Which would be your scenario: doing great, conceptually strong work that clients won’t necessarily appreciate and not getting payed for it (or at least not accordingly) or producing mediocre work, no content/no offense, and getting a fat paycheck at the end of a month ? Is it possible to combine both scenarios, meaning doing great work for clients who are open to it and getting well payed in return?
Lets be honest: in order to do work that matters, we need a certain peace of mind, which is hard to achieve when you’re struggling with financial and thus existential issues – loan and bills to pay, groceries to buy… The list just gets longer with each passing year. One of my teachers at the university once said: « In order to do great work (and it could be any creative kind of work, like writing or painting), one needs to be one miserable son of a bitch. »
Well, this has certainly been case with many famous creative people over the centuries, however, from my personal experience, being a miserable « son of a bitch » doesn’t necessarily lead to producing great work. What it certainly does produce is a lot of unnecessary stress and tears and self-doubt.
And since as designers we’re often passionate about our work, it’s much harder to set the price. The two just mingle together, making things confusing, cause we do have this chance: getting payed for doing something we love to do. It’s almost like getting payed just for loving someone…
After that, there’s the client issue: many of our clients end up being our friends. When working for someone you actually appreciate as a human being, it seems only natural to sort of erase a typical client/service provider dividing line, which is a lovely thing in a way, but then the whole financial business gets even more complex.
So, can we do the work that matters, be ourselves and get payed for it? Well, one of the reasons why I became I became a graphic designer is that I certainly believe so. It’s not easy to manage as in real life, we don’t always have a right to « sketch » first and try if it works, but I do hope we’ll figure this out and we’re getting better at it with each passing project. In the end, it’s all about knowing your limits – and your worth as a designer as much as a human being.