The artist went viral on TikTok when she shared how she got a request from a client named Samantha to create a very particular custom sign.
By profession, Lexi Rhodes is an arts and crafts guru from Knoxville, Tennessee. However, she recently took it upon herself to also educate folks who approach her about the importance of getting vaccinated and her followers on TikTok can't get enough of her artistic approach to the matter. Rhodes—who creates and sells everything from pictures to doormats to witty signs through her business, The Sleepy Owl—went viral on the platform when she shared how she got a request from a client named Samantha to create a very particular custom sign.
In an email to Rhodes, Samantha explained that she wanted "one of those round door signs that says 'welcome unvaccinated and unafraid.'" The woman asked that the sign be maid "pretty" and told Rhodes that she needed it by Thanksgiving. While some might've just taken the order and their money, Rhodes was unwilling to support the anti-vax cause in any form. In response to Samantha's email, she wrote: "Assuming you are referring to the COVID vaccine, I cannot in good conscience make a sign promoting anti-vaccination. COVID vaccines have been thoroughly tested and proven effective and are entirely safe so there's nothing to be afraid of."
Despite Rhodes politely declining the order, Samantha didn't take too kindly to her response and hit back with a strongly worded email. "Um I didn't ask for your opinion, I just want you to do your job like I'm paying you for. Or you just can't do customs like you said and are just lying to your customers or what? Seriously, I just want the sign and I'm the one paying you and I'm a lion, not a sheep," it read. Speaking to Bored Panda about the rude client experience, Rhodes said: "My initial reaction to the potential client's request was, quite literally, an eye roll."
"I immediately knew I would not make the requested sign, so my next thoughts were related to determining how to best proceed in denying her request," she added. Since Samantha didn't seem able to take no for an answer, Lexi came up with a way to "maliciously comply" by designing a round door sign that actually said what Samantha wanted it to say... with a little addition of her own. Instead of "Welcome unvaccinated and unafraid," she designed the sign to read: "Welcome, we are unvaccinated and unafraid* and *and uneducated."
"I have been very vocal in regards to the hope that the COVID vaccines bring us to help end this global pandemic and my support of them. After all, I am a mother to a special-needs child (4 years old and not yet of age to be vaccinated) that relies on in-person services and I have personally experienced loss from this deadly virus, as not long before I received Samantha's request, my grandmother died from COVID" Rhodes explained. "I had been mostly silent within my business on my standpoint, but this request gave me the push I may have needed to make my stance known."
"I felt my initial response to her was direct and finite, so I was honestly surprised to hear back from her at all. Though this was the first request I had received to make a sign promoting anti-vaccination, this was not the first time that I have been treated poorly by a potential client. So, when she responded to my refusal in the manner in which she did, I felt I needed to be more clear in how I prefer to conduct business, which is simply making products that adhere to my ethical standards and working with clients that share a mutual respect for the process and everyone involved," she added.