Pay The Creator

Pay The Creator

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Boxing Gloves
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”
Alexander Hamilton

Getting paid the fair amount is something that a lot of creatives have to stand up for and in some cases, fight for. Doug Cloud, a friendly designer who I had the pleasure of meeting back in early 2008   (& later interviewed) recently left this comment on the article Why logo design does not cost $5.00?:

I always get emails from people wanting design work from me either for free or next to nothing. This is quite an insult, since I am a professional designer. Personally I think a lot of people really don’t understand what a graphic designer does, because what we produce isn’t a tangible object you can hold in your hands (like say groceries or a new HDTV) and so it’s easy to assume that it doesn’t have much value or that it’s easy to do. My hope is that people will read Jacob’s article and come away with a better understanding of the designing process and the people who make such designs.

A few hours later Eagle Imagery replied:

Doug C. Next time you get one of those, send them this.

The moral? Pay the creator what they deserve.

Update 23/08/09:

The Vendor Client Relationship Video (Thanks to Billie for the link.)

33 thoughts on “Pay The Creator”

  1. Really great video and most certainly something I will use in the future. Bookmarking it right now.

    @Billie: Your video was also good but I think it’s more directed to people who are having this problem. Will a regular company understand the hint?

  2. “Media whore”! LOL. Hillarious! Very good point though, strongly made. Time is money, if it took time to make, then its worth money! Thanks for this post Jacob.

  3. Reminds me of the spec work term ‘design whore’. I was a design whore for a while. Sadly I didn’t make very much.

  4. “Tell that to someone who just fell off the turnip truck.” That is hilarious! Thanks for the pile of laughs. The sad thing is that it is so true.

  5. Laughed my butt off, it’s so true! I’ve been guilty of pleasing the client and I ended up working my ass off to finish it for next to nothing. I guess we all learn from our mistakes. Design and art as a career will always be looked at as a “fun” not “real” job. Ask all the people becoming lawyers and doctors if design is a realistic choice. Most would say no. That’s why I love what I do, it’s rebellious in a way:)

  6. Thanks for posting this. It’s surprising what we take from the client in an effort to make them “happy”, when really all we should be concerned about is making ourselves happy.

    What’s the point of having a “happy” client if we’re miserable ourselves? You get what you pay for. If you don’t pay much, you don’t get much.

  7. Billie,
    Thank you for the link, I updated the post with your link and the video.

    I suppose it is about finding the right balance, but a happy client usually means a happy vendor.

    That can also come down to being a perfectionist – even if the price is low, you just can’t let something go that is underpar. I think a lot of designers are like this.

    Thanks for the link to your article, you raise some valid points that reflect what these videos are really all about.

  8. I do it all the time… quote one price then spend 4 hours longer than I charged on something, making sure I’m at least 80% happy with it. Perfectionism (is that a word) is a difficult thing to live with as a designer, yet we all do it! How perfect we are! 🙂

  9. Nicolas,
    I do agree Nicolas which is why I chose my wording wisely – deciding to use the word “creatives” rather than “designer”.

    “Getting paid the fair amount is something that a lot of creatives have to stand up for and in some cases, fight for.”

    In regards to the demands, every industry has suffered losses through the internet, though they have also blossomed and improved in so many other ways!

  10. That’s the same problem all the time with artistic related professions, even my as animator I’ve been in situations like that, but if you are professional you know how much you worth and your work, so, the problem is more the newbies out there asking nothing for their work.
    Is ok to answer the client like he did.

  11. As one of the many morals that we have here: it’s not just the designer who loses. Many illustrators, photographers, cartoonists, etc., among other professionals go through the same. Even more so in a world that is constantly changing its economic model, when working remotely and create “nodes” in different parts of the world is relatively easy, the supply increases, demand decreases, the professional continuously degenerate its value. What do you think Jacob?

  12. I got one of these calls this week…
    Y’know, the “It’ll be a great piece for your portfolio.”, and “I’m a small start up, so I don’t have much money.”
    WTF! I’m a small business, and If they don’t pay me I’ll have no money! And I don’t need anymore portfolio pieces. I can do my own portfolio pieces…

    Why do people do this to creatives all the time?

  13. I’m still honestly thinking of putting a badge on my website to that article “Why logo design does not cost $5.00?”.

    There was a time – 7 years ago when I started out – when I would have easily accepted less than $5.00 (FREE) for work. The thing is, I got almost the same amount of “traffic” as i get now, but with more headache and worse an empty pocket. But alas there will always be whores…in every industry.

    I agree with Kevin about being happy, it is a two sided coin but as Richard Branson says, “Have fun and the money will come”.

  14. Another little thing occured to me on this topic.

    When I were a lad startin’ out in this game over 20 years ago, the normal way of getting a job with an ad agency after leaving college was to do a placement.

    What’s a placement? It’s when you do a fortnight’s work in an ad agency for free. You work on proper accounts, you put in the same time as everyone else and if they like your work they’ll offer you a job at the end of the two weeks.

    Or offer you another placement….

    I was one of the lucky ones, my book was good enough to land me a job pretty much straight away and relative to what other junior art directors were on at the time, I got paid a good wage.

    But horror stories abounded of people on placements for six months or more, winning awards, generating profit for the agency but still not landing that all-important first job.

    When the minimum wage was introduced in the UK ten to fifteen years ago, the agencies were up in arms: how can we afford to all the college leavers, they said. How can we keep our wonderful placement scheme going? It will be the end of the industry as we know it.

    Yup, £5.10 per hour really was an outrageous rate to pay a college graduate back then, it was so good of the agencies to finally come on board with the scheme….

  15. Tommy,
    Just the way it is Tommy, it’s all apart of the game.

    Please feel free. Doug Cloud has actually done it! Have fun 😉

    Mandy & Maria,
    See my comment to Kiren.

    The placements still happen here in Australia, but they only happen for short periods of time. Say 2-4 weeks. In fact, it’s compulsory for some students to do placement before graduation. Glad you got lucky!

  16. Great videos – very funny, but so true. As a designer you have a personal interested in getting the design right. Only when its right can you get that sense of satisfaction. I think because designers do a job they enjoy sometimes they are propelled to work for free or very little. This makes the designer as guilty as the client for devaluing the creative process.

  17. Hilarious! I’m wiping away the tears as I write this comment. Harlan is great, Scary, but great.
    His point is unfortunately all to familiar. Up until the middle of last year I was working in a stable job as a graphic designer getting paid a fairly decent wage. Recently, I perhaps foolishly (time will tell) decided to go at it alone, bring on the ridiculous hours and instabilities of self employment. I have been working for a lot of small businesses who expect the world for nothing! I’m probably one of those a*se holes he speaks of so fondly. I think maybe I need to perfect my Harlan Ellison angry face to get a decent pay packet.

  18. Aww does this strike a chord with most of us!

    First of all thanks for sharing this Jacob, and Harlan – wow! 🙂

    I’ll throw in one of my ‘sad’ stories here to add to the pool. I was asked to design a logo for a restaurant, and I worked my ass off to make the deadline. The client even got a low-res file transferred to his phone so he could show his ‘friends and colleagues’. Well well.. my mistake was that I never spoke about the charges up front cuz this guy was sort of a friend.
    So after two days he says, well the Pepsi guys are gonna give me a display board with our name for free so I was thinking I’ll go with it.
    Fuck! What about my design??
    Oh, I thought you do it as a HOBBY!

    Talk about learning it the hard way, but a lesson well learnt! The only thing that keeps me cool is that he dint use my design anywhere, it would’ve been one hell of a rip-off!

    PS: Nothing against Pepsi here.

    Good luck everyone!

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