Friendly neighborhood designer

“Oh, you’re a designer? I need a logo done!”

If i had a buck for every time I heard that, I would have business! However this sentence translates into, I just met you — do free work for me. Today I will share my experience and thoughts about free work and doing work in return of exposure. “Do it for the exposure” — This is another favorite line of mine. Would you, for instance ask a plummer to fix your houses pluming in return for exposure. You will let him take beautiful pictures of his work and he can blog and brag about it! They would laugh at first and when they find out you are being serious, they would give you, what I like to call: “The unimpressed tiger” look. “Really?”

The field which we decided to work in is not an easy one to thrive. It is a creative and in the same time business field as I expanded a little bit more in my previous article. On top of that, unlike many businesses and practices, people, potential customers are not in the slightest way shy in asking for our skills and work for free. This is why we see a tide rising against this corroding behavior. And one might think that this happens when you are starting off and are still a “nobody”. It doesn’t, this happens in all forms of design pitch. Recently I picked up a brilliant book called The Win Without Pitching Manifesto where author Blair Enns portraits this type of behavior in high places and it’s a pity. We, designers, as creators, value our work and most times treat it like our own child. This is why as stated in Blair’s book we live for the thrill of the reveal. I agree that we need to stop craving the rush of presentation and start acting like artisans of our craft. If our clients are used to getting free artwork/ designs/ sketches or even ideas, there is no wonder that they suggest thisas the first step and act surprised when you ask for a down payment. If we do not offer a product that people are willing to search for and wait for us to give them a price for it, we have lost and will always be treated as hobbyists. “Oh, do you know Photoshop” I can keep going with my favorite lines, however that is not the point of this article. The point I am trying to make is making people realize the time and energy we spend in creating these products and the depth most of us go to develop our skills. Once this has been made known, people will appreciate us for what we are.

I employ all my fellow designers, do not give your work out for free, negotiate, iterate, get paid in advance and fight until this becomes a standard practice rather than a taboo topic.

Thank you for reading and drop by again if you want to peak inside my brain!