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Why Do Designers Charge So Damn Much

“Wow, you gone charge me that much? Man, I thought we were friends!”

“Wow, you’re only charging me that much? We are gonna be good friends man!”

Same price, same job type, different people, different perspectives. I have honestly heard both, and I can honestly say that the guy who thought we were friends, I hadn’t seen in at least 5 years. 

Everyone loves a hookup. And that’s totally understandable. It’s when you expect the hookup, or feel entitled to the hookup that’s a little disrespectful to my time and my craft.

I’m gonna share my story with you so that maybe you’ll understand the reasons for a designer charging whatever price they charge and have a little more empathy when it’s time to pay that invoice.

I’ve been drawing my entire life. As a toddler I would get into all kinds of trouble for drawing on walls around the house. It was just something I couldn’t help. I would get a whooping and do it again the next week. The art was inside me, ready to get out…on the wall.

Eventually my uncles, who worked at the paper company, began bringing me paper. I would have stacks and stacks of paper of all sizes; from standard letter size to giant poster boards. And I would meticulously fill each sheet with whatever came to mind.

In middle and high school I started making a little money drawing people’s portraits for them in color pencil after I saw a guy in my class do the same. He was completely in another league than I was. I really don’t know how they actually paid for what I was putting out. Perspectives I guess. Word got around that I could draw a little and soon I was getting paid to hand draw flyers, posters, designs on clothes, and much more.

Then, in my sophomore year in high school I decided to take this new class they offered called Commercial Arts, because the normal art classes bored me to death. This is when my life changed as I was introduced to Graphic Design. It was 3 classes in one. There was Illustration, Typography, and Layout. And with each, we learned to use our hands as well as a computer. So we produced hand drawn illustrations, typography, as well as manually laid out jobs too. This was 1991-93 and I loved this class!

From here I went on a 15 year, self taught, freelance kick. I worked and learned design any way that I could after I got off from my full time jobs. I created designs for all kinds of people and businesses while continuing to grow and get better. I studied the ins and outs of design and kept up with trends. I went to seminars and spent countless hours listening to mentors. I lost many hours of sleep because the customer had a deadline and I had to work OT on the full time job that week. I remember once not going to sleep at all for 2 days, laying out a very wordy menu for a local restaurant.

2013, after being a part time designer for like 19 years, I decided it was time to take it up a notch. I moved an hour and a half away and enrolled into the Art Institute. The classes were 4 hours each and the instructors were actual designers. I drove a forklift full time and went to school full time, I can rest later. I was already a designer and older than some of my instructors so of course I was the teachers pet. That school is expensive and I will be paying off those loans for a while to come, but even though I’m done with school, I’m still studying and learning my craft all the time.

So let’s tally it up.

  • Years of illustration experience
  • Schooling
  • More years of experience
  • Lost sleep
  • More education
  • Even more years of experience
  • My time
  • The electric bill
  • The office rent
  • The gas to get to the office
  • The software
  • The hardware
  • The time it takes to think about the design
  • The time it takes to create the design

All of that together is the reason why I’m careful about giving out hookups and why designers charge so damn much! Now are you gonna be my new friend or a past friend? That’s up to you, but my price is my price.

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