What You Pay For
A few weeks ago, I was asked if I could create a logo free of charge for someone (though designers usually have a friends and family price, this was not a particularly close friend). After telling them my normal rate for a logo design (I even threw in a discount), the response was, "well, do you know where I can get a free logo?" I should really learn to not be offended so easily by comments like these. It is just honest ignorance of any education in the art industry. So I thought instead of ranting, I would educate people on what they are paying for when paying a graphic designer. Whether it is a logo, ad, or website, here is the cost of your project broken down. (Note, this is my story, and may vary depending on the designer. Some have less experience and education, and some have way more.) First and foremost, you are paying for my education. You are paying for the years and years I've spent in art classes, starting from an early age. You are paying for additional special classes and certifications I had to take to advance to higher level art classes. You are paying for all of the hours I've spent creating and compiling a portfolio to get accepted into a prestigious art program for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. You are paying for even more hours spent on my thesis project and final portfolio review, not to mention, countless other portfolio reviews along the way. You are also paying for the additional classes and webinars I continue to take, in order to stay current with an ever-changing field. You are paying for my experience. When designers are starting out, we do a lot of free work. The free work helps us figure out what works and what doesn't, what clients like, what competitors do, and it helps us learn to work quickly and efficiently (often under stressful deadlines). We are happy to do free work when we are starting out because it gives us experience and portfolio pieces to prove to future clients that we have gained experience and exposure. In other words, my degrees mean nothing to an employer if I don't have experience in addition, which means LOTS of free work was done before I could even get my first design job. You are paying for my time. There is no special "logo" button in Photoshop, despite what some people think. You are paying for the hours I spend researching what other similar companies have done in order to create a competitive piece of work for you, and avoid popular ideas that were already done to avoid plagiarism. You are paying for the countless sketches I've done and ideas that I've had. You are paying for the various versions I've created until I've found one (or several) that I present to you. And you are paying for the umpteen times you ask me to revise it until it's perfect. You are paying for my business expenses. If you are working with a freelancer, chances are there are a lot of charges they have to endure. As a part-time freelancer, I have fewer fees than most full-time freelancers, but there are still quite a few. At a minimum, you are paying for small things like my business' website hosting plan, my business cards, and my advertising. But, you are also paying for my expensive laptop with the expensive software I need, the gas I use to meet with you, the cell phone I use speak with you, and the internet plan I use to communicate with you and send your files. You are also paying for the LLC, Tax ID, and trademark I had to register to become an official business. Lastly, and most importantly, you are paying for an artist's eye. Have you ever found a logo or an advertisement that you didn't like? You can't describe why, but something is off about it. I know what it is, and I know how to fix it. I've spent years and years with art teachers and design teachers so I know how to create a balanced work of art that's pleasing to the eye. I know which colors work together and which ones don't. I know that warmer colors like reds and oranges create a different feeling than cooler colors like blue and purple, and I know which will suit your intentions best based on the psychological studies I've learned in my required classes for my degrees. I know what design trends are outdated, and if used will make your company appear outdated (so please listen when I try to talk you out of it!). I also know how to make a viewer's eye follow a certain direction across a design, so that they pick up the most important information first. So, can anyone create a logo with the right software? Sure. Can anyone create a logo with the wrong software? Absolutely. You don't need to be an artist or have any education or experience to create graphics. And that's the hardest thing about this industry. But if you take all of these points I've mentioned into consideration when hiring your graphic artist, I promise you'll see the difference.