|If ever there was a time to implement accreditation nationally, it is now. Recently, I received several emails advertising cheap logos, business cards and stationery. The direct mail advertisement promoting these graphic design services wouldn’t allow me to reply. The advertisement was targeting start up companies in particular who supposedly cannot afford to pay a graphic designer the regular rate.
Coincidentally, I was searching for some extra freelance work online and came across this ad stating, “Graphic designers needed” so I checked it out. This company requesting a designer’s service was slick and organized. Curious about what they needed in terms of my skills, I contacted them. The job entailed designing a logo, business card, letterhead and envelope as templates that would be sold en mass to those individual companies in need but first, I had to do a “test.” The test required me to design a logo, business card, letterhead and envelope within 72 hours. Not only was my curiosity piqued, but my investigative prowess went into high gear as well. The criteria given were a brief description of the company, the company name, an address, phone number, fax, and email. They also indicated that I was to use photographic images as part of the design on the business card because it was more “appealing.”
As a perfectionist, I found it difficult to complete the test in less than 72 hours. This was a different way of working. It had nothing to do with a thorough, reflective, thought process that I was so used to applying, but rather it had everything to do with a pumped out, “do it as fast as you can” end result. In fact, perfection, quality and service were not a big requirement of doing this job at all. Plus, there was no client to talk to and get feedback from.
I called to talk to the owner about how much this freelance work would pay an hour. For designing the logo, business card, envelope and letterhead, the designer only received $24.95 in total! When I pumped him for more information about how much his cut was for my hard work, he avoided the question like a pro. I told him I was not used to working like this without a client’s involvement and careful planning. He quipped, “You’ll get used it. We have ten of the top designers in the U.S. working here and they can produce all of the elements you designed for the test in one hour.”
When I asked him why the design fee was so low he snapped, “Our top designers make $2,000 a week. We have 300,000 startup businesses buying our designs across the country and we are expanding. We are hiring four new graphic designers. In the past, we only hired one a year.” I asked, “What about service and quality?” He replied, “you have to be a good designer to work here and as far as service goes, what you see is what you get as a template.” I was getting angrier by the minute listening to this guy bragging about the designers who are prostituting themselves and their talents for pumping out cookie cutter designs for $24.95.
I perused this company’s website and checked out some of the work that had been done by designers. Ninety percent of the designs looked like the careful thought process that I was so used to, was null and void. The type looked as if it was just plopped there as fast as the designer could click “cut and paste.” The emergence of this growing trend is alarming. It not only sends a message to clients on a large scale that designers are willing to prostitute themselves for companies like this, but also it is decimating the “quality” of our profession by the minute, turning it into large scale profits for companies and individuals that are only interested in these profits at the expense of quality design and service.
This approach to practicing business is leveling the playing field for excellent graphic designers who charge what they are worth for delivering quality and service, thereby reflecting their expertise. In this fast paced environment where technology is affording some to replace “quality” with “quantity,” and where money and cheap production become the criteria for defining one’s company, as designers we must fight even harder to educate our clients that this is not a good approach. In a world where visual images demand our attention every day to sell a product, promote an idea, communicate an important message, let’s not forget about the quality of that message, its delivery and the intent of those implementing design solutions.
Grace Visconti is a graphic designer (web and print), writer and part-time shiatsu therapist. Presently, she resides in Calgary, AB and can be reached via email or her website at www.eagleheartdynamic.com.
|©2004, Grace Visconti|