the saga of the mead labels




here is a mead label that i made for a certain brewery in detroit.  this was my first lesson in “make em fill out a contract dummy or you will get screwed over”.  this brewery asked me to design 9 mead labels for them.  i was quite excited as this was last summer, right after i had quit my job to pursue freelance illustration.  so i set to work.  nine sketches approved turned into 9 drawings, then full color images.  i was working cheap, dirt cheap.  as a friend of mine who is a wonderful illustrator (and someone i turn to for advice) told me i was practically giving my work away.  i was asking $60 per label, half of that was in barter for pizza and beer.  which if you don’t know is a very good deal, as the mark up on both are quite intense.  so i finish all of the work, about 40 hours worth, and bring the labels to the brewery.  the assistant brewer is a dear friend of mine, but i feel is bullied by the head brewer, and was the one who got me the project anyway.  so the head brewer finally saunters over and decides to acknowledge my existence and look at the final product.  he likes it, and calls over the owner. the owner who i generally regard as a dickhead wanders over, gives me a condescending glance and introduces himself and acts as though he has never seen me before and will never acknowledge in the future that he knows my name.  this angers me a bit as i have been frequenting his very small establishment for the past 5 years, on at least a weekly or biweekly basis.  so he likes the work also.  now the negotiations begin, when will i get paid etc.  so the head brewer then asks me for the originals.  and i ,having just read up on my copyright rights, answer no.  not unless i am being paid a lot more.  you are leasing my artwork, you do not own it.  he mentioned wanting to hang the originals in the bar, so i am trying to be accommodating and say that he can make some nice print outs to hang up but i keep originals unless he wants to buy the original artwork off me as well.  now all of this could have been negotiated so both parties are happy, except he starts trying to bully me into giving him the originals.  first going for the old argument of , we are a small business (as if i am walmart; i am a small business too) then when i am not budging he starts in on the tack of ‘it’s just art, everyone else who has done labels for us has just given us the artwork’.  then it progresses to the ‘you are just starting doing this so why should i pay you more, if i wanted to spend a lot of money i would have hired a big art firm’.  at this point he stops and we decide to renegotiate in the next week.  i am honestly surprised that i stuck to my ground through his bullying and manipulation as i was increasingly getting more and more upset and confused.  so i go home and just start crying.  i feel worthless and like i really messed up this job.  after emailing said friend about his opinion of the situation and my rights as an illustrator and did i mess this up royally, i felt better when his response was; ‘no you didn’t mess up, you are giving your art away for that price, don’t do that, that guy is a prick, do you need me to visit him with the lead pipe i keep in my car?’.  i also got some sympathy and a healthy amount of indignation from patrick as well.  so the next week rolls around and i call the brewery, and the head brewer has given me the wrong number.  i am pretty sure it is on purpose, as it has an assanine answering machine message.  so i call my friend, the assistant brewer and she says it is a bad day for me to come in.  so i call the next day and it is the same thing.  at this point, i don’t want her to be in the middle so i say give your boss my number and tell him to call me and we can renegotiate.  that was last october and he still hasn’t called.  i have not been there since either and i am not still waiting for his call.  i have restrained myself from total shit talking, but if anyone asks if i want to meet up there i always say no and give them the reason why i will not go there.  so now i have all these lovely mead labels that have no homes.  so i thought maybe i would just display some here.


Filed under drawing

2 responses to “the saga of the mead labels

  1. Pingback: more mead labels « Staceymalasky's Weblog

  2. eve

    ARRRRGGGGHHH!!! I know I’ve heard this story a few times, but it still gets my blood boiling. It is infuriating. What a punk-ass weasel. Glean what lesson you can and move forward, as I’m sure you already have. Your work is fantastic, Stacey. You have such a distinct style and obvious talent. Looking forward to traveling the world with an original!! Keep it up, sister!

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