Everyone has at least one story like this. This is my story of how a dream job turned bad.
Back in 2005, I had become friends with Fabio, one of the proprietors of a new restaurant due to open on the top of Queen Anne hill. As a gesture of friendship, I asked him if he needed any design work for his new place, you know, a comprehensive branding/identity kit: signage, menus, business cards, stationery, environmental graphics... the works. I was delighted... a chance to design for an upscale restaurant... one of my dreams! Being generous and stupid, I agreed to do the work in trade for some dinners at his new joint, with the added stipulation that I would be allowed to work without heavy-handed design direction from him.
I designed the whole package in roughly a week (!), and fortunately, Fabio loved it; it even got the nod from Mamma Enza. It all came to me quickly, and I worked like a madman, securing quotes for printing, signage and new awnings, and even dusted off my Epson 2200 printer to print out beautiful custom tabloid-sized menus. I slaved over manually kerning the damned Zapf Renaissance swash characters in the menus, hand-drew the SORRENTINO wordmark, and detailed the logo and all the other elements: many, many menus: brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktails, wine lists, etc. I created shop drawings for the awning covering, signs, and lots of other stuff–it really was all very beautiful. I was so happy!
That is until Fabio’s fiance started asking me to revise the menu once, and then again. And again. Then again... and once more. At first I obliged, but then requests started to become demands, and the revisions kept coming. I tried to explain that I was working essentially for free, as a favor to my friend, Fabio, but she had no sympathy. I also attempted to explain that the time constraints (I was being asked to turn these pieces around the same day) were unreasonable. After some more abuse and even threats, I decided I had enough.
I could have been an asshole and taken everything and walked, but I gave them the parts to finish the job, wishing them the best of luck. Unfortunately, his girlfriend had no aesthetic sense, and so the menus ended up looking like crap, and their website today is atrocious. Could have been really, really great (in my humble opinion), but instead a lot of these things have a lack of cohesiveness and look amateurish. Worst of all, I lost contact with Fabio (who I really liked) because of this experience.
I know I could have done things differently, but I still (naively?) believe in doing things over a handshake between friends. Nowadays, when I walk past the restaurant and grin proudly upon seeing my work, I bemoan the fact that it could have been so much sweeter of an experience.