what is the value of graphic design?

I love what I do. Graphic design is a passion for me. I think in design. I am constantly viewing and admiring other people’s work. Always taking in inspiration. It has been this way for me from a very early age. Because of this I keep up on the industry, reading other designer’s blogs and articles, not only on the creative side of things but on the business side as well. In my studies, I have discovered an issue that I was ignorant to just weeks ago. This is an issue that is slowly eating away at the industry like a plague. The design industry is being raped of its value.

We are seeing designers working on speculation, creating artwork in hopes that the people they are submitting it to will choose them for the job or promises of future paying work. We wouldn’t ask our doctor to perform surgery on us with the promise that if we like his work he’ll get paid. We are seeing designers severely low-balling fair industry pricing and transferring all rights of usage for nothing in order to guarantee they secure a project. On freelance forums where people post projects I see designers fighting for jobs. It makes me think of somebody dropping a small piece of food in the middle of the floor and a thousand rats rushing in to try and get it. It’s not a pretty picture and this is in the forefront of what people see. People who buy design see this and get a tainted view of the value of design and therefore form their budgets around a false value. Design is now viewed as a commodity rather than a service. A logo for a hundred bucks. Not an identity system or a brand that involves research and time to develop. That is a service.

At this point I can see two main factors of why this is happening. The first is that with the coming of computers and great design software, people think that there is no effort involved in creating good design. They think that if you have a photo manipulating program and a page layout program that it makes you an instant designer. There is no apparent value in design principals, typography and color theory. Concept doesn’t matter. Just click here, there and push a couple buttons and there you have it! The programs that we use are tools. We use them as a construction worker uses a saw and a hammer. It would be ridiculous to let your 14-year-old nephew build your house just because he has a saw and a hammer.

The second factor is that people fresh into the industry and people who buy design don’t know the true value of this craft. I was guilty of this just a few weeks ago and probably never would have known if I hadn’t looked further than my first glance. What’s on the internet right now is very deceiving. This part of the industry isn’t taught in the schools. Or at least I didn’t learn about it. I think it should be. How are people supposed to know about the value of what they’re providing if they are not taught?

I am not going to sit back and watch the industry I am a part of diminish in value before my eyes. Something needs to be done about this. I will post more on my efforts on this issue.

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2 Responses to “what is the value of graphic design?”

  1. delphina2k Says:

    I read the previous post you made linking to AIGA’s article, too; it’s sadly true that a lot of peoples are ignorant on both ends of the scale. How do you convince yourself and others that your skills are more than “decoration” if you consistently tell them otherwise with your pricing? How do you educate clients that are used to buying $50 logos that there’s serious value in high-concept design? Is the market for high-concept design crumbling into nothing? Are we in danger of being eclipsed by piranha-like freelancer forums?

    The answer for graphic designers is the thing we do best: marketing, branding and creating awareness. Just like we do for our clients, we must convince prospective buyers of the value of our service. Cheap options are everywhere, but the smart clients invest in impact and intelligence in design, and don’t consider the irrelevant eye candy that plagues low-budget design.

    But like many problems, I think it’s worse on the internet than it is in real life. Sites display the $50 logo design bid and the $500 one in the same way, and nothing explains the difference beyond the designers’ own biased claims. Forum-based bidding rips the task of designing a logo out of the context of the company, forcing it to be low-concept work when they don’t answer questions about the target audience or intended use of the logo before the budget is decided. Internet commerce is great when you know what you’re looking for, but it’s a backwards, messed-up system for hiring freelance designers you never intend to talk to in real life. So I don’t know if it’s worth trying to create a new, better internet-based system
    (maybe with a chat interview component?), or simply make professional contacts the old-fashioned way, face-to-face, where it’s easier to sell your worth.

  2. golfbreak Says:

    golfbreak

    Interesting article, thank you.

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