The situation I'm in is this: I take custom repeatable pattern commissions that can be printed on fabric, wallpaper, books, etc. I had a client ask me not to sell their design, which I didn't, but I had it publicly listed on my Spoonflower as part of my portfolio. I recently attended a few events that involved me sharing my website with potential clients and editors, and since surface design is an interest of mine, I felt the more work the better.
Fast forward to this week and I get a short email from said client asking me to remove the pattern since it's their character. I'm very aware of artist rights, and not having written over rights I'm fully allowed to have it posted on my shop. It's worth noting, however, that I make next to no sales and was not exactly worried about it selling. Not having it listed for sale, though, would mean it wouldn't be visible on my main page. Editors don't exactly spend tons of time scouring every page on someone's site. You can see where I'm going here.
It's also worth noting that said client and I were on good terms with one another up until recent events that made me uncomfortable to the point of distancing myself. Regardless, I tried to stay as collected as possible to get across 1) That I own the rights to the image 2) I had no recorded sales on the fabric, and 3) The shop is part of my portfolio, which is why it was posted. They acknowledged that Spoonflower would not remove the art, so they informed me that they would come to Artist Beware if it was not removed. Feeling as though my hand was forced, I removed the pattern from my site.
While I feel my actions are justified, I wasn't willing to run the risk them posting about me. So my question is this: When confronted with the threat of an Artist Beware post, what can you even do? This is such a small community and niche audience that I feel it's dangerous to even risk them going through with it. I'd appreciate any input.