How a Capilano University student was conned out of her work and respect
Justin Scott // Managing Editor
While it’s true that most graphic designers and artists are very creative people, there is a common misconception that their work often requires no effort and comes to them with ease. Unfortunately, due to this belief, freelance creatives are often underappreciated for their hard work.
Atrin Yazdani-Biuki is a student in Capilano University’s IDEA program, and has first-hand experience with these attitudes, and in her case, it has led to an outright robbery.
Before she began her time at CapU, Yazdani-Biuki studied Graphic Design at BCIT. Upon completion of her six-month program at BCIT in August 2016, she met a local real estate agent EM (Yazdani-Biuki requested he remain anonymous), who was looking for someone to design his logo. “I met him through my mom,” she explained. “He said he was looking for someone to make him a logo for his real estate company.”
The artist said that while she learned a great deal about graphic design during her time at BCIT, the instructors there never discussed how to handle freelance clients and contracts with the students. “I had learned a lot at BCIT, however I hadn’t been given any advice as to how I could deal with freelance assignments,” she said.
EM requested a logo that featured an M and a crown. Eventually Yazdani-Biuki created a logo that met his requests and contained a hidden house in it. “I wanted to be a bit more creative,” she said. After this, EM then asked for another logo featuring just his initials for a business card, which she then created. Having kept track of the time, Yazdani-Biuki knows she spent 26 hours working on the projects.
That time included her research, brainstorming, sketching and eventually crafting the final versions on her computer – two options for each design, to be exact. Once the designs were complete and sent to EM, things took a turn for the worst.
“In the very end, he said that he absolutely loved the logos,” she recalled, “But, when I asked him for the payment he stepped back.” EM’s email responses began to take longer and Yazdani-Biuki began to worry. Soon, Yazdani-Biuki’s fears became a reality.
“If I knew it’d cost this, I would’ve most likely taken it to my professional branding company to do the job for the same rate. Anyway, I am forwarding it to my dad who’s handling all of it, but he needs a business invoice for tax purposes,” read EM’s next correspondence.
Not only was this a warning sign for Yazdani-Biuki, it also saddened the artist to see her work devalued. “I was hurt so badly over these words because this was like saying ‘since you’re not in a company you shouldn’t be paid like them or you are not professional enough to be paid the same rate,” she said.
Back at it, Yazdani-Biuki believes that EM’s request for a tax form was just his way of dragging out the process and trying to make her life more difficult, even though he didn’t intend on paying. However, she complied with his requests, and after some help from her father, sent EM his receipt. It didn’t matter.
“Just want to inform you that while in expectation of your email, I proceeded to reach out to professional branding companies for their services. My professional branding company that is also creating my website took on creating my logo for a better price and value. I’m very happy with the whole experience with them.”
This was the message Yazdani-Biuki feared, but had been expecting. Although she knew EM had another company designing his website, she was still skeptical about his story.
“It was weird,” she said. “I don’t know how to explain it. Something was telling me to not trust those words and check up on his website.” And that’s what she did. “I searched up his name at least once a week to see if his website had been launched and a month or so after of constant searching, my gut was right. My logo was up on his website and he had lied about having another logo made by the company he kept talking about.”
Even though she knew EM had stolen from her, Yazdani-Biuki explained that after consulting with her family, they agreed it was best not to pursue the situation any further. Additionally, as much as having her work taken like that stung, she did get some solace from seeing her work being used. “My family did say that because I have the original files, all emails, and documents it could be possible to sue him if I wanted to,” she said, adding, “I’ve left the matter for now.”
For Yazdani-Biuki, the now is going very well. She’s in her second year of the IDEA program and is enjoying it immensely. Additionally, she mentioned that in her first year of the program, IDEA instructors went over freelance work with their students and gave them advice on how to handle the situations, to avoid anyone else going through what Yazdani-Biuki did. Nonetheless, she said there have been other students in the program who have similar experiences.
In the end however, it was a learning experience for her, ensuring that she won’t encounter issues like this in the future. She hopes to spread awareness through her story, so that fellow artists will not have to endure the same distress that she was put through.