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Around The Sun: The Demanding Dutchman

Steve Harrison tells of a job he wished he had never undertaken.

So Malcolm suggesed I do some artwork for a Dutch guy who was struggling to keep his pasta restaurant above water. Why am I always such a smuck? I met the guy, instantly disliked him but reluctantly agreed to do his artwork. There is a saviour type person in me who thinks from time to time he can do someone a good deed and somehow change the world.

The guy wanted an old advert adapted into a new logo. When it comes to logos I am the man. I love immersing myself in the creative solitude of making an image that will stick in people's minds. The Dutch guy told me a story of being ripped off by his partner. He was losing money and wanted a new image for the restaurant that would preserve existing customers and win new ones.

He had a new name for the place, Belissimo. In exchange for my services he would allow me, my girlfriend Lan and a few friends to dine at the restaurant. Hey Im not a greedy man and a free feed for my friends and I sounded like a good deal at the time, I figured the job would take me a couple of hours, and his pasta was probably quite good.

Some clients in the creative game are great to work with and others are a pain in the backside. The Dutchman was the latter. I outlined the original concept to him then laboured over the refinements. What started out as possibly two hours of work stretched into days. He would arrive at inappropriate times and demand immediate attention. Could I make this tiny alteration. I dreaded him coming.

Eventually I told him I had spent more than 30 hours on the work, pointing out that my rate in Australia had been AUD$150 an hour, Eventually I finished the logo. I applied it to numerous different adverts for publications, business cards and a brochure. I burned all this information onto a CD. And still he was not satisfied. Id had enough. I told him that as far as I was concerned I had completed my side of the bargain. For further minor nuances he should talk to the printer to whom he took the CD,

Soon he was flashing his new business cards around town and his adverts were in the local magazines. I had an appetite for pasta. The trouble was the Dutchman's restaurant was always too full for us to go there. He came into the Temple bar fairly regular with his girlfriend, bragging about how well he was doing. Good for him.

Then the low season hit us. Phnom Penh isnt much of a tourist town. People stay for a couple of days then head north for the Angkor Wat temple complex. And they only do this for about four months in the year, so you have to make enough money in the short high season to last you through the long low season.

In the middle of the low season I decided to call in my debt. I rang the Dutchman and told him I would like to bring a few friends over for dinner. I was easy on him. Only six of us turned up. He was shocked. "I nevefr said six people,'' he protested.

"Listen buddy,'' I told him "feeding six of us would normally cover about two hours of my time, even in the most expensive pasta restarant on the planet.''

He served us pasta, cheap white wine and a small dessert. All the while he was gritting his teeth.

Later on he ran out of money and had to sell the business, I think he got peanuts for it.

This couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.


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