September 16, 2009
Transparency4 min read
We recently ran into Nate Voss of 36point.com while touring the Willoughby design firm in Kansas City. They seemed nice enough and were doing something similar, interviewing designers for their podcast. We talked to them for about 2 minutes, briefly explained our epic journey and were gone.
We ran into them again — online this time — when they tweeted about one of their latest posts and nonchalantly mentioned we were in it. “Oh awesome!” we thought…an established, very well connected couple of designers mentioned us in one of their blog posts, “sweet!” And in fact, it was pretty awesome, we made it into Nate’s cartoon. Check it out here.
Martin’s character was pretty legit looking and mine (Gavin) had a soul patch. I only wish I could grow facial hair, so thank you Nate for that addition. Although the comic was an inaccurate depiction of what we are doing (see graph below), we really didn’t mind the attention. This is the internet — uneducated opinions run rampant. Another reason we didn’t mind is because we’ve worked with enough people that would vouch for us and if Nate isn’t a fan, we’re okay with that. If you’ve read the comic, then our response will make sense, so check it out first. This is what we responded with.
Nate responded with another post which you can read here if you really want to. After reading the comments, which we really appreciate, we decided we may as well write a little something. We completely agree with what everyone has said, we value our work just as much as the next designer. We also expect to be paid what it is worth. This cross-country drift has quickly tossed us into the freelance world and has given us a true taste of what it means to be paid what you are worth and what it means to go without (read – car wash showers and 89cent taco bell).
The whole premise of Nate’s blog post and some of the comments was that we undercut design firms. Most of our work comes from design firms, where our work is valued. We’ve been able to build relationships with designers through-out this trip across the country. Sometimes they throw some freelance work our way. Sometimes they’re just stoked about our journey and want to help us out by giving us a project to work on. The rest of our work comes from back in texas, where we are from. Where we bill our normal rate.
20% of the work we’ve done, we would consider under-billed. 10% of that was work done for close friends and for charity groups. We have no problem working for charities for a reduced rate/free. We do however make sure to let them know what the value had been if we were charging them our regular rates. As for the other 10%, this is not work that was stolen from any design firm or designer. This is work that we’ve found in small towns or small start-ups that 99% of the time wouldn’t go to a designer for work. In fact, we’ve been able to educate a few clients about the importance smart design can have on their brand. We’ve been able to introduce design to smaller companies in tiny towns that have had the D.E.Y. (Do Everything Yourself) mentality.
Here is an example of work we’ve done that was under-billed: The mind-bandit t-shirts we did, you can see them on our work page , was billed for $300. Five t-shirts for 300 bucks — incredibly low. The client was an awesome girl, still in high school, in Charleston, SC. She asked if we could help her start a line of clothing to sell to some of the local board shops around her town. We were stoked by her entrepreneurial spirit and the style of tees she wanted. So we took the job and had a great time working on it. We made a stop in SC and her family let us stay with them while we were there. Amazing people! Do you really believe we stole this work from any designers? Do you really think this means we don’t value our work?
If you’ve been able to read down this far and you can remember back to when you started freelancing, did you ever do work that you felt was under-billed for whatever reason? What % of your work would you say was under-billed, if any?
Okay, one last thing, Nate Voss we don’t care about your comic. We get that it was just a joke. But if you are going to continue to make nonsense claims about us, please spend more than 2 minutes talking to us. Do a little research, especially when you have such a large audience.