The value of graphic design?

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As a graphic designer, I have passion and love with what I do. I was inspired by many designers I read and kept up to-date on websites, articles, blogs& design forums. We, as designers create solutions; how a design is perceived and influenced by consumer choices. Graphic design is not only an art; but it is actually a visual communication for commercial success. Up to this day, many of us are ignorant of an issue that is harassing the design industry; it is being ravaged of its value.

Most of us have studied for it and have worked to understand the processes and the psychology of designs. Design itself reflects an image, the value of products & services. Think about the products you buy or the stores that you shop at. Have you ever hesitated on a purchase because of the way it looked?

I have observed many designers underestimating industry prices and giving clients rights as they want just to ensure they secure the project. Even on freelancer forums & sites where designers “bid” the best price for projects/ jobs like $50 for logo design or $100 website. Why does this happen? Desperation! I cannot imagine how you can get an original logo designed which truly reflects your corporate image with such a flimsy logo design fee. I think this gives a clouded view to the design buyers who shape their budgets around a faux value.

I sincerely believe that there are a few factors why we are experiencing this disastrous event. In the first instant, now is the dawn of the computer age where design softwares used by unprofessional people think that as long as they can use Photoshop to manipulate pictures or layout a design with no effort, creating a so-called good design, instantaneously makes them think they are a designer. Wrong! The programs we use are tools just as a builder with their hammer and nails to build a great structure. You wouldn’t want your 12-year old to build your house just because he knows how to use a hammer and nails. It is not about knowing- but understanding. In design itself, we have design rationales, colour theory, typography, elements and most importantly – concept.

Why does design now viewed as a commodity rather than a service? It is not! My professional view is that there is a lack of education and exposure especially fresh graduates from design schools, not knowing that what they charged is a meager sum just to secure projects. Ridiculous! I, myself as a designer was not aware of this until I looked further into this matter and understood that many do not understand the value of designs. A lot of sites offer cheap solutions especially to those that are underselling the industry. How are our clients supposed to know the true value of our services if all they see are these freelance type sites and low-balling designers?

I would greatly appreciate if we all could make a stand and create awareness that designs have got specific values. I would not sit and let the industry crumble to dust with this mortification. I am proud to be a qualified graphic designer.

I would gladly hope to hear a few feedbacks on this matter.

Thank you.

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5 Responses

  1. marshallyard says:

    Amen! To truly grow a company you have to spend money to make money. When your putting yourself out there, you want it to speak, and speak to several different audiences.

  2. dendoo says:

    ugh it so frustrating! i totally understand but i have an even more unique situation: where i live people choke at my prices and i don’t think they’re bad. starting out i did the smartest thing i could think of and called all the design agencies found their prices and used that as a base for mine so i know it’s not bad. people “just love” my work, one of my illustrations would be “perfect” for the job. but then they only want to pay me a little $50 bucks here, $75 there.

    when they go to the white designers, and i have no problems with them cause they do wonderful work, and get their quotes they are more than ready to pay them $5,000, $3,000. It’s very unfair and very hard. Most clients want me to “prove i can do the work” by doing a piece for free and then they’ll pay me $50 then next time.

    I even had one who wanted me to do the first one for free and all he said he’d do is buy me lunch…

    So for me I was struggling with a mixture of what you wrote and my special black is whack design problem.

    Luckily for me I have a designer friend who just moved here and he is giving me great tips on how to overcome this problem, perseverance is the biggest step, and how to properly charge for my work. Never settle for less and never settle just cause your stomach is rumbling.

    love your work, keep on keeping on.

  3. Your post reminds me of a discussion I’ve had in http://www.designerstalk.com. I went over the discussion forum and asked the question “Are we discussing design in this forum or craft?” Personally, I think most of what we are getting out there is craft. People working with established conventions and never innovating which is what distinguishes design from craft. What we have is the market hiring craftspeople who call themselves designers for craftsperson prices. The term designer has lost its meaning.

    The truth is its a trend in the industry. Google calls its programmers “engineers” although they have no professional accreditation. Call center staff are being called “managers”. And so on. A job title has lost all meaning and the people who sincerely put in the work to get education and experience are being devalued.

  4. Shawn says:

    You get what you pay for (re: those cheap design sites).
    There’s a lot of uneducated clients out there who think ‘no art is worth this much’. It’s so wrong, and those are the clients you don’t want. If you feel you’re talented enough to charge a certain rate, then charge it, because the clients who don’t bat an eye at your invoice are the ones who truly understand and therefore will come back for more.

    I’ve been cheated out of money for design before and it’s not a pretty picture (no pun intended). I feel that we (designers) are a precious resource, that cannot be substituted with creative suite. Our skills, though not the same, are close to that of a surgeon – in that when the time comes for something professional to be produced, one must step up to the plate and use all their energy and education to execute the problem.

  5. Jeanine Handley says:

    This has been on on going battle since I became a designer over 30 years ago (BC before computers) Some of the problem is that there is not a recognized agency or group that will qualify and rank designers.
    We can get all of the degrees, but the business community does not have an uniform way to value design or qualify those who claim to be designser. Also much of design and its value is subjective, so what works and is valued by one firm may not be so for another. Its a matter of continually educating your clients and selling the value, not the design.
    I always equate my skills, professionalism with something in their world so that they get the concept that good design has real value.
    Design is an intregal component of
    business. Effective design demands analytical thinking and collaboration among various disciplines. In communication, visual design enables and enhances clear communication. Visual communication brings consistency to marketing strategies, thus helping the client reach their audience.
    Valuable design is about substance, meaning and clarity. Professional designers are able to understand complex information and make it accessible to various audiences by engaging intelligent aesthetics.
    The creative professional is an intelligent, innovative and resilient strategic thinker. Its not about making it “look good”. Design professionals bring ideas, solutions, craftmanship, and talent to communications, crafting the content to reach, engage, and effectively communicate the message.

    There is no such thing as a “free graphic” this is a business just like any other. You must be able to walk away with your integrty form those that don’t value your talent and skills. It cost just as much to create and produce a little logo as it does for a big one.

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