Articles by Month: January 2014
We are totally obsessed with Jessica Hische.
Letterer, illustrator and self-proclaimed crazy cat lady, Jessica oozes talent, crafting simple characters into candy before our eyes.
We probably don’t need to share with you all of her accolades: Forbes 30 under 30 (cough, twice), Print New Visual Artist, ADC Young Gun, GDUSA Person to Watch. We probably don’t even need to list her notable clients (Wes Anderson, Penguin Books, The New York Times, Target, Nike, Samsung, et cetera!)
All we need to say is this:
and a little of this –
We were lucky enough to steal a few moments away from the busy life of this über talented designer.
Here’s what she had to say when asked about her fears, dreams and secrets to success:
Jessica on fear:
I think the thing that any artist fears most is that they’ll stop growing or that their growth will slow down to tortoise speed. I really have to push myself to try new things when clients are hiring me to do the same thing over and over again, and if I don’t have side projects in the works I can get really down on myself and how my work is progressing.
Jessica on dreams:
My biggest goal / dream is to be someone that helps other people do what they love. Down the line, more than being known as a good artist, I want to be known as being a nice, accessible person that did a lot to encourage others, build communities, and pump people up about their own talents and abilities.
Jessica on success:
Working hard and being nice. Even when I’m having a shitty day, I try not to take it out on other people or be a toxic person. I think being optimistic and having a good attitude gets you farther in life than talent, though you do have to have a good work ethic as well.
New Templates All for You!
Hello again from your friends at Mockup Everything! We’re here, as always, to help you avoid design disaster like this:
We are back again with a new template release for all of our Mockup Everything Pro subscribers!
What’s that, you say? Not yet a Pro subscriber? Don’t worry! Free templates are available for your use any day, any time. And you’re always welcome to give our Pro subscription a go with a 7 day, free trial here.
Here are January’s releases! Thanks to our loyal Pro subscribers, some of whom suggested a few of this month’s templates.
- Skateboard, version 2
- Flat Billed Snapback Hat
- Men’s Ribbed Tank (Flat Front)
- Youth T-Shirt (Flat Front)
- Men’s Underwear (Front and Back versions)
- Messenger Bag
- Men’s Long Sleeved Polo
- Hockey Jersey (Ghosted Front)
We love suggestions! Please send your idea(s) over to Heather at [email protected].
Skateboard (Version 2)
Flat Billed Snapback Hat
Men’s Ribbed Tank
Men’s Underwear, Front and Back versions
Men’s Long Sleeved Polo
Hockey Jersey (Ghosted Front)
What Are You Waiting For?
Login to Mockup Everything NOW to check out the new templates and start showcasing your super cool designs.
A These Are Things Tutorial:
Flip through your favorite newspaper or magazine and you’re bound to find a lot more than just words on a page. Alongside many articles, you’ll find art that helps to illuminate key concepts from the text. These pieces are called editorial illustrations.
From tiny spot illustrations to multiple page spreads, these informative works of art are sprinkled throughout each issue. Political cartoons are a classic example of editorial illustrations, but today’s publications use the work of contemporary artists to visually interpret a wide range of topics.
As editorial illustrators, our job is to create an engaging visual that both supports and explains the accompanying text copy. A successful piece carefully balances the art director’s vision with our own ideas, all while clearly communicating the article’s core idea to the reader.
These projects an exercise in creative problem solving. From the super-quick turnaround to the varied subject matter, each assignment is a new visual puzzle for us to solve.
Today, we’re going show you how we created an editorial illustration for Southwest Airlines’ in-flight magazine, Spirit. We’ll walk you through the entire illustration process, from our first client conversation to seeing our work in print.
Ready? Let’s get started!
1. Discussion & Research
Each editorial illustration is a collaboration between the client and the artist, so the first step of every project is to have a conference with the magazine’s art director.
First, we discuss the topic of the piece. We’ll be creating art to accompany an article about four business tips. We’re given a preliminary page layout along with rough copy to refer to during the design process.
Next, we talk about the creative direction of the piece. After conferencing with the art director, we’re given some specific guidelines. The piece will consist of four individual illustrations, each mirroring the tall, elongated shape of the four existing columns on the page. The art director also has a fun idea: to model each individual illustration after a classic motivational poster, like these. This information, along with the article itself, gives us a great starting point as we begin the process.
2. Initial Sketch
It’s time to start drawing! Since the “motivational poster” concept for this piece is already set, our goal is to come up with one solid sketch to present to the client. For projects that are more open-ended, we’ll usually come up with 3-5 different concepts during the sketch phase.
Working with the actual page layout as our guide, we use a Cintiq 13HD pen display to start laying down rough ideas for each component of the illustration in Adobe Photoshop. Using a pen display allows us to work directly inside the page layout, ensuring that our sketches are drawn at the correct size and proportion. For a more budget-friendly option, simply print the page layout on paper and use it as a template with tracing paper.
After working through a number of ideas for each individual poster, we land on this sketch as our initial concept. Each poster visually depicts the concepts of teamwork, innovation, preparation, and fairness. The article talks about the benefits and disadvantages of each business concept, so each poster will show an example of the idea both working and not working.
3. Revised Sketch
Before submitting the sketch to our client, we sit down and review our work. At this stage, our primary goal is to create a piece that is both visually and conceptually strong.
During our internal review, we notice that two of the four “poster” concepts involve hands. We like that the hands introduce a human element without showing a face. Incorporating hands into all four posters also creates continuity throughout the entire piece.
We revise the drawing to reflect our new and improved concept. Each poster now feels more similar in complexity and is visually easier to read. Once we’re happy with the sketch, we paint in a few layers of gray to explore the value structure of the piece and help the client envision the final piece.
4. Client Feedback & Revisions
Next, we send our sketch off to the client for review. The feedback is positive. We’re on the right track! The magazine’s art director has a suggestion for the first poster. Instead of drawing pointing fingers, what if we create a network of intertwining handshakes to represent the benefits (and pitfalls) of teamwork? We love the idea, so we hit the drawing board to create a new sketch for the first poster before we move on to the linework stage.
Once the revised sketch is approved, it’s time to turn our rough drawing into a finished illustration. Using the sketch as a guide, we begin to draw individual elements in Adobe Illustrator. Using many of the standard shape tools coupled with the Pathfinder palette and pen tool, we begin crafting geometric hands, lightbulbs, and other items.
Where our sketching process is fluid and loose, the linework stage is methodical and meticulous. It’s a balancing act of capturing the energy of the initial sketch while cleaning it up for it’s final form.
With the linework completed, we begin to add color. In this case, the client had a rough color palette to work with, so we jumped right in and started applying color. With other projects, choosing colors is up to us, so we’ll typically do a few exploratory color studies before deciding on a final color scheme.
You’ll notice that some of the design elements changed at this stage. When we start working with color, we almost always find a few things that can be improved upon from our first pass at the linework. In this case, we changed the positioning of the lightbulb hands, added some editing marks to the papers, and drew some fun trophies to go with the medals.
After the color is finished and we’ve made our final tweaks to the design, we jump into Photoshop to add our signature texture treatment. This final step adds dimension, contrast, and interest to the flat vector artwork.
To bring our vector art in from Illustrator, we copy and paste major element groups into a new Photoshop document as Smart Objects. Next, we use various selection tools to isolate individual colors. Finally, we use a dissolve brush, multiplied layers, and our Cintiq pen display to paint in areas of shaded color.
Here’s a before and after view of our texture treatment. The effect is subtle, but goes a long way towards making the piece feel finished.
8. Submit & Wait
With the texture treatment complete, we export a high-resolution version from Photoshop and send it off to the magazine, where they’ll drop it into the page layout along with the final text copy.
Now comes the hard part: waiting! Editorial deadlines tend to be a few months in advance of the publication date, so it’ll be a while before we get to see our masterpiece in print. Eventually, when the day comes, we run to our favorite bookstore, crack open that new issue, and see our work right there on the page. There’s nothing quite like it!
Editors note: If you haven’t yet, we highly suggest you watch their highly acclaimed talk from WMC Fest!
More These Are Things | Shop | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | These Are Things Instagram | Jen’s Instagram | Omar’s Instagram
On the GoMediaZine:
WMC Fest 4 Speaker Videos Release
An Interview with Jen Adrion & Omar Noory of These Are Things
Episode 9: Myths of Owning Your Own Design Firm plus an Interview with These Are Things
Inspired by Music
I do a lot of website design work, but I often find that looking at different mediums can help to fuel my creativity a bit further. I find that looking at product packaging design, physical print design and posters can all help to improve how I look at and work on design for the web, and helps me to come at design decisions from a different angle. Album artwork is one of my favourite things to look at when I need to give my creativity a boost. There are so many different design directions that you can go in when crafting an album cover that it’s refreshing to see how different artists have done it.
I’ve collected some of my favourite examples of stunning, unusual and interesting album artwork to help get you inspired too. Some of these pieces are genuine covers, while others are fan made reimaginings – but in each case they’ve been designed with great care and attention, and each one has been designed to suit the mood and theme of the music.
Have you found any examples of creative, inspiring and interesting album artwork that you’d like to share? Let us know what you’ve found in the comments!
Disclaimer: No clients were harmed during the making of this video! – We love our clients!
Do clients ask you to “MAKE IT BIGGER?”
See the very first Sakeachi video here. It involves roller skating, tight pants and choreography. We warned you.
| Ever had a “rough” client experience?
Tell us about your experience in the comments and then, please share our video! |
Round 2 Released!
In the chill of the Cleveland winter, we’re riding on a wave of Go Media’s WMC Fest 4 Speaker videos to keep us warm. Hot chocolate cheers to the release of the next five! Speeches include the talents of Kern & Burn, Jacqui Oakley, Nick Disabato, Jon Contino and Grace Dobush.
Watch them here or for free on our vimeo channel!
Kern & Burn: Quit Jobs. Start Projects
Jacqui Oakley: The Substance of Style
Nick Disabato: Too Uncomfortably Personal to Share at a Professional Conference
Jon Contino: The Rise of the Underdog
Grace Dobush: The Sound of One Man Networking
What did you think? Which video was your favorite? Who moved you? Why? Tell us in the comments below!
We slept with “How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way” underneath our pillows.
We’re responsible for 41,052 of these 141,053 some YouTube views.
Needless to say, we love comics. They’re a part of who we are as illustrators here at Go Media.
We have a habit of collecting comic book illustrations that will inspire our own future work.
On our Pinterest board, you’ll find a whole board dedicated to these illustrations. Follow us!
We’ve also published a couple of posts about this very subject:
Comic Book Style Graphic Design by William Beachy
Some Like It Dirty: Comic Book Inking and Coloring Tutorial by Alex Singleton
Now onto the Show!
Need a hand crafting some superheroes for your own designs?
Our Superheroes Vector Pack is available now on the Arsenal!
Superheroes is the skilled handiwork of master illustrator William Beachy & includes 10 easily customizable superhero templates in dynamic, foreshortened poses, plus 24 speech bubbles. Add your own costumes or use them just the way they are!
Graphic Design Podcast: Welcome to the Go Media Podcast!
Our monthly Ohio based graphic design podcast here at Go Media is dedicated to tips, tricks, and tales of the business-minded artist and designer. How can you be more profitable? More creatively fulfilled? It’s our way of letting you inside our studio to learn about the ups and downs we face here at Go Media and how we’re dealing with them.
Our podcast archives can also be found on Soundcloud!
Episode 1: What to Do When the Well Runs Dry
Episode 2: The Commoditization of Design and a Good Customer Experience
Episode 3: The Role of a Designer
Episode 4: Pricing, Haters, and Bad Clients
Episode 5: 2012 Year in Review
Episode 6: Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 2013 Kick Off!
Episode 7: How to Close Design Leads
Episode 8: Interview with WMC Fest Speaker Troy DeShano
Episode 9: Myths of Owning Your Own Design Firm plus an Interview with These Are Things
Episode 10: An Interview with Jess and Tim from Kern and Burn
Episode 11: An Interview with Mark Brickey from Adventures in Design
Episode 12: An Interview with Brandon Rike
Episode 13: Interviews with Nick Disabato and Caroline Moore
Episode 14: An Interview with Adam Garcia
Episode 15: An Interview with Jon Contino, WMC Fest Is This Week!
Episode 16: Recovering from WMC and Launching Drawn to Business
Episode 17: Advice for a Graphic Design Student
Episode 18: What We’re Thankful for in 2013
Episode 19: Drawn to Business Q&A with Bill Beachy
Episode 20: Our 2013 Year in Review
Episode 21: Why Should Designers Use a CRM?
Episode 22: Surviving As A Designer with OKPants
Episode 23: A Conversation with Mike Jones from CreativeSouth.com
It’s a new year. A great time to look at what’s been working for us here at Go Media, as well as what hasn’t worked and what we’ll be doing better in the year to come.
We do this in the most accurate, meaningful way possible, one that benefits us ten-fold.
Ready for the simple, yet essential key to Go Media‘s success?
We track our metrics.
What, you say, are metrics?
As Bill Beachy describes in Drawn to Business, metrics, are “key measurable components of your business” tracked by way of a dashboard (i.e. spreadsheet).
They are imperative.
Think of it like this, Bill visualizes, “when you drive your car down the street, how do you know how fast you’re going? You look at your dashboard—a collection of gauges that give you the most important pieces of information you need while driving your car. The speedometer tells you how fast you’re going. The odometer tells you how far you’ve gone. The gas gauge tells you how much fuel you have left. These readings such as miles per hour, fullness of your gas tank and total miles are known as “metrics.” Can you imagine driving your car without a dashboard? It’s certainly possible. But you might get a speeding ticket, run out of gas or burn your engine up because you didn’t change the oil on time.”
“Running your design firm without metrics and a dashboard is very much like driving a car without one. It’s possible, but sooner or later you’re going to get yourself into trouble. Not only will metrics and a dashboard keep you out of trouble, they’ll also let you know when you’re doing well, when you need to hire more staff or when you deserve a bonus!”
They will drive your decision making.
“Tracking your metrics over time will also give you valuable information that will drive your decision-making. Imagine if you started tracking the realized rate of all your design projects. And through this tracking you learned that your realized rate on branding projects is $200/hour, but your realized rate on web projects was $75/hour. What might you conclude with this information? Maybe you want to sell more branding work. Or, maybe you realize that you’re overestimating your branding work and under estimating the workload for website development. The point is, you can’t make informed decisions about your company if you don’t have the data to base decisions on. This data comes from your metrics and dashboards.”
They can be kept simple.
Once you have your system down, tracking your metrics can be quite simple. Like anything else, start small, go slow and build as you see fit. As Bill notes, “At Go Media, the data recording that goes into our metrics is running every day. Employees are logging hours, invoices are being made in QuickBooks, sales leads come in through our website, etc. But we only gather this data and reflect on it once a month. We have a spreadsheet where we drop the data at the conclusion of each month. This way we can look back at the month-by-month performance of our company.”
What do I track?
Here are some examples of what we track, how we track them and what’s important about them:
Bank Balance: it’s as simple as looking at your bank statement!
Sales: this is the monthly total of cash in the door. We use our bank statement for this one too. Go Media runs our books on a cash-basis accounting method: we only count actual dollars in and out the door as real.
Expenses: again, this is real basic stuff. We pull this number off our bank statement: dollars out the door.
Net profit/loss: sales minus expenses. Did we lose money or make money this past month?
Leads: how many new inquires did we get? It’s also critical that you track where these leads are coming from. Ask your customers!
Proposals sent: we track both the number of proposals we send out and the total dollar amount. Over time we’ve been able to calculate our “close rate.”
Hours networking: this is a metric specific to the sales team. I’ve learned over the years how important it is to get out from behind your desk.
Stress level: how are we feeling? Don’t forget that you are not a machine. Keeping track of your team’s stress levels will let you know in advance if someone needs help.
Web traffic: we keep an eye on all the website traffic to our different properties. For this we use Google Analytics.
Project realized rate: your realized rate is the hourly amount you actually earn on a project. Calculating this is very simple. It’s the amount paid divided by hours worked.
Estimation accuracy: estimate accuracy is closely related to project realized rate. Except in this case we are only looking at hours. Did the hours estimated for the project match the hours projected? To calculate this, we divide the hours estimated by the hours worked.
These are the main metrics we track. Find what works best for you and your company. Remember, as Bill reminds, “the more information you gather over time on your company, the more informed your decisions will be. And as I stress over and over, you need to be making decisions based on knowledge. You need to gather your facts, gather your customer feedback, gather staff input and then decide how to move your company forward. Your dashboards are an important part of that.”
We want to know…do you track metrics? What do you track? Are we missing something? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Learn to Code Quick Tips
Where, then, do you begin? We asked our very own front-end developer and designer guru, Bryan Garvin, as well as friend of Go Media, web designer, developer, and founder of Girl Develop It, Jen Myers, for some tricks of the trade.
1. Overcome your fear.
2. Fight stereotypes.
Let’s face it, as Jen notes, “Women are indeed the minority in the coding world, but a lot of good people are working to change that.”
How do we go about it? “The easiest way to find a supportive learning environment,” she recommends, ” is to locate one of the many organizations who offer classes aimed at women. Or, start an organization like that yourself. Three years ago, I wanted something like this and I ended up founding the Columbus, Ohio chapter of Girl Develop It, which now has sixteen chapters in different cities and more on the way. There is also RailsGirls, Railsbridge, Ladies Who Code and Women Who Code. You can also start out doing some classes online at a place like Skillcrush.
“There are also many individual women working in code today who care about improving the coding landscape and bringing more women in. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice or mentorship. We’re all here to help each other.”
3. Recognize Life Beyond Dreamweaver.
“Many schools still push using Dreamweaver,” notes Go Media front-end developer and designer Bryan Garvin, “And sadly, a lot of those schools are using outdated versions of that software. This industry is always evolving, so attaching yourself to something that is static in time won’t give you the best path to continuing to evolve with the world around you.”
“Dreamweaver looks nice and gives you the “easy” WYSIWYG editor. I started there, so I’m not going to tell you not to open it up, play with it, and see what it does. But, at the end of the day, spending the time to learn the code instead of learning the software that creates the code will give you the ability to design and develop regardless of what device you’re working on. And, that will also give you the ability to continue to code and work with new technologies and techniques, which may or may not be supported by Dreamweaver six months after you bought it.
Go Media is primarily a PC-based company and we code all of our sites using Notepad++.
4. Learn Responsive Design, it’s the future of web coding.
“We design our sites to be responsive, therefore accessible and usable on any device. During the early wireframe/prototype phase, we walk a client through how the responsive framework we use reacts to the changing width of the viewport. We organize and prioritize every content area on a page with a client and help them understand that on a phone, people can still access all of their content, even if it looks “different” than on their PC.”
“You can read the pros and cons to moving to responsive designs and frameworks through sites like Smashing Magazine, Mashable, A List Apart, and even Forbes. But the fact is, more and more people are using devices other than a 1600px-wide monitor. And more and more people aren’t going to sites to look at your graphic design. They’re there for content. You aren’t just designing something to look at and hang on their wall. You’re designing something people can use, interact with, and experience while consuming the content that is within your design. Your design is a piece of the puzzle and should always help a user get where they want/need to go, not distract and take precedence.”
5. Create and Team up on Side Projects.
Jen has been successful learning by way of side projects. “Usually the way I have learned, and continue to learn, new things related to coding is to create side projects that interest and engage me – and that I don’t know how to do. For example, when I wanted to learn more about building applications from back to front in Rails, I came up with an idea for an application I wanted, namely, an application to track articles and blog posts I was writing. Then the learning happened naturally as I worked to figure out how to make it and because I was excited about what I was making, I was able to stick with it. Many years ago, I first started learning HTML and CSS by creating my own personal website and that has remained my playground for testing out new skills.”
“Another trick for designers to learn code is to team up with a developer on their own side project. Most developers are eager for design help and are willing to mentor, especially in exchange for some design advice for themselves.”
6. Don’t Rely On What You’re Being Taught Now.
“One last bit of advice is to not depend on, or expect that what you’re learning in school right now will be how you’re designing and developing five years from now. Don’t be afraid to step out of that comfort zone, get cuddly with Google search, and keep your mind open to new techniques, resources, trends, and technologies. There is something new in our industry every other day. And the beauty of our industry, a lot of that ongoing education is freely available and shared from one designer and developer, to another. So get involved and get to work.”
Jen sums it up best, “Keep in mind that the world needs more coders and coders need more people with new perspectives. Not only can coding offer opportunities and benefits for your own life, you can bring experience and qualities to coding that will make it a better, more productive environment for everyone.”
Give Team Treehouse a try!
Designers: Learn To Code: Here’s How to Start! on Fast Co. Design by Scott Sullivan
10 Places Where Anyone Can Learn to Code on TED Blog by Jessica Gross
The 7 Best Ways to Learn to Code on Venture Beat by Devindra Hardawar
Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Learning How to Code on Medium by Cecily Carver
Please listen when we say this:
Learn to code.
But wait, you say, your heart pounding out of your chest: I am a designer.
I draw; I create.
I need not code.
Well my friends, listen here and listen good.
We receive resumes every day from students just like you who do what you do: Branding! Print! Illustration! Typography, too.
And, we know, we know.
Sure, it’s your portfolio that stands above the rest.
But in reality, here’s what you have to realize:
Print/Brand designers are a dime a dozen.
Even if you did a brand refresh for Apple and hand-lettered your thesis in chalk on the Great Wall, don’t be naive enough to think that code is better left to programmers.
One of the biggest mistakes we see in young designers is their sacrifice of design decisions simply due to a lack of understanding of code.
They’ll come to us with one design and deliver quite another. The reason, we ask as they sweat and stammer, is quite apparent.
When it comes time to code the web page, making rounded corners on your boxes is far more difficult than just having sharp 90 degree corners… so, instead of honoring their design, they just scrapped the rounded corners because they don’t know the code.
Do not fear the mystical world of unicorns and rainbows.
Embrace the concept: if you can design it, you can code it. The sky really is the limit.
This will assure that you are well-rounded and competitive in a fierce job market.
Having all of these skills in your backpocket will make you a better, more well-rounded, capable designer. And that’s what we love to see here at Go Media.
P.S. Read on for Part 2: Learn to Code: Tips for Designers
In this episode, Jeff, Bryan, and Bill get together to talk about the successes and failures at Go Media in 2013.
Listen to the Podcast
Sponsors of this Episode
This episode was brought to you by The Arsenal. V3 has been soft launched. Lots of bugs, but a good look into how the Arsenal will look and feel as we move forward. For more information on that, go to Arsenal.GoMedia.us, take a test drive, and if you run into any bugs, let us know. Also sign up for the Arsenal newsletter to get early dibs on upcoming deals and more information about the products we’re releasing.
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The YouTube feed is raw and unedited.
Heather was also taking pictures for the Go Media Instagram:
Interested in sponsoring the Go Media podcast, either episodically or exclusively? Well, hit us up at [email protected] if you are interested in advertising your business, project, event, or portfolio.
What Do You Think?
We want to hear what you think about the latest episode of our podcast and what topics you would like to see covered in upcoming episodes. Comment below with your suggestions.
Join Us Live
This episode was recorded live on Monday, January 13th, 2014 at gomediazine.com/live. Next recording will be Monday, February 10th, 2014.
Ready for More?
Keep learning and listening to more Go Media podcasts!
Earn Your Worth!
To meet the author and learn more about pricing, contracts, collections and more, attend our design retreat: WMC: Off-The-Grid this October 5 -7th. For more information, head to wmcfest.com.
Over the years, we’ve had so many designers come to us and ask, “What should I charge?” Back in 2007, Bill shared A Designer’s Guide to Pricing, one of our most popular posts to date, which shares many of his thoughts on this subject. Since then, our Cleveland Design Firm has learned a lot more about pricing. And as always, we’re happy to share our latest insights with you.
Graphic Design Pricing Guidelines
Determining your fees can be tricky. There’s a fine line between too much and too little. You want to be competitively priced while also ensuring profitability (we are in business to make money, right?).
Choose Flat or Hourly Billing.
The first step in determining your fee structure is deciding whether a flat rate or an hourly billing system is right for your business.
Here at Go Media, we work with hourly billing (although we used to work on flat rates). As Bill notes in Drawn to Business, “At its core, our system is hourly billing. I call it “hourly billing with caveats.” If a client asks us: “How do you derive your estimates?” we will tell them: “It’s based on hourly billing rates.” But we no longer give the client a line-by-line breakdown of how we’re adding up those hours. We also stopped showing them the hours we’ve actually worked, which we used to do. Sometimes we eat hours. Clients don’t like it when you go over budget. If a client stays “on scope” and we just go over budget because we misquoted, or the client was a little pickier than we expected, we will eat a number of hours to try and close out the project on budget. I think we would be willing to eat up to 20% of the project’s hours to try and come in on budget. This puts a little pressure back on us to work efficiently and to quote accurately. However, we make sure to let our client know the value they’re getting. We’ll trumpet the fact that they just got X hours of free design services so we could stay on budget. However, if the client is going WAY over budget, then we start billing them again, but at our hourly rate.”
In Drawn to Business, Bill stresses the importance of communicating policies before the project kicks off (even though most clients nod their head and tend to ignore the information). Putting things in writing always helps! At Go Media, that statement looks something like this:
Our quote is an estimate based on an hourly rate. If your project goes over budget we will be billing you at $XX dollars an hour. We are going to work very hard to stay on budget. Our quoting is typically very accurate, but you need to be aware of this policy.’
Now, this isn’t to say that Go Media wouldn’t work with a client who wants a flat rate. Should this be the case, we would be sure to discuss all of the project details and manage expectations at the onset.
Flat Rate Billing
Some of our designer friends who freelance prefer to bill based on a flat rate system.
Here’s a few words from Jennifer Cirpici on her billing system, “I don’t often work with hourly rates, I mostly work with fixed prices. I’ve worked with hourly rates in the past and it usually scares the clients off. They often ask for more hours to put into and in the end it’s a ridiculous amount of money I have to ask them to pay. The amount you know they won’t pay anyway. In my fixed prices I include the amount of rounds of feedback we would do, the copyright (will it be a year, two years, or a buy out? Will it be for a magazine, commercial or the web? Will they sell it to someone else? etc.), how long I think I’ll work on it and the deadline. It’s a different price when they want a project done within 24 hours or when they want me to have a lot of freedom and the deadline is in 3 months.”
Lenny Terenzi, also a freelancer, notes, “I always bill flat rate. It seems to make it easier for my clients to digest. If I go over, I go over and know to charge more next time. If I go under by a large amount I adjust the final bill to reflect that though by the time all phone calls, and email and project management and file prep and all the little things that so many people do not account for come into play, I rarely am under by much.”
On the other hand, Scott Fuller says his billing practices can ebb and flow based on the client. “I want to know, do they need X amount of options? What’s their budget? Will they still be around to pay me?”
He notes, “I’m not above charging a ‘Put Up With You’ fee. It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into.”
Establish your rates.
At Go Media, we have different rates depending on the service. We design at $100/hour, develop at $125 and consult at $65/hour.
Queens based designer Sophia Chang structures her rates the same way, but also takes into account the type of client – “I have different pricing for graphic design, web design, illustration, consulting, project management, etc. It all varies on the client. If it’s a small start-up or big corporate gig. I can say the general hourly range is between $80-200.”
North Carolina based designer, Lenny Terenzi of Hey Monkey! Design, shares information on his fee breakdown, “Right now I calculate my project rates at $75 per hour. When I do proposals I give certain categories flat rate amounts. So for a $2,000 print / logo design project it may be:
– $300 Project Management
– $700 Creative Concepting (wireframe, sketches, etc.)
– $700 Graphic Design
– $300 File Prep and Delivery (small style guide, file formats etc.)”
Freelance designer Mike Jones, based out of Columbus, Georgia, charges between $88 and $107 per hour.
Know when to raise your rates.
Bill Beachy nailed it in his new book, Drawn to Business, “The easiest way to know when to raise your rates is when you’re slammed. If your design schedule is booked solid for three months and you have more requests coming in, then it’s probably time to raise your rates. This is a great way to discover your market value. Start with your rates low. Work hard until you’re slammed, raise your rates, repeat.”
Look for a payment upfront.
At Go Media, we like to collect a security deposit before we ‘kickoff’ any project. Our policy is 50% of the project total for those under $5,000 and 25% for those over $5,000.
Jennifer Cirpici operates close to the same, “If it is a paid commission, I’ll never work without getting paid upfront. It can be 30-50% (depends). It’s just a security that the client won’t easily go to another designer and that incase the client runs away, you haven’t begun working on something for nothing.”
Mike Jones, who asks for 50% upfront, notes that this is a non-refundable deposit. This, he finds, assures that his clients stick around through project completion. Another policy he holds to is a late fee; after 90 days, Mike adds 17% to the project cost.
Find what works for you.
Ah, negotiation – one of the most important business skills. There are countless books, seminars, webinars, etc. on the tips and techniques of negotiation. Straight from the Go Media sales team, here are a few things we’ve mastered through experience:
Play nice and stay calm. Remaining friendly while arguing for your side is critical for successful negotiation! Don’t insult a client (even if they have the most unrealistic or offensive demands). The last thing you want to do is damage a relationship or hinder repeat business.
Start high. Without being unreasonable, your first quote should be as high as possible. As Scott Fuller puts it, “Always start high. Always. You can always go down, but it’s very hard to negotiate your price up”.
Know your rock bottom. At Go Media, we know our break even price and keep that in mind while negotiating!
Know when to slow it down. As Bill learned in his Yale School of Management course and noted in a previous post, “If you’re caught unprepared for a negotiation or are feeling confused – then stop the negotiation, take some time and re-engage in the negotiation when you’ve had some time to gather your emotions and your thoughts.”
Take the emotion out of quoting – be objective!
This can be hard! It’s easy to make assumptions about a client’s budget and what they can, or can’t, afford and often times adjust numbers accordingly.
As Bill notes in Drawn to Business, “It’s easy to go either way on this one. Either you’re too empathetic, worrying about your client’s budget and artificially lowering your numbers to what you think they can afford, or, if you’re greedy, you’ll artificially raise the numbers to what you want to make.”
Over the years, we’ve found that breaking down projects into as many small pieces as possible, and quoting those independently, is the easiest and most accurate way to quote.
Being objective can be extremely difficult, but it ensures profitability in the long run!
Consider responsive pricing.
“It’s easy to discount projects to appease a client and hopefully get them to ‘bite’. But random discounting without any ‘method to the madness’ can be careless. Go Media utilizes what we call the ‘Responsive Pricing System’ which determines project minimums and the max percent discount we can offer a client based on how busy we are at any given time. The goal is to have price points that respond to the current workload,” notes Lauren Prebel, Account Services Manager at Go Media. Here’s a look into the Go Media Responsive Pricing System:
12 weeks or more, we offer no discounts and will only sell projects that are worth $5,000 or more.
Between 8–12 weeks then we’re willing to discount our rates by 20% and we’ll take any project worth $2,500 or more.
Between 4–8 weeks, we’re willing to discount our rates up to 40% and will take any project worth $1,000 or more.
Less than four weeks, we’re willing to discount our rates up to 50% and take any project worth $500 or more.
See Bill’s July 2013 post on the Responsive Pricing System for more insights!
Bust Bad Clients
Listen, no matter how savvy, in business, you’re going to ripped off. You have to learn how to recognize what we here at Go Media call busters, or bad clients. Once you recognize those bad clients, you must rid them from your life and business. They will only cause you headaches!
Here a few signs:
- They’re full of energy, pumping up your ego and offering you outlandish promises. They want you to do this one-small-thing before payment.
- They’ll sell you on being the business partner of your dreams. You guessed it: at the end of the day, you’re doing all of the work and they’re taking all of the money.
- They’ll play down the amount of work they need done, suggest it’s part of the current project. Sooner than later you’re in over your head. And out a whole lot of cash.
For more on identifying and avoiding bad clients head to Bill’s post on Beating Busters.
Stick to your guns.
Decide what your most important billing policies are and stick to them!
Other than the initial deposit required to ‘kickoff’ a project, Sarah Traxler, Go Media’s dedicated Project Manager, explains that our most important billing policy is the payment installment process we instituted in 2013. “At the beginning of every project, in addition to a detailed timeline, a client is given a payment schedule that identifies the dates and amount we will be billing along the course of the project. This method ensures there are no surprises regarding payment!”
Our installment documentation looks something like this:
12/15 – Payment Installment no. 1 of 4: $2,125
01/15 – Payment Installment no. 2 of 4: $2,125
02/14 – Payment Installment no. 3 of 4: $2,125
03/14 – Payment Installment no. 4 of 4: $2,125
Sarah says that this policy has really streamlined the billing process – “Whereas it previously took a long time to invoice and figure out what’s been paid, it hardly takes anytime at all now because everything has been calculated at the onset of the project. Of course, adjustments are needed here and there if a project is completed earlier or later than estimated, but that time is small in comparison to the time it used to take. It’s made things much clearer and more straightforward for the client, as well.”
Have confidence in your policies and stick to your guns!
Ultimately, remember to maintain fairness, stick to your billing policies and have the courage to let go of the clients waving red flags in your direction.
Sophia Chang’s last piece of advice? “Don’t undersell yourself. Know your worth, do the research. And be open to making mistakes and learning from them!”
Best of luck everyone!
Let’s keep the conversation going! What works for you? Where are you meeting challenges? What questions do you have?
Do you have more questions?
We know that this post did not answer every question you have about pricing.
Here are some more resources about pricing you can hit up:
- Our Start Here page
- the Graphic Designer’s Pricing Toolkit
- Drawn to Business eBook
- Drawn to Business Supplemental Content
- Drawn to Business Plus Package
You can also submit a story idea by writing to us here. Thanks everyone!
Lastly, make sure to check out our Arsenal Membership, which hooks you up with our huge product library for only $15 per month. Yes, seriously.
Cleveland is ‘On the Map’
Go Media proudly calls Cleveland home. Like so many lifelong residents and transplants alike, we revel in the cultural, architectural, and natural amenities our great city has to offer. We see potential in what some would call blight and we recognize opportunity for change and a prime climate for sustainable growth in our local economy.
We not only take great pride in our city, its richness and grit; we celebrate it.
Our annual video series, On the Map, features the people and places that make Cleveland a creative, culturally rich, and inspiring place to live and work. This year, the third annual series, spotlights four Cleveland neighborhoods and showcases the distinctive landmarks that make them unique. Viewers also get a behind the scenes look at the F*Sho, Cleveland’s contemporary furniture show, a visit to the tranquil Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and a day inside Momocho’s vibrant kitchen.
If you weren’t able to join us for the screening on December 6th, worry not. The videos are now available for your viewing pleasure below! Enjoy and let us know what you love most about Cleveland in the comments section!
Happy New Year from your friends over at Weapons of Mass Creation Fest!
Planning for this year’s event is underway, though we are still basking in the glow of WMC 2013.
We wanted to make sure you popped over to check out the awesome work that our friends over at Cellar Door Cleveland have done. They have just released the latest in their Weapons of Mass Creation: Disarmed series. Disarmed gives viewers an intimate peek into the words and work of our 2013 performers.
Jon Burgerman is not just an everyday artist. Armed with Amsterdam paints, Posca pens and Sharpies, Jon can be found at the spot where art and improvisation collide. On any given day, you can find Burgerman on the streets of New York City, doodling, drawing and delighting in art and life. Recent works including Hot Girls and Hot Dogs, Tumblr Girls, and I Want To Eat Myself illustrate a sense of humor and talent as sprawling as his imagination.
I chatted with Burgerman, of whom I am a huge fan, about life, craft and the adventure of art.
Comfort Kills Creativity
Burgerman recalls with fond memories his studies of Fine Art at University, where he was encouraged to create without limitation. Experimenting with different forms of media, Burgerman integrated performance based art into his vocabulary.
“When I graduated, laden with debt and little idea what I was going to do with my life, I started making a variety of work which had to be quick to make and cheap. Some of this work was performance based. As my art career started to pick up I dropped out of working with my friends on events and performances. I’ve always liked the immediacy of live work and it’s something I’ve retained through-out my career. I consider my murals and drawings live works and performances even if there’s not an audience around to see them. The artwork being a documentation of the creative act.”
“Recently, for a few years with my band Anxieteam and some works I’ve done on my own, I’ve purposely put live action and intervention into my practice. Live work, be it a performance, a mural, a talk, a workshop or a gig all require some degree of improvisation and fast reflexes, the great and awful thing about the ‘moment’, is not knowing what might happen next. This is equally good and bad for the performer and audience and invites a special degree of excitement to the event.
I think the live works sharpen these responses and and keep me ‘creatively fit’.”
Comfort is the killer of creativity!
Live works invite participation (although it can be unwelcome participation at times) and that connection can be really interesting. You can never really predict what people will come out with, and that can be an adventure all of its own. Comfort is the killer of creativity!”
“If I’m not having fun overall with a project, the project will no doubt suffer as a result. I can’t help that, it just shows in the work. When I’m inspired and have great energy the work benefits. I’m in a super lucky position where my work, my job is fun. I’m in that position because I tried as hard as I could to make it happen. There’s plenty of room for improvement, of course, but I want to have fun and live a fun life, as much is possible.”
“Play is a bit of a gamble. When you play you’re not 100% certain of the outcome. There’s parameters you have to go up against to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve, it could be a defined goal or just the act of playing. I have this in my work. When I draw there’s a number of limitations such as paper size, pen, ink, time, surface etc. I then do everything I can to achieve my invented goal. During the act of play obstacles may arise or unpredicted ‘ferret events’ may occur. Maybe you spill your paint, or someone calls your phone and interrupts you. Perhaps you run out of a certain colour, maybe you smudge a line, or the paper reacts to the ink in a certain way… Who knows, often it’s pretty subtle things, but they all influence the work, and you adapt and navigate around them. The game starts to change as you play it. I like playing, there’s no guarantee of a particular outcome, there’s always the chance of surprises and disappointments.”
Passion and play hasn’t come about easily, Burgerman admits. As with any career, there come challenges.
Don’t become an artist to earn money.
“The competition to be successful in the arts is really tough. You face many years without any sort of guaranteed income. And even if you get some sort of critical acclaim that doesn’t mean you’ll be financially any better off. So one hurdle is paying your way. Don’t become an artist to earn money.”
“It can be tough carrying on when you feel like you’re not advancing. I feel this all the time but the only solution is to keep going. You become stronger because of it. You have to push yourself. It’s exactly like exercising. Each time you have to go a little further or lift a little more weight to eventually push on to the next level.”
The reward for pushing is the way Burgerman feels every time pen or brush touches paper.
How does it feel, I asked? Burgerman answers quite vividly.
“The great Kurt Vonnegut wrote in a forward of one of his books that when he went swimming he felt beautiful, as opposed to when he was going about his day to day life. I think when I’m drawing and completely submerged within that process I feel weightless and transparent and happy. I cease to be a body, flesh and blood and grease and kneecaps, I feel like a lovely perfume emanating above a flower bed.”
Now that, my friends, is an adventure.
Jon’s Burgerman shares: Supplies I Use
Amsterdam paints – I use these for quick, fast painting and even have used them on walls and the pavement in Manhattan.
Edding – I like these little pens, perfect for stowing away in your pockets for drawings on the go.
Krink – Krink go on anything, leaving a heavy, thick, gooey trail where-ever they go. These are great, a bit stinky and come from Brooklyn.
Sharpie and Pilot felt pen – These are my go-to pens for drawing in my sketchbook. Nothing is better than writing with a fresh felt pen on a blank page. The sketchbook is the place where all my ideas are born.
Posca – It can be hard to find Posca pens in America, I shipped a whole box of them over with me from Europe when I moved here. The colours are flat and solid. I use Poscas in a lot of my work, including my project Tumblr Girls
I sketch in Muji plain paper sketchbooks and have done so for over 12 years now.