Above is a copy of the poster I was commissioned to created by Katherine Sonntag, prior to her return to New Zealand. This was the third poster I had drafted for her for distribution throughout the West of Scotland division of the Salvation Army.
All three posters have attribution to me and all were done "pro bono" as a means to help a sister out and gain Photoshop experience (please remember I'm a business analyst by training, not a graphic designer).
I took the main picture (its Alex Ramsay's Cornet) and received the picture of the Irish Youth Band from Katherine.
The poster had journeyed through various drafts and approvals from certain members of staff within the Divisional Headquarters (DHQ) prior to its finalisation. Above is what I considered to be a final copy.
That is until Olly sent me through the above picture. You should be able to see the fact that my attribution has been defaced with black marker pen.
Upon hearing this, I immediately contacted the person responsible for approving the poster in DHQ to understand if this was something they were familiar with... so I could eliminate whether it was an action sanction by them or it was vandalism within the Corps.
I received the following response:
"Yes I took the decision because as far as I am aware Chris asked you to do it. We never send material out with the persons credit on it we usually do our own."The response then goes on to ask whether or not I wish the poster to be removed.
The Chris in question is my dear friend Chris Shanks who leads the West of Scotland Youth Band. Whilst Chris had been involved in the design, it was Katherine who had commissioned the work. Not once was I informed by anyone that attributing design credit was an issue. This includes the number of redrafts the poster went through.
I then responded as follows:
"Yes, I am offended by your actions.
Before I continue, please let me explain the context, as I see it:
First off, the poster was created for Katherine Sonntag and Chris Shanks, which by inference, means it was created for DHQ.
Secondly, you have been party to at least one, if not more, reviews of the poster and have had, at these points, the opportunity to state DHQ's policy of not attributing credit for work undertaken. You did not use any of these opportunities to approach me & request the removal of my name.
Now, my offence comes not because of the fact you have erased my attribution to the work I have undertaken for you (for free, may I add?) but the manner in which you removed my name.
Your approach can be best described as cowardly & Machiavellian. You were given opportunity to request my name to be removed and didn't take it, resorting instead to defacing my work by blanking out my name with black marker pen.
Did I not, at the very least, deserve notification of this action so I wasn't faced with the shock of seeing it firsthand on the notice board at Bellshill? Instead, I faced the shock of seeing my work defaced in this manner, without explanation.
If I hadn't asked, I would have never known. This is a ridiculous situation to be in, especially from a Christian organisation.
The crazy thing is I would have probably acquiesced to your request... if you had asked me and explained your reasoning.
As for the poster, I would prefer you kept it in situ as I think destroying it would be a waste of resources and, as such, poor stewardship on the part of DHQ.
However, please be aware that I will not do any further pro bono work for you, nor will I volunteer for any divisional activities (I will honour my speaking engagement in March).
In addition, my membership of the Salvation Army in Bellshill is in question because I am struggling to serve an organisation that lacks transparency and even basic levels of accountability to the people it is meant to serve."
The reason I have published this is because I want to be completely transparent with all my family and friends... who have shown a level of support and encouragement that has far exceeded my wildest dreams. I want everyone to know the truth and I do not want any void that could be used to propagate gossip or half-truths.
Personally, I don't think it is too much to ask to be credited for work done. I never sought any other compensation. I didn't want to... my work was "for the public good" (pro bono publico) to help out a mate and to help out the organisation to which I identified with.
That said... my point is not that my name has been removed... I'm not that bigheaded to be offended by that. As I said in my response, if they had asked me to remove my credit, I would have probably acquiesced.
My point is the way it was done... with such unscrupulous cunning and lack of consideration for my feelings. This is what has offended me. Did they really think I am myopic enough not to notice their vandalism?
So far... the only response I have received is:
"I acknowledge receipt of your e mail and your comments."
I have made my point and, for me, the situation is settled. I would love an apology and to continue to contribute to the work of the Salvation Army in the West of Scotland... but this seems impossible now. If my poster is taken down and another one replaces it then be assured this wasn't by my request. I wouldn't waste resources like that.
For those of you who have followed my faith journey of late... will know I have not be happy nor settled in the Salvation Army for a while now. I am wondering if this is the final straw?
My sincere thanks to everyone who has supported me in the last day or so. I do not take your love and respect for granted... at all. Please be assured that I will not do anything rash and will seek God's guidance for my life.