As I know and consider myself friends (or at least friendly) with most of the individuals involved in this dispute, I do not wish to “take sides.” It is not my dispute. Neither, however, is it the dispute of the hyperjudgmental mob taking to the Internet to trash people they don’t know, imputing all manner of nefarious motives to them and feeling free to issue categorical opinions, all on the basis of a few Facebook posts.
Here, then, is my attempt to provide some of that sorely lacking perspective. But before I get to that, there are a couple disclosure-y things to note so that you, the reader, can properly judge what I have to say.
First, the brewery in question, which everyone who is reading this knows is Glasshouse Brewing on Ann Arbor’s west side, had a logo design already done for them long before any of this controversy erupted. I connected the owners of Glasshouse with the designer who did that original design. It’s here:
The owners liked this design well enough that they ordered logoed glassware. I can’t say why they decided to re-do a logo they already invested in, but it is worth noting that this is the case.
Second, I’ve been a full-time freelancer since 2009, so I’m coming at this with some experience of the challenges thereof. In fact, I once even performed a minor amount of work for Glasshouse, writing some copy for their old website. (Yes, they did pay me, and promptly.)
Right, then. Now for a few nuggets of perspective I wish more people would consider before jumping to conclusions – conclusions that can materially affect the livelihoods of folks they, again probably in most cases, have never met.
- There are always at least two sides to every story. Life teaches you the truth of this, over and over again. Too many people are willing to form snap judgments without so much as even attempting to hear another account of a given event or issue. I’ve been guilty of this over the years, as has pretty much every other human, as well. This is a plea to the angry mob to slow down and temper the emotional with the thoughtful. Usually your view of something changes once you observe it from more than one angle. Do I know all the facts about what’s going on here? No. Neither does anyone who wasn’t directly involved.
- This isn’t David vs. Goliath. I’m fairly certain Glasshouse isn’t run by a conglomerate of evil, cackling misers looking to take advantage of the naïve and inexperienced in order to further expand the vast piles of cash they roll around naked in every night. A more realistic view takes into account the understanding that the family who own Glasshouse have successfully operated another, well respected small business in Ann Arbor for decades. Presumably this means they are acquainted with the importance of reputation, professionalism, and fair dealing in business. (If they weren’t, they simply would not be in business.) Glasshouse is an entirely new venture whose success is not assured. It doesn’t make sense that the owners would jeopardize their standing in the community because they wanted some “free” design and web work. Maybe they just thought they would not be publicly called out for it? Perhaps, but again, is that the only explanation? Or even a likely one?
- Reputation is important to any business professional. Being “a creative” (not a term I like) myself, I take care to handle my business in such a way as to generate positive word of mouth. I would not recommend to anyone taking dirty laundry public in any but the most extreme of cases. The risk is making a name for yourself that sees potential clients pass you over for someone else they view as less “difficult.” Yes, many of us know people in creative fields who have had clients attempting to pass off “exposure” as a form of payment. But in my experience, this is the exception and not the rule. Just because some “creatives” have at times gotten shortchanged by some clients doesn’t mean every dispute is of this nature. The view of “good creative” vs. “bad client” is as apt to be a lazy template as it is to be a considered opinion.
Maybe it’s just because as a young man I admired Henry Fonda’s characters in both 12 Angry Men and The Ox-Bow Incident that a profound mistrust of and distaste for mob justice remains an unalterable trait of mine. People of course can and will do as they wish, but I invite everyone tempted to weigh in on this to at least slow their rush to judgment in a disagreement that is neither their own nor one in which they are aware of the entire circumstances.