Fifteen years ago when I was starting my career as a graphic designer I was hired part-time by a small design agency. By “small” I mean the owner, a senior designer and me. The salary was not high but I was happy because it was really close to where I lived and I was building a real portfolio, apart from what I made in design school.
One day, the owner asked me to make a logo for her husband’s company and she told me, really excited and proud, that I will receive my first commission for doing the logo. She offered to pay 10% of the logo selling price. At the time, we sold logos for $150, so I was expecting to get about $15 as commission. (Note: I don’t live in America; this is converted to US dollars).
I designed a logo, and both my boss and her husband liked it. Everyone was happy… until I got my commission.
She added $1.50 to my paycheque.
Me: Hey, I think you made a typo – you only paid me $1.50 for my commission.
Client: Oh no, that’s right.
Me: So you’re saying you sold my logo… for $15?
Client: Well, he is my husband. I gave him a discount!
She smiled like she was really teaching me something. And I guess she did: to always negotiate in advance and never trust a client.
Later I learned that the senior designer left when the owner pulled the same move, asking the designer to design a cookbook for “a friend.”