Pay your graphic designers, folks… or suffer the consequences

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 9.32.49 PM

Earlier today, the website of a relatively new Ann Arbor brewery was taken down and replaced with the above message. And, since then, their Yelp reviews have gone into a tailspin. At last count, they had eight new one-star reviews, all calling for people to boycott the business on account of what one person called their “absolutely despicable and unacceptable” business practices. And, not just that, but, as a result of this, a former employee has just taken to Facebook to talk about her less than positive experiences with the owners. What started earlier today with a local graphic designer sharing that her client had told her, “You can keep calling, but we’re not paying you,” and asking what recourse she had, has now blown up into something that could very well sink business which just launched earlier this summer. Regardless of who’s wrong and who’s right in this, you have to appreciate the overwhelming power that social media now has over not just our local business ecosystems, but over our interpersonal relationships.

For what it’s worth, having seen a number of my graphic designer friends stiffed over the years, I’m inclined to believe the designer in this instance. For some reason, when it comes time to get paid, it seems as though the creative professionals always find themselves at the back of the line.

You can’t not pay your electric bill. You can’t not pay your produce supplier. You can’t not pay your attorney. But, chances are, you can not pay your graphic designer and get away with it… Well, until now, apparently.

This entry was posted in Ann Arbor, Local Business and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. M
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Why not name the brewery?

  2. Taco Farts
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    You’re not the nytimes mark (thank god). Give us a name so we don’t have to bother googling.

  3. wobblie
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    Glass House Brewing

  4. wobblie
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    from Face Book

    Jeannette Barnhart
    10 hrs · Dixboro, MI ·

    My daughter is a very talented graphic designer. She owns her own company. She created a beautiful logo and branding for #GlasshouseBrewing. With her creative talent and huge network of friends and fellow creatives, she made many followers for this company. They decided to not pay her. Apparently short on money as many businesses are when they start, they decided to just not pay. Never once a sorry, how about we make payments, just “nope” no money for your work. She has a ton of designers, creative people that she knows that are supporting her. So I hope I can ask my friends and coworkers to also help and support her by never stepping foot into #GlasshouseBrewery. They are liars, they are unethical, and they don’t deserve business. #getBrittanypaid #supportJustCuriousCo

  5. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I love even handed and neutral reflections on the power of the internet “regardless of who’s wrong and who’s right.”


  6. verifyfirst
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Not sure that taking down the brewery’s website was the smartest thing the designer could do…hard to imagine there won’t be legal action taken against her for that. Surprised too that the designer still had access to the website–is she also their site administrator?

    Not defending the brewery, I don’t drink in any event, and I do enjoy companies being held accountable for bad behavior, if such this was. It will be interesting to see how the company defends itself in the court of public opinion. To paraphrase a famous economist, “public opinion (markets) can remain irrational for longer than you can remain solvent”

  7. Bob
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I don’t know anything about this business, and I’m about sick of brew pubs. At least they didn’t elect Rick Snyder though. Never forget. #effthegreff

  8. Maria E Huffman
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    The rule of thumb on this type of work is to pay half up front of an agreed upon price for the work proposed and accepted, in writing, and then pay half upon completion of the work. That way both parties have a stake in getting it done.

  9. Kerri Pepperman
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Wow, what a stupid and underhanded move. Maybe we should go there, order stuff, and refuse to pay for it.

  10. Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    To Verify First, and all the folks who asked why I didn’t name the brewery…

    Last night, when I heard about this, I reached out to the designer in question and we exchanged quite a few texts. I was convinced, by the end of our conversation, that she was likely in the right on this, as she told me that she tried to reach a resolution with the business in question, and talked with an attorney about her rights. She was told that, since the site was in her name, and she hadn’t been paid, she could post the message above. As I didn’t reach out to the business owner, though, I didn’t feel comfortable posting the name of the brewery. That’s why I didn’t. I also didn’t name the designer, or the owners of the business, although I knew their names. I thought that was a responsible course of action… to report on the issue at hand without handing out torches and pitchforks, or creating an internet thread that could come back and haunt them for the rest of their days. This isn’t, of course, to say that I wouldn’t do so in the future. It depends on how things play out.

  11. Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Since posting this last night, the company’s Facebook page as literally exploded. Here are just a few examples of the one-star reviews that have been left over the past several hours.

    – I’m having a party next week, and would love if you supplied some beer. I can’t pay you for the beer, but you know, it will really put your work out there… for others to learn about. PM me if you’re available.

    – I’ve heard this is a decent brewhouse. Too bad for you artists and creatives talk to each other. Pay artists for their work.

    – Ethics and values are core ingredients as essential as hops and yeast.

    – So young and already joining the Unethical Small Business Club.

    – You’ve got a business that people really want to like. You’ve employed familiar faces from the community and benefited from that; beyond the professional skills that they offer they have brought in endless droves of friends and family. Glasshouse is off to a great start as far as I can tell from the whispers around town. But this little stunt is sure to erase a lot of that work. Everyone sympathises when a small business has a tight pocket book, no one sympathises when they refuse to pay an employee. Fix it. And fast.

    – One star is too many for this piss-poor establishment and their team. A word of advice – a solid brand design is more valuable than you understand. It’s an investment for the lifespan of your business (which hopefully won’t be long). The people that build brands, especially after agreeing to terms, deserve to be paid for that work. Grow up.

    – I was so excited to go to Glasshouse Brewing since it sounded like a great new business to check out. But then I found out that they didn’t pay their graphic designer who created their (gorgeous) brand. If you can’t or won’t pay somebody, don’t hire them. You can’t just hire bartenders and pay them in “exposure” or “experience”. That doesn’t pay the bills. Graphic designers and artists aren’t any different. You hire somebody to do a job, you pay them. That’s all there is to it. And in a community like Ann Arbor that supports local artists, stiffing your designer is gonna cost you a lot of business. I wouldn’t be surprised if this place has to close within the next year. Word spreads quickly.

    – If Glasshouse Brewery succeeds, it will be because the Ann Arbor community is enthusiastic, supportive, and loves to give young businesses a chance. Around here, we support, honor, and take care of each other. Please be a part of our great local culture by choosing to fairly compensate those who invest in your success.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    There’s hope for them. After all, the Corner Brewery survived their incident.

  13. Citywatch
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Methinks there is more to be discovered about this story.

  14. Art G.
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    As the subject of the Greffs has come up I thought I wanted to mention that they have their designs done on one the online platforms like Design 99 that people in the industry hate so much. It’s virtual slavery, and it’s why the Arbor brand is so weak and inconsistent. Maybe it’s something perculiar to brewery owners that they don’t value good design.

  15. JoeB
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Glass House Brewery…. how ironic. You know what they say about throwing stones…

  16. Posted August 27, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Verifyfirst said: “Not sure that taking down the brewery’s website was the smartest thing the designer could do…hard to imagine there won’t be legal action taken against her for that.”

    Except the work is her copyright until she gets paid. Yes, they made a mistake by allowing her to still have access, but she’s well within her rights to remove everything she’s done for the site if the contract is not fulfilled from the other end. Until paid, she OWNS all the work she did and they have no right to display it without her permission. The best part is the sign she left on the site is just a bit of extra work she let them have at no cost.

  17. Jcp2
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I just don’t think the problem is one of not valuing good design. I think it’s design, whether good or bad or mediocre.

  18. Kit
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    They now have 84 one star reviews on Facebook, bringing their average down to 1.5 stars.

  19. Joe M.
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    It was a very beautiful looking site. Unfortunately for that brewery, that was the best thing about it.

    Beer is just okay for the level expected in this region. Outdoor seating is cool, but the location kind of takes away from that. Small strip mall, small parking lot, weird spot really.

    Good on the designer, especially if she has ownership of the site.

  20. Bryant Stuckey
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Without having all the possible evidence in front of me, but knowing and appreciating what you do, I would side with the designer. I am saddened and somewhat afraid at the power of social media, though. It’s kind of lynchmob like.

  21. Meta
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Deadline Detroit called the owner.

    Glasshouse owner Steve Payeur of Ann Arbor insists: “I don’t owe her anything.”

    “She’s been paid very well for what she did,” he tells Deadline. “She’s been paid for everything she’s done.”

    …Payeur, who spent two years developing the business he runs with sons Brent and Brad, was interviewed Saturday by phone. Barnhart was hired last spring for 15 hours a week, he says, adding:

    “It was OK at first, but then she did stuff I didn’t ask her to do.

    I told her in July that there’s not enough money coming in to continue paying her and she went crazy.

    “She was holding our Facebook page hostage — changed the password, which we had to straighten out with Facebook.”

    Read more:

  22. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Two sides to a story? No way.

  23. Posted August 27, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the link to my post, “Meta.”

    Though we still can’t know who’s more believable, it seems prudent to pause in any rush to judgment . . . and to put down any torches and pitchforks, in Mark’s apt analogy.

    This “overwhelming power that social media now has” [ibid.] is no triffling thing, and both parties here are at risk in what may be a failure to specify scope of work clearly. I hope Brittany isn’t harmed professionally or financially, and do hope her signed contract upholds her claim.

    And although Steve Payeur clearly shares at least some blame for a fuzzy, mishandled engagement, he spoke of having invested $1 million in the business. His family and staff could be harmed by a lasting backlash and online threads that could haunt, as Mark notes.

    The two-day uprising on behalf of a young designer seemed heartening at first, but now I share Bryant Stuckey’s unease at the lynchmob-like aspects. Snap judgments and web-speed reactions aren’t always good.

    Also, client shaming and website blocking don’t seem like collection best practices,. I sure hope this 22-year-old professional hasn’t overreached.

  24. George Pariseau
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Although I don’t know both sides of the story, my experience has taught me these things happen as a result of a miscommunication and not some unethical business trying to get out of paying for contracted work. And I’m pretty sure it struck a chord with a lot of creative contractors who have scraped by trying to make a living with their very technical and creative skill-sets which are often undervalued by certain people, hence the “backlash”: no person can prevent that from happening.

    I think a win win would be for both parties to get together, resolve the dispute and release a joint public resolution. What would be better publicity than for both sides than to shake hands, move forward and the brewery resolves what is now a community dispute (in the court of public opinion)? I know it’s not as easy as that, but a lot of pride would need to be swallowed on both sides. Also, it looks like they’re having an event on Sept. 2nd. A resolution by then and concert based around that would be good publicity for band, brewery and artist.

    I can’t see how the brewery in question can resolve this without looking like they’re beating up on a 22 year old entrepeneur otherwise.

    But, rationality usually is never exercised in these matters, sadly.

  25. Dave
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    With all due respect, Mark, I’ve at times felt that you make yourself out to be more important in the scheme of local goings on than I personally think you are. Nothing I could quite put my finger really but it was just a feeling. Now I feel validated in that feeling. Why? Because you’ve stated above that Glasshouses’ Facebook page “exploded” since you posted this when a large majority of the negative reviews were posted throughout the day yesterday long before you posted this. None of this changes my feelings about the designer deserving to get paid and the brewpub needing to be put on blast, but stop patting yourself on the back for the viral nature of this situation. It existed long before you stepped in.

  26. Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    English is a complex and difficult language, Dave. What I said is that the story exploded “since” I posted what I posted. I did not say the story exploded “because” of my post. There’s a huge difference. One implies a direct connection, while the other just acknowledges the passage of time. And, for what it’s worth, the story did continue to grow after I posted, thanks in no part, by the way, to what I posted. (I didn’t link to any of the posts. I didn’t even name the involved parties.) But, please, by all means, keep looking for a reason to dislike me.

  27. Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    And thank you for the comment, George. I think you’re absolutely right.

  28. Dave
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    “Literally exploded”? Any injuries to report?

    I don’t dislike you by the way. I do think at the end of the day, you serve a solid purpose for our community. Good night.

  29. Skeptik
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    It’s worth mentioning that a quick perusal of the artist’s Facebook page leads one to this link – a blog post about a similarly messy communication issue with a client.
    Now I’m no graphic designer, and maybe this is par for the course. Maybe this is a frustratingly regular occurrence for all designers.
    But it caused me to take a moment of reflection, ditch the pitchfork and extinguish my torch.

  30. kjc
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 12:29 am | Permalink


  31. Scott Trudeau
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    George, I’ve actually been in the room when business owners decided not to pay an overdue bill to a subcontractor (and laughed about it); and I have numerous friends who are professional designers who constantly are asked to do free work for “exposure”; so there is a deep cultural under-valuing of design work. So while I acknowledge that this situation can arise from miscommunication, my own experience suggests it is entirely plausible that tge business decided not to honor the tearms of the contract because they value design so little that they think that if they ordered a beer & didn’t drink it, they don’t have to pay for it.

  32. Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    No doubt EOS will call for some law against artists trying to get paid along with the elimination of bus services and public schools.

    And then there will be some conspiracy theory about how Hillary Clinton engineered the whole thing. And cameras to watch black people.

  33. George Pariseau
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink


    I’m trying to make a call for diplomacy in a situation that could could end up very ugly and expensive for both sides.

    I’ve been an in-house creative, a freelancer and am running my own creative startup, so I completely empathize and have seen some of the worst behavior in people on both sides of the coin.

    I also have a 100% collection rate.

  34. Posted August 28, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Brittany’s essay at Medium last year, helpfully posted above by “Skeptik,” adds useful perspective.

    Though we can’t know how she tried to apply the 2015 lessons to this project, it indicates that she learned eye-opening stuff.

    “There are not bad clients, just uninformed ones,” her post says. “When we’re developing a relationship with someone, it’s important to explain how each step of the process is going to work.”

  35. Bob
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I have no idea who is telling the truth, but she’s definitely over the line. Even if she’s owed money, she had no business shutting down their website.

  36. Westside
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know Dave. I told three people about this. Over eight hundred people liked it. If they all told three people and they told three people. Do the math. It’s sad.

    I hope this never happens with a certain other wonderful local establishment on

  37. Emma
    Posted August 29, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I’m all about creatives gettin’ PAID. I’ve seen way too many friends get f***** over in the design and digital space. I’m a digital strategist and project manager myself, and have lost count of how many times people have come to me asking for free work.

    And yet….something here seems amiss. It sounds like she has been at least partially compensated. Maybe Glasshouse has been a bag of dicks to her. I don’t know about you, but there are better ways of holding your client’s feet to the fire than putting them so publicly on blast like this. I just hope they work it out because this is going to be no good for either party if it continues to fester.

  38. Lynne
    Posted August 29, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Well, all I know is that I won’t go to that place to buy beer if I can help it.

  39. Posted August 29, 2016 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, there’s this post at

    Never knew until now that there was a blog about Ann Arbor beer.

  40. Anonymous
    Posted August 30, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The owner speaks.

  41. Brian Little
    Posted August 30, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I think taking the website down is appropriate. My understanding is that the website was part of what she was not paid for. If they aren’t paying for a service it doesn’t make sense for her to continue to provide it.

  42. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 30, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink


    She did not just take the website down she took the glasshouse content down and in its place put a public anouncement that accuses the owners of a wrong deed.

    Two parties have a disagreement–not an uncommon occurrence. There are proper channels to pursue. Who made her judge and jury?

    Honestly, if it turns out that this was a an understandable miscommunication between two parties then I would love it if the brewery could sue her (not going to happen) and every one of her friend that put negative Facebook and yelp reviews, based not upon their personal interaction with the business, but based solely upon heresay and loyalty to a friend-who may or may not be a little bit nutty.

    Some thing to ponder: If, hypothetically speaking, the business owners actually do not owe her money, the prudent business decision would have been to just pay her off anyway–in the same way you might pay off criminal blackmail, extortion, or hostage taker . Either way, the prudent thing in terms of business is to just pay her off, right? Glasshouse seems to be refusing to act in their own best interest out of principle–think about that for a minute.

    Not in reference to you or the designer, Brian, but generally speaking, I am inclined to not pass judgment so fast in individual cases because I am afraid we have a generation of young people who, more than ever, seem to praise close-minded bratiness, who think self righteous crybabies are heroes, and who seem to, at an alarming rate raise individuals to sainthood whenever an individual excercises Stupid- power-without-regard-to-morals.

    I don’t know how this disagreement will shake out. Maybe she should have considered, I don’t know, some different process for resolving the dispute? I’m inclined to think what she and her friends was not very “cool”…I guess we will see….

  43. wobblie
    Posted August 30, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Business owners screw people out of money all the time. Was watching the Detroit news last night about a nice oriental couple in Novi. They operated a Chinese buffet. Their sentencing over the deaths of the six illegal immigrant slaves they had locked in their basement when there house burned down was being postponed.
    As a general rule of thumb, when one of my fellow wage slaves says the boss screwed me, I don’t doubt them for a moment.

    When the boss screws you, you only have a couple of choices. This gal chose direct action, and as they say direct action gets the goods. The money may not be as important as giving the cheats a good wacking. More power to her.

  44. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 30, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for exposing your prejudices against business owners, Wobblie. Now, for the sake of consistency you might want to incorporate those prejudices into this specific dispute between two business owners.

  45. Anonymous
    Posted August 30, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie, I don’t think we’re supposed to say oriental anymore. FYI.

  46. wobblie
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    I happen to be a business owner. Work at self-employment something like 80 hours a week. I would love to be a simple wage slave again. But businesses regularly discriminate against old folks (anyone over 50). True unemployment among people in my age group is almost as high as am0ng teenagers. (much of that unemployment is hidden in the rising disability numbers and the early retirements folks take–I’ll be “retiring” soon still will need to work, but I will no longer be counted as part of the labor market).

    What are we “supposed” to say instead of oriental if we don’t know the individuals nationality?

    We all have “gut” responses. My gut response says side with my Fellow Workers until some one shows me other wise. I’ve not seen anything that would persuade me other wise

  47. Jcp2
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    The nationality of most “oriental” people you’ll encounter in this country is probably American. If, however, you are referring to people that have dark brown to black hair, brown eyes, and brung up images of Bruce Lee, me love you long time girls, and Mickey Rooney as Audrey Hepburn’s neighbor, the generally accepted term now is Asian, or more specifically East Asian. The specificity is there so you can separate that group from South Asians, who are also orientals. But you might know about that confusion already, but I still recommend South Asian as opposed to a term you might be using like “paki”. I trust and hope that you’ve moved beyond Negro and colored people for other fellow Americans.

  48. wobblie
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    As Steve McQueen said in the Sand Pebbles, “never take another man’s rice bowl.” Jcp2 Asian it is then. They might be Chinese (ie. the buffet owners), but Chinese is an artificial construct of the state imposing the hegemony of one cultural ethnic group over another. There maybe more than a billion Han, but I am sure many of the minorities in China chaff under the name Chinese. I don’t know what a “paki” is. Pashtuns seem to predominate in Pakistan, (which I believe is south west Asian rather than South Asian) again it is a country with numerous ethnic, cultural minorities.
    I don’t think the ” Asians” who were keeping the slaves locked in their basement were American, I might be wrong and our xenophobic media wished to make a point of their ethnicity rather than nationality.

  49. Jcp2
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m just trying to help you be more specific. Oriental could refer to anybody from somewhere east of old Europe, including the Near East, Middle East, and the Far East. The corollary term is Occidental.

  50. Bob
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Egg rolls kick ass. No matter what you call em.q

  51. onmymind
    Posted September 21, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    So this article has been shared over 900 times to date. And the Glasshouse continues to get negative reviews and threatening messages sent to the owners from people who do not even live in Michigan , let alone Ann Arbor. I am glad they have taken this to their attorney and look forward to seeing Brittany Barnhart’s public apology for this on line smear campaign. There is no way she worked there for 5-6 months without getting paid. In her blog she even said she learned her lesson in 2015, to not do work without getting paid upfront so why would she be fool enough to do it again!? I believe since her boy friend worked there and she was there all day and night hanging out with him during construction, she did extra things outside of her contract and when the Glasshouse told her before the grand opening they could not afford her anymore she got upset and wanted to be paid for all the extra things she did. I also believe since she moved their website to her server she thought she would have a lifetime contract with them. Shame on her for telling people on the internet that she was not paid at all for her work. Someone here even said Brittany did the chalk board sign for free…. Take a look at that , Kind of messy if you ask me and nothing creative about doing a chalk board sign in a brew pub.
    Nice that she has all of her pages and sights set so no one can leave a review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative VG 3D