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My client seemed happy with my final design for a set of labels for supplements.

Honestly, I felt a little rushed at the end of the final edits. We were trying to figure out how to portray the flavors for the products in the labels and it seemed that we had found a solution. I sent all the final art and the project was closed and paid for. A few weeks later I found out through the products pictures in their website that the client had sent the final arts to another designer to add and remove parts of the design, particularly the way the flavors were shown. This was a major project that ended up like this.

Is there any way I need to react to this situation from a legal or business perspective?

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  • It is plausible the product photos may have been done in advance of your designs being finalized. I have on two occasions hand-painted prototype products for photography and advance sales materials for distributors prior to the actual product being produced.
    – Yorik
    Mar 16, 2023 at 17:57

3 Answers 3

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You do nothing.

You were paid for your work. It's perfectly within the rights of the client to hire someone else. The only stipulation would be if artwork which you contractually retain the rights to was utilized outside the agreed upon usage.

I know discovering someone has adjusted something you've created can be troubling and sometimes upsetting. However, for client work, there's nothing which can really be done unless there's some legally binding agreement preventing revisions without your approval (which is exceptionally rare).

At most reaching out with a polite, cordial, inquisitive, email may alleviate some feelings....

"Hi! I noticed the product photographs on the web site don't display the final designs we agreed upon. I really like how the xxx was chosen for the flavors and I think the product shots look amazing. I was just curious if there was a reason you felt I wasn't the right person to assist in finalizing the labels?"

(Intentionally and honestly complimenting the new labels so as to avoid any connotation of animosity.)

That's about the most I'd do, without a contract breach.


There are really countless reasons such a thing may happen.. and many may have nothing to do with you or your work specifically....

  • It could have been a purely financial issue (no clue about rates or pricing, this is a wild guess).. the client found someone cheaper to adjust things rather than paying your rates while you went back and forth about how to display the flavors.
  • The client got some advise from someone well versed in product labeling (with an on-staff designer) about changes necessary. So they merely had that other designer implement changes.
  • A last minute spark of inspiration about displaying flavors hit the client and they had a friend capable of making adjustments since they had your files.

Point is.. it is rarely a personal "snub" unless there's been some on-going personality conflict with the client. It was most likely a pure business decision.


From a design business standpoint, this is why native application files typically incur additional costs and are never provided for free. The ease at which adjustments can be made, if the client has native application files, is a commodity which has value. With native files, changes may take mere minutes... without native files, changes may take hours.

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    Agree on the last paragraph: charge extra for source files and let it go.
    – Lucian
    Mar 14, 2023 at 11:51
  • I believe there's ample precedent for treating it as strictly business, not personal…
    – gidds
    Mar 14, 2023 at 19:56
  • Also keep in mind the "other designer" might've been an exec at the client or something like that.
    – WBT
    Mar 15, 2023 at 0:57
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    Even if this is legally and practically true, it’s still a disrespectful move on the client’s part. Although a designer may not hold copyright over their work, it’s still their work in that they’re the one who put time and effort into it. If the client wants to make changes, they should at the very least inform the original designer, and preferably also give them the opportunity to be the one to do it. A client that changed my artwork with not even a notice to me is not a client I would feel I could trust, or would wish to continue working with. Mar 15, 2023 at 12:34
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    Agreed @JanusBahsJacquet :) The "emotional toll" can be real. In my experience, it has a great deal to do with the type of client. The one-off or "quick project" clients don't tend to feel any loyalty toward a designer. Clients which are more established and you've worked with for some time tend to be more loyal overall. My clients may use other designers, but they tend to always come back to me for anything I've worked on previously.
    – Scott
    Mar 15, 2023 at 17:07
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You got paid, and your client got the work.

You can spend that payment on toys and candy, and your client can work with 10 other designers. Some of my clients work with other designers, too.

Accept things for what they are. Clients don't come back just because you think they should come back. You can't force them to come back; it’s their decision.

Find more clients and don't take it personally.

Don't rely on a single client.

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It really depends. Copyright isn't granted automatically but explicitly. The designer holds copyright usually. Depends on the design but if they just want your great designs then to go to someone cheaper to "do something like this" but less expensively than the original designer ... That is just shady and disrespectful. Chances are they'll get what they pay for in this case along with some bad karma. Maybe that 2nd designer who is being encouraged to copy someone's work will educate them on manners and copyright laws. Some clients give me their design edits then want to say they personally designed it. Really delusional people out there. Proceed with caution and make sure only the final files include the terms of copyright and you will be fine.

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  • In the US, copyright is granted automatically to the artists/designer unless something, in writing, states otherwise.
    – Scott
    Dec 8, 2023 at 11:15

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