My value as a graphic designer might be one of the most consistent topics that seems to come up fairly regularly. How much do I charge for a specific project or design compared to the perceived value the client is getting? Sometimes what looks like an easy job to the client, is far from easy for the designer. How do you accurately explain how much time and work actually goes into designing something that "looks like it only took an hour?"
From laying out all the content, finding and altering a great font for a logo to locating the perfect stock photography, it's all time consuming and contributes to your end product. Editing or cropping out the background in a photo in order to place it on a different background, also no easy task. Kearning, spacing, special effects...I could honestly go on and on about what goes on behind the scenes. Sure, it might look effortless once it's all said and done but it's really the exact opposite.
I found the following article to help my case...
After spending some years in graphic design industry, a couple of questions bewildered me the most… How much a graphic designer should be paid? On what criteria should he be paid? Although I confess that I joined the design field for the sheer pleasure and obsession, a person has to make ends meet as well. Right from my first project, I have continuously pondered on the subject of wages and value for graphic designers. I have heard numerous common statements which clients say to graphic designers in my career. Outlined below are a few of those statements and my thoughts on each...
1) Size doesn’t matter:
I completely agree that a graphic designer’s worth increases with the level of experience and expertise. But many clients come up and assert that since it is just a little project it should cost way less. This is where the misconception lies. For graphic designers, no project is big or small. They confer equal and utmost importance to each of their projects irrespective of their magnitude. Clients, while selecting a graphic designer want the best work done in the lowest price possible.
2) Simple but creative concept:
Sometimes a design concept may appear simple, but it takes enormous creativity on the part of designers to come up with the concepts. A client views the design work as simple and easy and argues that it should cost less. Taking the Nike swoosh case, although the concepts seems simple but its creative aspect cannot be measured in monetary terms. The concept that turned out to be one of the leading brands in the world was a simple yet extremely creative one. This demonstrates the weight of creativity while determining designers’ earnings.
3) Design work with less graphic details:
Many clients come up to the graphic designers and claim that since their design work contains less graphical images, it should not cost more. What they tend to forget is that it is not only the colors and graphics that is appealing, it is the ingenuity in the work that holds the value. An excellent case in point is the FedEx logo design, which is regarded as one of the most creative logo designs in the world. While there is no such graphical details in its logo design, the marvelous concept of using negative spacing to create an arrow between the “E” and “x” is what is worth the money. Not to mention, add up the time spent sketching and brainstorming, as well as the trial and error that went into choosing and creating this final design.
4) Time is money:
Moving towards the major concern, I believe that graphic designers (freelance or permanent) should be paid based on the amount of time involved in their projects. After all, time is money. Regardless of the complexity of the design project, it involves considerable time on every assignment. Clients who want to pay less on the pretext that the project is small are risking the quality of work. When a designer will be paid less, he will not want to waste a large amount of his time on the project.