Everyone loves a bargain, right? It seems that this is not solely confined to the t-shirt you got in the sales or the half-priced loaf of bread you bought in Waitrose. If you haggle with a shopkeeper, you’re still getting the exact same t-shirt, just for less money. But is this the same deal for creativity? Are you getting the exact same service for less? I don’t think so. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about designers getting all arsey about clients – most of mine respect what I do in the same way that I respect them; it’s that mutual respect that makes a working relationship great. They know that I am open to negotiation in the same way that they may be over a deadline. Some clients (and I use the term loosely because it’s rare that they become as such) seem to think that creatives do not deserve to be paid what they think they are worth, and by that I do not mean an extortionate rate. So, here before you try to chip a creative person down on price, let me give you an idea of exactly what you are paying for.
1. You are paying for time
Everyone knows that the main cost for creatives is the time they invest into projects. Why waste so much time with the ‘airy fairy’ stuff and just design something in half the time? Surely, it can’t take that long can it? Well, yes it can. The problem with squeezing an artist’s budget means that they will be spending considerably less time on a project, which in turn means a lack of thought and applied skills. Creativity is not just the time with pen to paper or mouse to screen but the thought processes that are invested way before a project has even started. If you scrap any area of the process then the end result will suffer. I’ve had people tell me to create a logo in an hour, as though they would be getting the exact same result for squeezing my time. Tell a builder to take less time building your house and what have you got? A falling down house. You catch my drift. Besides which, our time is not solely invested into creative things, there are boring administration things like invoicing and paying bills. We’re not just sat on our arses colouring in, we still need to do cold calling and network like any other business.
2. You are paying for a creative brain
When I hire an accountant, I do not tell him how long things should take him or how to do things because I have absolutely no idea, Essentially, you cannot cut that creative thinking process out and nor should you want to. When artists are pressed for time there will be sacrifices made which means the ideas they come up with will not be as inspiring or original. If you think that coming up with ideas and creating something visual is easy then maybe you should have a go yourself. Oh, wait, but that’s why you commissioned an artist, right? Exactly. You are paying for someone who thinks differently to you to come up with a visual solution to your problem.
3. You are paying for a service
I’ve been questioned over why I would charge for an image that I have already created, as though the work has already been put in and therefore I do not deserve to be paid. I’m pretty sure Madonna would be a bit miffed if she got nothing every time someone played one of her songs on the radio or if she didn’t get a percentage of record sales. If something is desirable then it has value, especially if you are to be using a visual idea to promote your own product or service. If Apple used your face on the front of their advertising campaign I’m sure you’d expect more than a free iPhone case.
4. You are paying for experience
I can get asked why some artists charge more than others and, although there are a number of reasons, a big one is down to experience. Go ahead and ask a college student do do something for cheap and perhaps they will oblige because they need the exposure, but you can guarantee the work will not be as professional (sorry students and my former self, you’re not all that just yet). The thing about experience is not just the time invested into actual projects, but the wealth of experience you gain from working with different clients and how to handle things in a professional manner. Sure, a student may do a nice logo but they may not have a clue how to put it onto business cards or set up artwork for print. They may not know about things like crops and bleed (no, that’s not a reference to wheat and injuries).
5. You are paying for our dinner
Creative people need to make a living just like everyone else. We have bills to pay and children to feed. If you think that we don’t deserve food on our tables just because we do something that we enjoy then go and invest your money into people who have no passion for what they do instead. I, for one, want to work with people who are enthusiastic and go the extra mile for me and I believe they’re worth their weight in gold. I don’t know many artists who charge the earth for what they do, if anything they charge too little, so please do not disrespect their services and try to pay them less. You will regret doing so when the end result is not quite what you wanted.