, are ones I wouldn't want to do business with in the first place.

The above isn't just for art, it's for any sort of freelance work. Alternatively, you could complete it, tell the customer it's complete and say that you require payment before they get the final product.
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:49 am (UTC)
I could start trying that trick, yes. I know I should have thought of it, but I so hate to be mean.

Another thing I do is when it comes to art itself, I send images that are too small to be used as an e-book cover.
Sep. 15th, 2011 04:37 am (UTC)
I gotta say, it's not mean to ask for payment upfront before giving a finished product. =) It's business, and a lot of people do it that way (I do, and never get complaints.)
Sep. 15th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
Indeed this. If you ask for even half up front and the potential customer balks they are most likely someone you don't want to work with.

I wouldn't want to go as far as completing without any kind of payment. If it's a specialized piece and the customer decides ('meh, I won't pay afterall') then you've lost quite a bit in time and reselling without modification could be tough.

It's not mean or unheard of to ask for at least a partial payment before you start. It's business and risk management.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )


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