Saturday, March 14, 2009

Designer Stagflation

At a recent graphic design organization seminar about pricing I asked the question—“Why haven’t costs for graphic design changed over the last 15 years?”

It was a rhetorical question, it was open-ended, there were bound to be many different takes on the question’s implications. I was astounded at the answer the successful design studio proprietor provided. I just didn’t think it would come from one of us.

He said, “Starting up a business is so much less expensive now, you’re overhead is lower because of that and you don’t need as much stuff to get your work done.”

That is what clients have said to me when trying to bargain a lowering of a reasonable cost estimate. I was really astounded to hear this illogic spouted by a fellow designer, disappointed that they had bought into this line of reasoning. Almost like visiting a designer’s studio and seeing a time clock and steam powered break whistle in use.

So because you invest in a computer and printer and they help you work efficiently, you should lower your costs? Lawyers and accountants and the medical profession—they see it differently, it is increased productivity increased profit margin.

Position yourself in regards to the value you bring to the table. Your worth as a designer is more than the cost of your time alone. Knowing what your time is worth—that break even number—is simply good business sense. Now determine your value added, what you bring to a project and what that is worth.

Graphic design and illustration is a good value today and part of our mission is to educate people and clients about what we do for society and communication. We know it’s not all about making things look pretty. There is a larger purpose we serve.

Act like you are somebody and lead the way for other designer comrades. The next 15 years will see a rise in the respect and paychecks we deserve if we act united.


© Copyright 2009 Guy Arceneaux All rights reserved

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