March 23, 2007
Ah. Here is a nice Hydro Rant. Enjoy:
I’m beginning to be a firm believer that spec work is killing design and reducing the level of creative skill and production skill due to lower rates and taking advantage of designers alike.
When did the designer become lowest level of the business. When did we become production side of a multi-million dollar business. Granted, I am okay with certain aspects of it, since it is the nature of the beast, however when did we lose our voice and become cheap labor for companies?
This is what I propose. It’s a simple method because those who do spec work, myself included, do it because we enjoy our craft. We do enjoy the industries that we work in and for the most part want to be very successful designers. So this is the idea and i challenge you consider when given the opportunity to be part of this problem:
1. Define your rates and proposal.
2. Define any price breaks for more than 5-10 pieces selected.
3. Define usage permissions, may it be for 1 season only, or one year. I hate it when a company pays you $300 bucks for a piece that turns into a common item on their line.
4. Work up cost difference between something that is Illustrated and something that is throw together. You should know the difference.
5. Know your own personal worth. Very important. If you are new, don’t charge a lot, you need the experience.
6. Set up a small base rate per each comp with a cap limited. Example, set up $25 for each comp supplied up to 10 comps. if a piece is selected, then you deduct that rate from the chosen cost which could be $300 per piece. If the client only selects 2 pieces out of 10, then at least you were paid a small fee for your ‘comp’ time.
7. The designer owns all work. Don’t be afraid of buy out fees for illustration work.
8. Know your clients. If they are cool to work with, you can ignore a lot of the rules because you know they have your best thoughts in mind.
9. Very important as well. Most clients are like us, they are Creative Directors or Art Directors on deadlines and are stressed. If you work with them, they will try to get you the right funds on the project. So be professional and nice when your setting up your rates and system.
In the end, try to take control of your work. You’ll know if the client is someone who has your back or if they are trying to take advantage of you to fill their line. The clients who work with you and understand your position are ones that you’ll build the best relationships with.
I’m not suggesting that you should give up spec work. A lot of designers make good money from this, but i’m suggesting you gain control over the process and define your terms. I hope this helps you. Or maybe I’m off base, but please comment, would love to hear you thoughts.