Becoming A Professional Designer – Part One
I’ve recently been working on a friend’s band album art and t-shirt design. It’s always incredibly difficult to work for friends, deciding if you should charge them, what you should charge and if you give away a freebie, will you be stuck providing freebies for the rest of your life. As an ex-freelance designer, I used to find it difficult to say ‘no’ to work, no matter if it was free work or paid. Every job is an opportunity to sell yourself, every job is another step closer to getting the perfect job. Though I have learned to say ‘no’, I can now pick and choose the design jobs I want to get involved in. I don’t need to prove myself, I don’t even need to do them anymore financially, teaching pays my mortgage.
As an ex-freelance designer, I always have time for my friends. Lots of the artists turned professional, that I know, forget about their friends awfully quickly after they’ve had a little bit of success or fame. They start to believe the hype pushed onto them and when that dies down, the fall is so much greater and without your friends there, there’s no one to catch you on the way down. I always have time for my friends, for their ideas, for their trust and for their loyalty in asking me for my talents.
Always make time for your friends, do the best job you can for them, if they are a friend, they’ll see the work and they’ll pay you in whatever way they can. If you’re wondering what to charge, I’d always charge a friend rate of £80 (usually for around £20 an hour for 4 hours work), it’s not a lot, but it’s a little gauge of the work that you have put into it, especially in your spare time. Most of my friends who I have invoiced end up paying more for the work anyway, they don’t want to offend you for paying you pittance for your talents. Friends are friends and time is money, you’ll have to find your own compromise.
If you do the work and you’re not happy with the feedback or payment, next time, just say ‘no’. You can’t feel forced to involve your talents for something that annoys you.
I have been doing these Clay covers on and off for over ten years now, I enjoy pleasing my friends and giving them what they what, while staying true to myself and producing something I’m still proud to attach my name to. It’s a tough thing to do in design. It’s a very fine balance to keep.
This week I’ll upload some forms to help you handle your design work professionally. Tomorrow I will start the whole thing off by featuring an invoice form for claiming your cash.