The Designer Check

Pay days are great days. Holding that check in your hand and waving it around as if you were freshening the room — you feel so much more alive and that much more motivated than the seconds before. You labored over those dancing pixels — harvesting ideas, character and art. You sacrificed time with your lover, time with another — time with yourself. You traveled to emotional places of splendor, and visual places of disaster. “Edit, undo” was your inner voice. “Love it” became your surrounding voice. Sleeping was rendered as a distant memory. Battles were won and battles were lost, with yourself and the client. That check isn’t just about Benjamin or Washington, it’s a culmination of a million moments — and that ever important moment of agreeing on that cost to get you there.

Like a broken record, I often hear painful tales of client-designer, designer-client “miscommunication on money.” Even tales of prima donna designers demanding funds regardless of miscommunication. “Sorry if you didn’t understand, there is nothing I can do.” 86 the drama, designers. From hourly rates, to completed project invoices — it’s a rough road to travel when communication isn’t clear. Money is emotional. Money is sensitive. It makes us sensitive. Should an error in cost communication arise — we can’t assume the client is after us trying to pinch you. And the client can’t assume we can work for free. Take a step back, reflect on the communication that was had, and work towards a solution that will work for the both of you. Compromise. In the end — services were rendered and they should be paid.

Negotiating those costs upfront is tough. Hourly? Per project? Budget? With so many variables circulating around a potential project — it is impertive to establish communication about costs. As designers, the strength of our visual communication is what decides beautiful, functional, goal serving success. Lack of it can roll in the dark fog of failure. No one wants to fail. Our work represents us, and communication needs to be clear, every single time. That communication of designing, should translate over to the business side of negotiation. Being honest, open, candid — and clear. Yes, I know — ew “I’m just a designer not a business person.” Oh but we are — like it or not. We freelance, we negotiate costs/ pricing, we collect and invoice — we are as much business people as we are designer people. We have to be as clear about costs upfront as we are in designing our visual communication — repeat business hungers for this. Clean lines in design — open lines in communication. If issues come up — compromises must be met. Lessons must be learned. Money will be made.

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