Designer's: Stick to your price guns

Last week I came across this blog post by artist Gary Taxali on his frustration of recent trends in the industry that requests work that pay little or nothing. It must of stuck with me because over the weekend I got into negotiations with a potential client over some logo and branding work. I stuck to my guns and maintained my price. In the end they backed out because it was too much money for them. Granted they were a small company, but I believe my rate was reasonable, competitive and my time would have been fairly covered. I am a one man studio with little to no overhead, I have a day job as a designer so I'm not dying for a check. I also have a family and freelance work that takes up my evenings, takes away from my kids and spouse and other side projects which I care about has to be worth it to me. I love making art and designing and on a certain level I would do it for free because of that. But more often than not I get requests from people to do work for little or nothing. This speaks very clearly that most people don't think graphic art has any value. People want it because it makes them look good, but have a hard time seeing how quality work translates into dollars and cents for them. Never mind the fact that many people think design or art making in general is magic and takes no time at all. I appreciated Taxali's post as it reminded me that problems designer's face in getting paid and getting respected can happen at all levels of design. I don't have the caliber of clients Taxali has yet. I work in a relatively small city and am eager to get any professional work that adds to my portfolio. It's not easy to come by. But my experience and knowledge is worth something and to be taken seriously I think designers need to charge like they take themselves seriously. Of course I have some people I do work for on the cheap. I do work for a non-profit and a friends band because I believe in what they are about and I can contribute to their success. But if I'm not sure of what I'm about I can find myself doing more work for free than getting paid. The other side of the coin is the designers ability to teach their clients. We need to be able to explain to them the value of good design, solid typography and smart stationary. In my macro-world-view, this is more a cultural issue. Design writer Rick Poyner addresses visual literacy in this 2007 Print article titled "Standing Still". Most people don't understand the effect imagery and pictures has on themselves or others. Our society is highly visual, yet highly iliterate when it comes to the language of pictures. At the same time, people know a good logo when they see one, they just don't always know a bad logo when they see one. I've seriously considered putting together a "first meeting" discussion set of images. One that features well known, good and bad design work, not to judge or necessarily point out which is which, but to let the potential client see for themselves and use them to ask questions. Anyway, check out the Taxali statement. Read the Poyner article. I'm interested in feedback on this subject so please comment. Taxali link via IC & FFF