Never Tell Them What You Do

This is what you get for $100.

I am a graphic designer. I design stuff for a living. It’s not bad as jobs go, but there are certain things that really bug me about it. I’ve bitched before about things that suck about being a graphic designer, but I forgot to mention that I hate how everyone asks you to do their stuff.

I was outside today talking to one of my new coworkers. He’s a customer service representative. I get to hear them talking to customers all day. “What is your street address? No, that’s your phone number. Your street address. It’s a bunch of numbers followed by your street name. No, that’s a zip code…” What fun! The people who call us don’t seem all that brainy. That’s not necessarily fair of me. Maybe they have perfectly functional brains that just have problems with addresses.

Anyway, I was outside talking to one of our new customer service reps and he asked me what I do at work. I said I do all the graphic design. “Oh, cool! Want to do my band’s logo?” NOOOOOOOOOO, my brain screams, but my mouth says, “only if you pay me,” and matches the words with a sardonic smile thinking that would be the end of it.

Alas, no, that was not the end of it. Coworker says, “Oh, sure. We can pay you. How about $100?” Brain screams at me, “The friend rate starts $200 and I just met you, therefore, you are not a friend, so take your penny-ante bullcrap and find some other sucker.” But my mouth says nothing, because coworker is already off and running telling me about his band and the music video they’re doing and what he wants the logo to look like. “It’ll be so killer.”

This is no way to get a job. Imagine, if you will, that you’re at a party and get to talking to a dentist. As soon as he tells you that he’s a dentist, you tell him all about this pain in your tooth and how you’d like him to fix it. You’ll give him a hundred dollars and will be at his office first thing Monday, alright? Before he can answer, you walk away without any feedback from the dentist who would surely tell you you’re insane even though he’s not a mental health professional. That’s what people do to graphic designers.

My hourly design rate is $50, with a project minimum of $200. And that’s the friend rate. My friends pay it gladly because they know I’m a good designer and they won’t find anyone to do it cheaper because that’s a balls-out cheap rate. $50 an hour might seem like a lot, but it isn’t.

$50 an hour includes all my training, experience and creativity. It includes the cost of printer ink and the printer, my computer and software. It includes printing proofs, data storage and file organizing. It includes dealing with your printer and/or back-end web developer who most assuredly is going to have me make changes. It includes a 100% original design that is yours to keep forever, including a custom font because I create my own. There is no goddamn clip art because I don’t use clip art. There is nothing in that design that anyone could say “Hey, that’s mine. Pay me,” and if they do, they’re lying because I made it from fucking scratch and can bloody well prove it. Also, I have to pay self-employed taxes on that $50, which means I’m only getting roughly $25.

This is what you get for $100.
This is what you get for $100.

So, when someone forces a design job on me that I don’t want and didn’t even say I would do for only $100, it’s insulting. It’s insulting to me the same way it would be to that dentist. People don’t do that to dentists or doctors or lawyers or even house cleaners (It seems that they do–see the comments), but they do it to graphic designers. Apparently, my experience, my livelihood, means nothing because you know how to make a lolcat. Well, good for you, but that’s got fuck all to do with me.

If I hadn’t been at work, I might have told new customer service rep that I’m an accountant, but then he probably would have asked me to do his taxes.