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How badly do you think graphic design is undervalued?

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by Esh, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. Esh

    Esh Member

    Are graphic designers valued and paid?? The bitter truths!! « Graphic Design Blog – An Ultimate Resource for Graphic Designers

    What do you think?

    I know quite a lot of people who have walked out on graphic design, not because they're not good, but because they are completely disrespected as professionals. Going through college, I wasn't taken as seriously as my friends & siblings who were studying for other professions/trades. Many people accept that design is an essential aspect of business, but unlike law and accountancy, where there is very strict access in place, anyone can buy a computer and software and put themself out there as a designer. People don't expect to pay much for it - if anything at all. Even on this site, you'll often see people requesting designs for monkey money (peanuts), or with some excuse like they don't have a budget, etc. Do you think maybe it's time some kind of special certification/membership became essential to the industry otherwise you can't charge for it/practise it, or is it too late for graphic design?
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010
  2. Esh

    Esh Member

    Although this can have a knock on effect for design comapnies, it would also appear that design employers don't value their staff too much see roles for designers at £13/14k that requires a degree, 2+ years experience and a list of skills that rivals the yellow pages. I've never come across this for even a trainee solicitor on a trainee contract. Yet we are meant to be taken seriously? As it is at present, designers are being laughed out of the industry.

    Actually, once when asked what I did, on replying I did graphic design, the response was a shocked, " you move 'writing' around a screen and colour in and draw all day?". Try as we might, some people are too ignorant to ever be educated!

    Sorry, rant over! I just read that blog/comments & got slightly annoyed!
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010
  3. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    Whatever you do, don't work for people who don't value what you do: that simple, that complicated.
  4. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    I think it is undervalued in so much as it is a skilled profession that takes a lot of learning in both the applicable sense of drawing and using the software alongside the theoretical sense of typography, form and so on yet, as the post above shows, the financial return doesn't add up to what needs to be learnt in order to do it properly.
  5. TimmyC

    TimmyC Member

    I totally agree, especially when people could not do business without designers.

    The problem is graphic design has become a saturated market, because of so many graphic design companies out there now. Sites like people per hour as well has devalued graphic design because clients will put a job up and there are designers out there offering there service for £5 an hour or something.
  6. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    In which case could you not argue that the value of a graphic designer is the value that he places upon himself? If a designer is willing to work for £5 p/h then is he not valuing himself at £5 p/h?

    Personally, if I have no work on and would like a job then I'd typically accept slightly reduced pay under the mantra of reduced pay is better than no pay.

    Would others on here this perceive this as undervaluing myself or do you not just see it as the logical way of paying the bills, thoughts?
  7. TimmyC

    TimmyC Member

    I can see your point, but what happens is people percieve that this is a typical rate for a graphic designer, devaluing the profession. It is a highly skilled and takes artistic approach to be designers. When you think of a plumber that can charge £25-£50 an hour, so should a graphic designer. Its skilled business needs them, they shouldnt be viewed as someone who can accept a low wage.

    Taking a lower wage to take a job is absolutely fine if you need the money to pay bills, to look after families etc. You need to get yourself a job! However doesn't mean that graphic designers should be devalued as they are a great asset to business.
  8. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    I completely agree with everything that you say.

    For the most part though, designers can and do charge £25-50 per hour so that isn't the problem and, in many ways, I can't help but feel that the client who doesn't want to pay as much isn't going to regardless either. In which case they'll find the rates they're after somewhere so design would still be devalued to the same extent.

    I still agree with you, just thought I'd throw it out there and see some opinions - I'd have thought we all have to do it from time to time! :icon_smile:
  9. Minuteman Press

    Minuteman Press Moderator

    Why sell on price?

    I have employed quite a number of Graphic Designers in my career (full time, part time, consultancy) and have looked at track record / results first before money. If the GD is the one I want and I can obtain the finances - that's the one I'll hire.

    Not taken seriously etc - happens with a lot of professions. So what? Toughen up. Walked out of a profession due to being disrespected, come on. Sounds like a lack of passion / motivation / extraordinary self-belief.

    The best will succeed - just keep at it (and live within your means).
  10. Esh

    Esh Member

    I agree to a certain extent. You see, some people from other professions aren't taken seriously, but with graphic design, it's not a case of some people, it's the whole industry that is not really taken seriously. For those people turn their back, I could see why, passion or no passion. They worked and studied (not to mention the financial outlay) hard for anything between 2 and 6 years (maybe less or more in some cases), got themselves in debt, count in the general keeping up with skills/constant learning, and thats a hell of a lot of investment, to only be taken the p*** out of, and undervalued.
    Even a trainee solicitor (one who is not properly qualified, pre-roll) can command a minimum salary/rate, and the average qualified fee earning solicitor charges a minimum of £230 per hour to tell you something thats written in a book...see the 'injustice'! No-one would ever go to a solicitor and expect them to work on a case for nothing. Yet designers are expected to as the norm. We're as skilled as eachother in different ways - designers more so, talent and all that. Most people can read and study law. I personally love design, I'm at the beginning and don't claim to be amazing and am learning more everyday, so I'll stick with it, but like I said I can see why some would 'drop out' and it's very disheartening.

    Btw I'm not attacking lawyers or anything, I'm just making an example! I could say the same with other professions like accountancy, health, etc etc etc.
  11. Esh

    Esh Member

    I wont no worries there! I may not be awesome - yet ;) - but It's taken a lot of hard work to learn what I know and can do now and I believe that like those in other professions, I should be paid accordingley. I've personally not had a problem with being paid what I consider reasonable - yet anyway, I'm sure the time will come at some point. If it comes to a time where I can't get enough work (which is inevitable esp for a newbie) I'll try and find part-time work to support myself of get involved in other projects, not 'lower' or devalue the industry more.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  12. TimmyC

    TimmyC Member

    Thats a good point Esh.

    I think where we would prevail is doing overall marketing consultancy. This is something I offer, That is where I can earn a lot more money as the client and I produce strategies that can help there business, whether it is creating some leaflets, brochures or creating a website or managing google adwords, once a strategy is in place and I've quoted a consultancy fee, I have the designing jobs that come with it.

    The marketing side sounds a lot more impressive shall I say than graphic designing. I think people percieve graphic design as the labouring side, where people don't actually understand what goes into graphic design. They don't realise we have to come up with orginal content within our minds, produce the artwork on the computer etc. I think this is the problem within graphic design.
  13. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    I think you may have hit the nail on the head here in what is also a great idea.
  14. Esh

    Esh Member

    I agree. I graduated in 2009 and hardly anyone from my 'class' has been what would be considered 'successful' in terms of graduate employment - ending up working within retail, catering etc. Those who have managed to turn their fortunes around have been those to embrace other areas that compliments graphic design, like marketing etc. I've dipped my toes in likes of social media etc and there is money to be made there. Design, advertising and marketing are very tightly linked, yet when graphic design is mentioned, all that comes to mind is usually 'logos and flyers'! Theres a reason why things like Art Direction, Photography, Marketing, etc are taught on most design courses!
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  15. TimmyC

    TimmyC Member

    That is why graphic design is under rated!

    If you do marketing consultancy than you are a marketing cosultant not a graphic designer. Graphic designers are a small part of marketing. However, I still believe there the driving force of marketing, there part of the main engine that runs marketing, but sadly people do not recognize this.
  16. Esh

    Esh Member

    It would be nice to see come kind of rigourous bar for 'entry' though, be it an HND, degree, some kind of assessment/exam that covers not only design but other things like marketing, customer service/client care, business side, legalities etc etc etc. And only after the 'test' can one be certified to 'practise' i.e. charge for this kind of work. Anyone else doing so would be doing so illegally...would be hard to prove though. It works for health, law, and other sectors so despite how hard it would be, it could work. It's hard mainly because anyone can pick up a copy of Photoshop, install it on a computer and call themselve a designer...but design isn't about photoshop, thats a tool, just like a teacher uses a whiteboard and marker pen as one of their tools. Maybe designers themselves - ourselves? - need to take themselves more seriously as a whole, then this will start to stop. If every designer stands their ground and refuses to do a logo for £10, than the 'client' will have no choice but to accept it, because he can't just run off to the next designer to get it done cheaper - give or take a few quid...there needs to be some competition...not sure if that made any sense! :icon_rolleyes:
  17. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    I think that this would be the only real way to do it to be honest, but the only problem is that it just isn't going to happen.

    The fact that designers from areas such as India, for example, can also chip in with extremely low rates will always be there and I can't see how the suggestion would ever really work in practice.
  18. Offelias

    Offelias Member

    It may amuse you guys to know that my sister is a trainee Solicitor, while I am studying Graphic Design :icon_biggrin:

    At first, my course was 'drawing' but after seeing the amount of work I have to put in throughout the whole process of design, I can safely say I am respected (at least by her).

    When working at a job in the pub, I had mixed reactions so I think the respect issue depends entirely on who your talking to and what background they come from. Its usually a case that people don't understand what's required of a designer. In an extremely visual world where people see what your business looks like before they know the details - it would be good if business courses (even week long evening classes) approached the importance of good visual representation as well as the usual finance and business plans.

    A bad visual can turn customers away while a good one will bring them in to find out more. Its an investment and thats something many don't understand.

    What I find the worst are the people who have something designed and then try their best not to be contacted when payment is due (or in one case, went off and had another designer construct my design for print-ready without paying me). That is when I feel disrespected as a designer. When clients watch you to the point of madness in case they get ripped off - yet they happily do the same, as though your not worth being paid or treated professionally. Swings in roundabouts.

    The point? I think the great clients and great outcomes make up for all of the rubbish we have to deal with. It's part of the job unfortunately, but treat every job as though its THE job and regardless of how your treated, you still have your job satisfaction!!!
    Not many people seem to do what makes them happy but rather work for money. As long as I can pay the bills I'm happy because I know I'm going to enjoy the next 40 years of my life and look forward to waking up every Monday morning. No one can take that away from me.
  19. Esh

    Esh Member

    Lol my bro is a trainee solicitor hence using that as my example :icon_biggrin:.
    He saw all the work I had to do for uni, and though he respected it to an extent, he still seemed to think it was as importnant as what he was doing as he was doing. To be honest, most respect I do get about my quals/background, is not because of the hard work put in, but becuase graphic design is percieved as 'cool'. I'm often asked why I don't 'look like a designer' i.e. art studenty?! :icon_dunno: I agree with everything else you say though!
  20. this_is_peter

    this_is_peter New Member

    I agree. I sued to work with someone and I remember them saying. anyone can be a designer as long as they have the kit. Not true I don't think.

    The important factor to remember in this day and age with computers being easier to obtain than ever before. More and more people will try their hand at design. Buy a cheap £79 program and go into business. The golden rule is you cant beat these guys, you just have to stand out.

    Never undersell yourself. You are better being a master of one trade not a jack of all.

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