Still, three valuable things came out of the experience. First, I learned -- or relearned -- the value of detailed, up-front communication. There's honor and ease in spelling out anything that involves investments of time.
Second, I learned that "pro bono" can, weirdly, empower people to treat you less well than if they're paying you. This is probably an unconscious thing on their part, but it argues for either charging for one's time or for, as my friend Ann recommended, creating an invoice with actual dollar amounts on it (so they know what you're worth), then writing "comped" at the bottom.
Third, I still kinda like the original design, seen above, for the invitation.
Late in the game, it became clear that the group couldn't do four-color. That changed not just the pizzazz of the image but also the effectiveness of the texturing that made the original design worth doing, IMHO.
Today I got a look at the invitation in the version that came back from the printer. It was ... distressing. Major ink tranfer as the pieces came off the press. (You can read ghost letters on top of the actual text.) And the images lost much in the shift from four-color to two-color. In a way, seeing the printed version was a perfect ending to a perfectly miserable experience.
If I sound like I'm blaming it all on the other folks involved, I say au contraire. The project was mine to manage from the start. By the way, it should go without saying that I've obscured the name of the organization and its members, but just in case you were wondering about the awkward empty blocks of nothing, that's where some type went.