Get a Rolex for $50

Sound fishy? That’s essentially what a very good majority of people expect, if you substitute a Rolex for a logo.

You can’t get a Rolex of a logo for $50, or $100. I’m using a Rolex as an example because it’s made with care and quality and takes a while to make, and the price reflects that. So if you’re a designer and you work for a price that is low, the assumption is your product is cheaply made and won’t last and you didn’t take the time to research and craft an exceptional product. I’m not saying you have to charge $50,000 for a logo. Be aware of fair market standards. If you have no experience and need a starting point and thinking that doing low-budget work will help you get a foothold, the reality check is once you get there, that’s all you’ll get. Your word-of-mouth referral would be “hire this guy, he’s cheap”, so you’re never going to be able to raise your prices without losing that customer base, and if that’s all you are depending on, you’re going to get screwed.

The best thing you can do is work for a company. If you have no experience, plenty of places are open to hiring an intern.

As a client, you need to be aware of why you need good design.

Adam Swan had a very nice write-up on Forbes about the Era of Design, where he stated,

“What is certain is that the design bar has been raised and design-oriented businesses are winning.

Think how swiftly and strongly a design experience shapes our opinion of that brand, company or store, for good or bad. For instance, we know quickly when a website is bad. And we associate that feeling of frustration, or worse, disappointment with that brand.

Design-oriented organizations invest in thinking this stuff through. They put design at the heart of their company to guide innovation and to continually improve products, service and marketing. They recognize that a great design leads to differentiation, customer loyalty and higher profit.”


Sinclair Community College – Waste of an education

No, I’ve never gone there. I went to SAA. So why, do you ask, am I saying it’s a waste?  Because they have a commercial art program, yet they are advertising a workforce development seminar on DIY design (@SinclairWFD).  Yes that’s right.  They are teaching people how to design for clients in their commercial art program, and then clients how to design for themselves.  Do they have no faith in their own program?  Do they put them in that lowest of regard?

The class states the following:

You don’t have to be a graphic artist to create exciting collateral materials.  Learn the tips, tricks, and techniques for designing simple, yet engaging, documents and more in this half-day course.  Discover how to use Word to create a flyer, newsletter, or special event registrations, as well as how to use PowerPoint for signs, storyboards and certificates.  Incorporate graphics, special formatting, and simple color design to wow your audience.  By the end of the course you will be able to understand the design capability of each product and how they can meet your needs.

This is a down-right joke and a slap in the face to all designers (and, their art program).

If you want to look like you care about your brand and how you present yourself to others you don’t do it yourself (unless you are a real designer, of course!).

Word is not a layout program. It’s a processing program. It’s not designed to be used for press-quality printing (pray-tell, how do you apply bleed in Word?). Unless you are really good buddies with your printer, you are going to be getting a hefty bill for refitting your layout into something they can actually use. PowerPoint for signs? Really? It doesn’t even support native vector. Even if you want to go the “office printer” route, last time I checked you can’t print off a sign (or have anything that bleeds, unless you print larger and spend hours cutting).

Do they also discuss in your little seminar, the proper DPI and color models required for proper press printing? Doubtful.

You can’t learn design overnight.

Why even have any commercial art programs if they are marketing a workshop so people do it themselves (and rather poorly).

For the cost of the seminar ($125) you could hire me and it would be done right.  With how much the printer would charge to fix the layout issues I might actually be cheaper!

I should also mention that @SinclairWFD also follows the Dayton Creative Syndicate. What a joke.

Emails that irk

There are a few emails that really get to me. The first is the SEO companies that email promising the first page on Google. Does 100% of the internet population on the planet use Google for searching? I don’t think so. I personally don’t think that being on the front page of Google is that important as long as you can be found. The reason is, not everything on the first page of Google is relevant in a search (I’m sure you’ve kept browsing to additional pages because you didn’t see any description or title in the search results that fit). Not everything you type into Google will land you on the front page. I’m on page one for  “logo design dayton”, “flash design dayton”, “graphic design xenia” and page 2 “web design xenia”. It’s another reason why I’m using WordPress – better SEO.

That’s relatively not bad considering most of the links will get weeded out because they don’t have a business title which looks impersonal. When I get these emails I am so tempted to email back:

Well you found me, didn’t you? I must not be that hard to find online.

The next email that gets me mad is when people send me emails and most specifically asking for a job. They always word it “at your company”. I’m sorry but when I was looking for a job I went to websites for companies that I would like to work for. I would read the content of the website to get a feel for the kind of workplace it would be (words say a lot on whether the company is youthful and edgy or conservative and refined). If anyone had read my site (even the front page) they would know “my company” is just me, if they read the about page they would know that I have a full-time job, and if they read either the front page or FAQ they would know I am the only one that designs (to save the client cost and to give personal attention). At the bottom of the FAQ it says – crystal clear I might add:

Under no circumstances will I outsource graphic design work (I have received more than one email about people wanting me to outsource offshore and I will NOT have it). I pride myself in doing designs for my clients myself.

For pete’s sake READ! So now if you are any of the aforementioned people and wondering why you are reading this, it’s because I don’t feel like repeating myself.

Don’t Let Cost Undercut Quality

I was reading on the HOW design forum today and noticed a post by Jeff Fisher about Forbes magazine. Forbes had described the graphic design business field “snooty” and two men having made a company where hundreds of designers submit for undervalued “prize” money. Ironically the owners of this new company have backgrounds in design it seems so I suppose that would make them “snooty”.

One of the owners had this to say:

“The beauty of our site is that it doesn’t matter if you have a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design or if you’re a grandma in Tennessee with a bunch of free time and Adobe Illustrator”

If you wanted a lawyer and they hadn’t gone to school or passed the BAR, would YOU hire them? If you wanted a meal at a nice restaurant but the cook hadn’t been trained in food prep and sanitation would you eat there? Now of course there are some times when a designer doesn’t need training, they are an absolute natural. You as a client SHOULD be able to research the designer and find out what their background is and their projects and their clients.

The issue with sites like this (contests) is that a designer can’t have a real relationship with the client. They are so concerned about how their design is going to fare against other designs that they probably spent way to time on the design and even if they didn’t completely miss the mark, they “might” win money but they should have made more given the time spent over the concept and the infinitesimal amount of revisions required before the client makes any actual decision. To top that off, if the client receives less than 25 concepts he can bail and get his deposit back.

Problems with contests for clients

  • If you are a client here are some other issues with this kind of method – you pay a company to find you artwork…isn’t that essentially the same as hiring a firm with designers as employees?
  • You may have no idea who is submitting artwork.
  • You also may or may not have the luxury of knowing who designed your art so if there is a need for edits later you will have to hire someone to edit is since these sites don’t cover edit contests later.
  • You don’t have any kind of assurance that these designers aren’t ripping the art from someone else.
  • You can’t follow up for additional design work later that uses the same branding
  • They devalue the industry (how would you like your company selling stuff for really cheap just to get some kind of money…not even necessarily a profit?)
  • Amateur individuals (typically the people who accept contests are in need of money and are desperate and willing to steal other people’s work for it. Also, you may find yourself with a bunch of designs that you don’t like but you have to pick and pay for one).
  • Devalues you (you might have to pay to post your project but any Joe can submit a design).
  • Even if you get the file in the right format, the designer might have not formatted the actual artwork correctly (fonts that aren’t converted to outlines, shapes that aren’t merged, strokes not converted, etc).
  • If you are able to contact the designer later, you might have issues dealing with them. They may take forever to get in touch with you.
  • Your needs may not be 100% met.

Problems with contests for designers

  • You can’t get all the detailed information you may need to be able to properly design for the client and typically contact is restrained so if you need to ask a question you can’t.
  • The client can withdraw their contest and then if you’ve worked on it there was 0% chance of winning. You will never have a guarantee of payment.
  • You are devaluing yourself. You are willing to work for less and people will take advantage of that. Then you will have to cut brainstorming and quality design time to make up for it.
  • You might have to transfer copyright (sure it’s all good and all if the company pays well but for $100? it’s not worth it!). Some sites have copyrights transferred even if you DON’T win!
  • You have no way of knowing how your artwork will end up and whether or not those who get the artwork know how to use it and so you could be represented poorly.
  • Typically you won’t have a contract so there is no way to protect yourself and your work.

When Advertising Crosses the Line

I was reading up on blog posts on a local design firm (of which I won’t mention so they can’t find this post). There was a seminar held at ThinkTV in 2005 (I started working there in 2007 so I wasn’t on staff at the time thank goodness…or I would’ve had a vocal fit…reason following) about Guerilla Marketing. The Greater Dayton Advertising Association (formerly the Dayton Ad Club) holds seminars at ThinkTV (where I am the Art Director) very often. We donate the space to them and “local firm’s” owner religiously attends the seminars. Well this particular seminar the “local firm” decides to get creative in an unwholesome way. They write on the ThinkTV building walls and sidewalk with chalk such as “You can read a book about “Guerrilla Marketers” or you can hire one.” and “It costs big money to put your name here or here (with arrows pointing to the names of ThinkTV donors engraved in marble along the sidewalk) but chalk is cheap.”

Now the staff at ThinkTV hosed down the chalk. The “local firm” put it back up before the seminar.

Keeping that in mind…ThinkTV is donating the space. ThinkTV is the most widely used nonprofit, educational and cultural service in southwestern Ohio. Each week more than 750,000 viewers watch ThinkTV. More than 1,000 schools serving more than 400,000 students, K-12, receive our daily educational programming and services. ThinkTV is funded by a public-private partnership including government support and community-based support from individuals, foundations and corporations. More than 17,000 individuals voluntarily support our public television stations by becoming ThinkTV members each year. Their support is critical to our annual operating budget.

That said, I think the “local firm” crossed the line and it was definitely done in poor taste. What they did insulted the character of ThinkTV and the seminar attendees (and some of those represent ad agencies who are just trying to better fulfill client needs). I can’t believe “local firm” hasn’t been banned from the premises. The firm got an ADDY for their chalk graffiti but I can’t imagine it ever being a true success.