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Thread: freelancers, workers, can you relate to my dilemma?

  1. #1
    Senior Member mg33's Avatar
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    Okay, I am going to try and keep this short, although I don't see that happening:

    For those of you who don't know me or are new, here is a little background: I am a Advertising major/Architecture minor in my senior year of college, and I work for a software company as a graphic/web designer and I also have spent the better part of the last month creating the first magazine ad our company will ever have. I have worked there for four months now, and I am the only person working there who knows anything about graphic design, the visual aspect of web design, advertising, creative planning and the million and one things that go along with creating advertising. Everyone else is either management, database people, programmers, or network people. Nothing against them whatsoever-they do what they do and I do what I do.

    Well, this is a company that is headed for good things, we are slowly getting there, and our product is better 10 times over the next competing product. As a person who came into that position seeing a company on the rise, I have been excited about having a hand in creating an image for them, re-doing the web site, and creating advertising for them. It's not neccesarily what I want to do after I graduate in May, actually I want to go to grad school. But for where I am right now, it's very cool to have the oppurtunity to do what I get to do.

    Now here is the problem: I have worked on creating an advertisement for us that will be in two magazines in October. I've been able to do it becuase that is what I learn, what my passion is, and what will present a good image of the company. I was asked by our president to change up the colors, which was no big deal. It actually worked out better that way.
    But then, today, I was asked to start changing all these things that are in place on the ad becuase they should be-becuase that is what I do, what I learn. The suggestions and changes that needed to be made completely threw out design principles, placement, how grids were layed out, and overall general appearence. There are things you just don't do in an ad, I avoided those, then today was clued into how they were going to be changed-pretty much abandon what I had created-something I could do becuase I learn that.

    How should I feel about this? The woman who is handling the photo print- I spoke to her tonight on the phone, and she said "what did you think of all that today" meaning what did I think about the changes that were being made as if flipping a coin and if heads is up, remove that line, if tails is up, keep it. She also made it sound as if our president wanted her to design the ad in the first place, as if I was just there to organize the ideas on the page for her! Man, if that is not the most undermining blow I've had this week, I don't know what is....

    So how should I feel about this? Anyone else ever been in a unpleasent situation like this? Should I say anything to someone? What it comes down to is that it sucks to be the one person who can design and create advertising, but in the end "who cares." That is kind of how it feels, like I may just be there to do "whatever" and not appreicated or recognized for the talent I have and what I learn.
    I mean, I realize this is not my $7,000 being spent on the ad, and that it is not my company. But it doesn't feel all that great to pretty much get "shut down" like I have. I have been e-mailed one of the suggested ad alternatives, which I am pretty sure was a suggestion from our president.
    It's not too good... Looks like any other off the rack ad I'd expect in the magazines it will be in. (Insurance Technology) I put alot into doing research, working with ideas and layouts-because, again, I learn what it takes to do this stuff-not throw a bunch of elements in the air and whereever they land that will be fine. And I was looking forward to having something good for my portfolio, something under my belt before I graduate, something in a magazine to show my professors, and now I could care less. That sucks, plain and simple.



    Please someone try to relate to me, because I don't feel all that great about the situation at the moment. It doesn't feel too good to think that I am not being taken for what I can do, what I can offer to this company. Should I say something to someone?

    Anyhow, if you read all this, thanks, I totally appreciate any comments about similiar situations or advice.

    Thanks

    mg33

  2. #2
    Diaper Changer

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    Cheers

    Man... I know you must be frustrated man. It's hard to your thing and have ppl constantly asking you to change it. But that's the way it is.... u haven't really experienced much yet... wait until a client comes that doesn't even know what exactly he wants or knows anything about.

    He's gonna come to you and say he sees this site and etc etc... when ur finished he then says... oh... I saw this other site could you do this. Then... ahhh.... I'm sorry man but after thing about it I don't want X, Y, + Z.... they are HELL I tell ya.

    So... it is tuff... I feel your pain man... but hey... that's why you are here.. cause u know we're here... I wasn't gonna log on and something said I should... well this is why...

    take a look at this for a change eh

    P P P P PEACE !!!

  3. #3
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    Know the feeling

    I've been in that same situation all summer long. I work for a sound design firm that has been doing commercials for over 20 years. We have a client list that spans nearly every industry (we made things like the intel logo, taco bell commercials, and about 1/3 of all the music on tv) recently this company has had me doing flash work for web sonfications. I spent many sleepless nights learning flash and how to manipulate sound, and then composed 4 full pieces of music for a concept site. Everyone loved it except the execs started to give creative feedback. Needless to say they aren't creative at all, so to make a long story short, my 4 pieces of music and all my creative input was watered down into a terrible mess. They know this, but it's too late. I did learn a lesson here: EVERYONE THINKS THEY HAVE TALENT but many people have no creative talent (or taste). Once again, I'm completely disallusioned with the corporate world. I'd rather freelance and starve then put up with stuff like that all day. Just imagine having a 4 month, 70 hour a week project butchered to death. I feel for ya man.

  4. #4
    HELP>>>ACTIONSCRIPT DICTIONARY
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    I wish there was an easy answer here for you Mg33.

    I can relate to your situation from this point of view.

    We have clients who come to us for webpage design. My boss is a very talented designer. He can whip stuff out like nobody I've ever seen before.. and it's all gorgeous. The client then goes through the "review process". Which basically means all of a sudden they are now designers and take what was created for them and totally mucks it up. UNBELIEVABLY SO. What we give them is art what they end up having us create resembles more like a bunch of squares and/or boxes all stacked up on each other. Basically it sucks.. commercial art is hard.

    Ultimately it is "their" product that they are paying for. Even though they are most likely giving us money because we have proved to them that we know a thing or two about designing for the web. It is only after we give them this initial offering that the hack and slash begins. I tell you what ends up being created is less of our design and more of their "review groups" and "branding meetings" or other such nonsense that makes it to the web.

    This sucks for us because we have a lot of talented people and it feels as if our ideas are ****. What about our company portfolio? Who wants to put their idea into our portfolio? That is why we say "keep the mock-ups". That is art that was created from our little heads and hands and could have been great had those little "focus groups" any kind of vision besides the inside of their .. well enough on that.

    What was the point of hiring you? Was it to handle their creative direction? If so, do you tell the pres how to do his business deals? Or the head of programming how to code? It sounds like the definition of your role at the company might need to be looked at. I'm not exactly sure how you should proceed as that is your decision to make.

    How long do you think that you are going to be there? Are these ads going to make or break the company? Can you explain the ideas behind why you did things a certain way so that an understanding is made of your visuals? and do it in such a way as to not offend anyone?

    As for your portfolio..just remember to keep your mock-ups.

    The art that you created will be valuable in your portfolio whether or not it makes it to print. You made it, the design came from you, your capabilities flow through it. People who see it will recognize that I think.

    Well I have babbled on for a while now and I hope that I helped. Good luck with this. Perhaps some good fortune shall shine down on you.


  5. #5
    Former Employee of Satan Napalm's Avatar
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    I think as designers we're all in pretty much the same boat. As soon as the clients come to us for a website they always try to convey what they had in mind but they rarely know themselves. So you go off putting your heart and soul into this and it gets shot down.

    I've had the pleasure to work with a few customers that put their trust completely in you. That is brilliant but these kind of customers are few and far between.

    Can we rename this thread to disillusioned and depressed designers seek same? ;D

  6. #6
    Senior Member mg33's Avatar
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    Thanks to the three of you who have replied so far, I appreiate it. :0

    Antibody- when I was hired, they were looking more for a programmer or database SQL person. But I had some of the web stuff they wanted, and in the end I was told that my majoring in Advertising got me hired, and that that would be good for them in the future. Go figure...
    I basically do many things there, from doing Excel stuff to Word to adding stuff to the website, to learning Flash for a month or so , to doing research, writing things up, plenty of things, and I was fully aware of eventually doing many tasks when I started there. I still enjoy it very much, I am learning some technical things, and it beats waiting tables, which I did for two years.
    But my state of mind right now is where I want to say"Give me a chance to do what I love. Give me a chance to do what no one else here can do."
    Our existing web site was designed by a programmer/business person. As I say anytime I say the previous sentence, nothing against him whatsoever, and nothing against programmers at all. It's just that as far as visuals go, look at the sites designed by programmers and the sites designed by graphic/web designers (talking about the visual function of the site) Most of us agree that those of us who do graphic design and stuff for the web that are pretty good at it know that there is a reasoning behind the visual design. Sorry, these days it's gonna take a little more than a programmer who knows HTML and writes links and overall copies text into place, throws in some gifs, and thinks that site is amazing.
    The world is changing under our feet, and visual communication-getting the message across, building interest, everything looks impressive-that is what it takes these days to sell something. When I see the plain old textish simplistic html site selling something, and find an attractive well built, inviting site selling the same thing, of course, I'm gonna do my research as to what I want to buy, but the attractive site is going to leave an impression on me.

    I may sound like I have a lot of big ideas for someone who is only 22. But this is what drives me, what I am starting to live for, where I want my future to go, what my passion is. That mentality makes me want to make the most of the situations I am in-at work, with creating my website, school, my music, anything I do.
    I wrote an essay for my copywrite class last semester, we read them outloud to our class on the third class day, we were basically to write something that "sells" us and what we have to offer, more or less like an advertisement.
    People read their basic "My name is... I work..... I was born in.... I've always been creative...
    Then it got to me, I stood up and read something from my heart, something that described me better than I thought I ever could. it is below:
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    If you sometime closed your eyes for even a second, there’s no telling what you might miss. Just the
    same, when they’re open, you truly have to see what is around you, where you’re going and what is
    changing. There’s much in the world that is changing, and the days we have left behind are the simplest
    we’ll ever know.
    I’m sitting in a restaurant now, looking out a window at a sky and a day that looks like any
    other. Some people, including myself, see it this way. Yet beneath the facade of trees, air and our built
    world, there are many things going on. What is going on? Change. That is what is going on, every
    second of every day. Again, some people see it, and some do not. For those that do, it hopefully plays
    a role in defining them. It certainly does with me.
    About a year ago, I got my first computer. Now, a year later, I know more about it than I
    could have imagined. In a world that is now dominated by computers and technology, a person is left
    behind if they are not familiar with many new things. If something is new and better, I want to learn
    about it and use it. A year ago, my use of the Internet consisted of getting information about bands and
    reading news. Today, I am designing websites, meeting people around the world, keeping up with
    current events and learning about new technologies. For school, the graphic and Internet skills I have
    are proving to be invaluable, and they will continue to be in the future. Yet amongst all these interests,
    there is just a small part of me.
    Perhaps the focus I have is that of realization. The world could be going on day by day, and
    everything could be changing as it is. But recognizing the reality of it all is what I find to be my greatest
    attribute. I plan to carry this into all that I do and hopefully accomplish in my life. At the same time as I
    try to change with the world, I try to realize the value of every day we have. That alone holds great
    importance with me.
    Through hardship or joy, struggles or successes, I have learned the value of people, and
    interaction with them. We all learn something from each other, and we are all in this changing world.
    Yet, I need not quote Charles Darwin’s theory that only the fittest will survive in order to relate to our
    innate desire to be better than everyone else at something. Don’t you want to be? I certainly do, and I
    am doing all I can to get there. Through my involvement or interest in music and songwriting, poetry,
    current events or art and architecture, I am the person I make myself. Through my ambitions the world
    is what I make of it. You see, ambition is merely standing still-simply thinking you may put that foot
    forward. The first step you take is to learn all you can, then use all you have learned. And the footsteps
    I take will never stop, because in this changing world I can never slow down, never close my eyes for a
    second. Just the same, if you close your eyes, you might miss me.
    -----------------------------------------------------------

    When I finished reading that, some voices in the classroom just went "wow" I think some people did not even know what to say. Right there in that moment I left an impression on them as to who I am. That was probably one of the best moments of my entire spring semester. (I also had big shoes to fill as well! hehe)
    People don't just come out that often and say who they and what their life is about. I have no problem telling people any of this, it's not bragging or being conceited, rather,it's who I am.

    So, to close this up, I'm sure you can see how I could easily get frustrated by my ideas being thrown out the door.
    When you walk around and all you think about is ideas and how you could create this or that or make something look better, it's a pretty big let down when you can't connect with someone and let them inside your mind, show them your ideas.

    But one thing you all agree on here, that I agree with as well: The client or person making the decision will usually intervene and screw something up. For those of us who have a vision, I can't see situations like that every being easy to deal with.

    Well, that's a little more of me...

    mg33
    [Edited by mg33 on 09-06-2000 at 03:05 AM]

  7. #7
    LoungeLizard
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    Here is a couple of rules to follow:

    1. Never deliver ahead of schedule.
    The more time you give the client, the bigger the odds that he/she will want to make changes.

    2. Be protective of your babies.
    If you design you must firmly back it up. Tell the client that he is ruining your work with his changes.
    When designing there must be a clear idea of what it´s trying to communicate and if the client keeps interfering it is ok to be pissed off and tell him to leave it to the pros. (well not quite, but there are instances when one has to become almost agressive)

    3. My fave: Intentional goofups.
    Clients like to make changes even if there´s no need. Everyone who´s been in the business knows this.
    There´s a easy way to steer clear of this annoying habit,
    insert some blatant mistake in your project. When showing it to the client they will instantly focus their "change radar" on the goofup. You fix it quickly and show them also how talented and efficient you are by fixing it on the fly.

    Maybe these pointers don´t help you too much right now, mg. My only viable advice is to stand your ground.
    If you mean to keep working with these people you must make a stand.

  8. #8
    Former Employee of Satan Napalm's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Harra
    2. Be protective of your babies.
    If you design you must firmly back it up. Tell the client that he is ruining your work with his changes.
    When designing there must be a clear idea of what it´s trying to communicate and if the client keeps interfering it is ok to be pissed off and tell him to leave it to the pros. (well not quite, but there are instances when one has to become almost agressive)
    It's is very tempting to tell a client "What the hell are you thinking?" but unfortunately we can't.

    Your jobs as a designer is to convince the client that this or that won't work but they can get very hardheaded.

  9. #9
    LoungeLizard
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    What I mean is that you have the right to say back off.
    If I feel I cannot communicate with a client I simply say goodbye. Yes, the client is paying for my services but money isn´t the important thing.
    You want to do a good job and if the client doesn´t understand the whys and hows of a design and continually demands illogical or misplaced alterations despite ones efforts to explain why those are a bad idea, just walk away.

    There is nothing wrong with standing by ones craftmanships pride.

  10. #10
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    I think we can all relate.

    I had one client come to me to design a site. (HTML only) and he had drafts on paper as to what he wanted. The layout wasn't bad, simplistic but not bad. But he then showed me what he wanted to use for his background. (My mind instantly went EEEEEEEKKK RUNNN!!!) It was dark with bright highlights in it, making any text on it look extremely bad on either the light or dark splotches. I tried convincing him of this and there was no moving him. I ended up getting around it somwhat by framing all my text in framed boxes which laid over the background (nice solid color background within the windows) but it's still a project I will not put in my portfolio.

    And here's the best part of all. That guy left the company and his replacement came to me and started hinting at his dislike of the site. I explained to him my initial objections to the project as given to me and he agreed on all of them, and finished with something to the effect..."Our web site's design sucks"

    He's speaking with a comitee to try and get some funding to have it redesigned. (I am very tempted to do it for free, but I have some other projects on the go which could generate some money and can't spare the time on give aways.)

    In hindsight, this is how I would have handled it. (And a way you might be able to do the same)

    If you dont like the suggestions being given to you, make up a mock up of their suggested changes, convince them to get a focus group to come in and look at both and to comment. (Your focus group should be the target market they are after, not executives, or designers.) If you have a group of people saying they like yours best, then you can certainly use this as leverage to keep your design as is.

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by Harra

    3. My fave: Intentional goofups.
    Clients like to make changes even if there´s no need. Everyone who´s been in the business knows this.
    There´s a easy way to steer clear of this annoying habit,
    insert some blatant mistake in your project. When showing it to the client they will instantly focus their "change radar" on the goofup. You fix it quickly and show them also how talented and efficient you are by fixing it on the fly.
    Heheh - this is an excellent idea - the "velcro dog" that will draw the client's attention and you can simply tear off of the design.

    But be careful! Never put anything in like that that you can't live with. You'd be surprised how many times the client will CHOOSE your "velcro dog" design - or that "mistake" will be the one thing they REALLY love about the design and have to keep.

    If it helps at all, mg, it's pretty much the same everywhere. Clients will rework your design until you barely recognize it - and you can only protest so much because, after all, they're the client. They will almost always pick the design you like least, and insist on adding things that will seriously mess with whatever layout you come up with.

    Here's a question for everyone: have you ever worked in a situation where this WASN'T the norm? Except for the occasional really great client, have you ever consistently been in an environment where the clients completely respected your opinions and gave you a free rein with project design & structure? I need to know if such a world exists... *sigh*

    aahlookout!

  12. #12
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    I hasten to say, but I think it is a simple as this:

    2 categories of life-

    1. Personal projects/art/music etc. -
    For youtself or for someone you care for - 100% emotional connection and commitment, 100% work ethic.

    2. Commerical projects/art/music etc. -
    For "work", to pay "rent". 0% emotional connection, 80-90% work ethic (100% if you are starving).

    I've had music and art torn to pieces and reassembled as "better" for over 10 years now, and learned to hold the above "credo" as the sumpreme law. And I learned the hard way.

    The only hard part ids the Flash is so creative to begin with, so most of us have the 100%emotional connection regardless of the client. BUT DONT.

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by aahlookout
    Here's a question for everyone: have you ever worked in a situation where this WASN'T the norm? Except for the occasional really great client, have you ever consistently been in an environment where the clients completely respected your opinions and gave you a free rein with project design & structure? I need to know if such a world exists... *sigh*

    aahlookout!
    Yes, my first HTML project. It was for my inlaws. But the key was, and is, if you're looking for such a client, you have to find someone who

    1- Knows you
    2- Thinks you are very talented / artistic
    3- Considers himself not to be.

    Get that combination and your set. The 3rd is obviously the key and hard for some people to admit, even to themselves.

    I actually have another client who I'm working on getting (Friend of mine who says he going to get me to design his site once he finds gets a few other things in place) who actually fits in this category as well. I can't wait to work on his site. I've got plenty of ideas and I know he'll let me play....


  14. #14
    FK Catwoman Aria's Avatar
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    Hi ya

    I know what you mean... I know you feel disappointed and demoralised right now, but believe me we've all been there. And as a matter of fact I'm going to have to go through it again tom afternoon. I've got to present a screen saver as part of bi-media campaign for a films season. I am not looking forward to it I am not as experienced as my line manager -he's an amazing creative director- who has developed this skill: not taking things personally, and compromising to a certain degree. The ppl who commission your work, unfortunately have the final say, and some of them are not very subtle, when expressing themselves.

    My next project was given to me yesterday, by a channel manager who wants me to do a screensaver and a Flashintro for the Rugby World cup. My objective is to make it attractive to female viewers (huh??) and get more women to watch really.... now that is a challenge

    I mean I like rugby but I can't watch much...when I see that poor guy running with the ball and everybody else running after him to lynch him .... I just close my eyes

    You 'll find that criticism comes with job... and I try to think that I can use that to improve myself and get even more high-profile projects to work on. If that means sitting there with a commissioner trying to persuade them that your design actually compliments and enhances their brand (I use these words a lot) so be it. We have to sell ourselves and justify our creative decisions to those who pays us to take them.

    Go back and talk to them , see if you can show your design to other ppl and get thei feedback and comments. Show them examples of other sites of say, competitors and tell them or at leat make them think.... You never know

    A

    A

  15. #15
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    Unfortunately I'm almost in the same situation. I've been working as a graphics consultant for a software company that's growing at a rate they don't seem able to handle. They're now at 2K employees, with no creative department. Worse yet, after looking around their intranet, they have no graphics people at all!

    Working for them freelance has had its ups and downs. Luckily I'm contracted with the IT department, so most of the time I'm greeted by intelligent people that understand the limitations of what can and cannot be done. They also have a great sense of humour, and usually give me enough direction to get a project done right the first time.

    Everything was swell, until the idiots in the marketing department decided to get involved. They're so wrapped up with their branding guidelines that they're not taking the time to look at anything else. A few months ago I was asked to create some logos and a CDrom for one of their key intranet features. I was given the tagline, and a broad idea of what the product does and why it was being featured. I spent a full week (aprox 50 hours) working on preliminary ideas, and presented them the next week. They loved each and every of the 20 logos I showed them, and sent them to the project lead to decide which would be used.

    Then all hell broke loose. The project lead couldn't decide which one he liked, so he asked the VP of marketing to give him a hand. She took one look at it, handed it back to the project lead, and said that the tagline was wrong, didn't make any sense, and that all of the logos were too closely tied to that tagline to be used. They carried on the discussion for a while, then sat down with the logos to see if they couldn't be used for other things around the office. She wouldn't accept a single one because I hadn't followed her branding guidelines. Although I had used the same fonts and had never altered their original logo in anyway, all of my ideas and work were thrown out, and I was asked to start all over again.

    After I was given a new tagline, and this whole process sans marketing people was replayed, the entire project was abandoned.

    As frustrating as it was at the time, a few good things came out of it. First off, I got paid $5K for logos that were never used. More importantly, however, the people in IT were just as frustrated with the chick in marketing as I was. So when I expressed interest in actually working at the company, the execs in the IT department pulled some strings and got it approved to hire me for them, and not marketing.

    Every once in a while you're going to have people that find it necessary to mess with your vision. It will make you angry, make you question them and sometimes even yourself. But hell, if you get paid for it, take the money and run. Save your ideas for future use... you never know when someone may want them down the road.

    Since it's still really bothering you that they did this, I don't think it would hurt to voice your opinion on it. Let them know that you'll make the changes, but that you feel your idea was better and more appropriate. Compare/contrast the two ideas on paper, and let your voice be heard. Ask for feedback from impartial parties. Do it as clinically and as detached as possible to let your employers know that you feel strongly about your opinion, but that you aren't taking it personally (even though you are, and should). This way you'll let them know you disagree in a constructive manner, and you won't have to bottle it up to yourself.

    And if all else fails, I'll send you those boots.

  16. #16
    Diaper Changer

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    Smile A SUSGESTION

    Hey guys...

    Couldn't we all just PROTEST ALL OVER THE WORLD eh. Let these Internet startups know that they are frustrating and annoying little bastards and we are getting very frustrated with the shish they come up with at times.

    Yeah we got the talent... yeah they got the money.... but for me it's really for the love of my art and sharing it with you for a money which you infact owe me. But give me some slack eh.

    So... what you all say eh... we protest or not??? Lets say at the next web design expo eh............ ignore me guys I'm just kiddin'. But we do need to let the clients know that it is frustrating to have to be changing all the time after we deliver exactly what they 1st ask for eh.

    P P P P PEACE !!!

    [Edited by BaByHugH on 09-06-2000 at 03:02 PM]

  17. #17
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    Guess I'm just a greedy little bugger... I don't care if I make someone the ugliest thing on the planet as long as they're happy and pay me for it. Besides, more money means less time working and more free time to develop my own ideas.

    And I'll join up for that protest if someone wants to spring for an open bar.
    [Edited by toastee on 09-06-2000 at 03:57 PM]

  18. #18
    Diaper Changer

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    Originally posted by toastee
    Guess I'm just a greedy little bugger... I don't care if I make someone the ugliest thing on the planet as long as they're happy and pay me for it.
    Babes... that's mean That comment truely disappoints me. What about the upcoming flashers here... that's not good advice

    Come on.... please

    P P P P PEACE !!!

  19. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Posts
    34
    Well, true, it's not good advice. Nor is it very reasonable for those with better integrity, like yourself. I love Flash and I love my job... I wouldn't trade it for the world. But I also have to look at things from the business angle. I value my clients and I'll do anything to make them happy with the work I give them. Sometimes this means altering my ideas to suit their tastes. I won't lie... a lot of the times I think they're completely wrong, and most of the time I'm very annoyed at having to make changes. In the long run, though, I care more about repeat business than my personal opinions. For anyone new to the Flash world, BaByHugH's got an extremely valid point. If it were a perfect world for me, I'd never make anything I thought was second-rate. Alas, it isn't... so I'm making the best of it.

  20. #20
    This is probably a stupid question, but what is an Internet Startup? Slap me around if it's a dumb question.

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