I have a ton of work to do this morning. Yet here I sit, knowing that I must say SOMETHING in regards to ISTOCKPHOTO’s announcement that they will begin selling logos (for lower than standard pricing) sometime in the near future. I’m not even going to bother editing this one because of time restrictions, so if there are grammatical errors on this post, I apologize.
Just last week, I wrote my blog article “We have become cheap whores” and it is still being circulated around the world. I think my timing was quite good because after yesterday’s ISTOCK announcement, I saw it circulate again and we have some huge protests taking place from designers on both sides of the fence.
On one side, is the uproar from people that have made a handsome living over the years in this industry and understand a brand’s worth. On the other, people that welcome the fact that there is possibly a market for whatever they can produce. As one “designer” wrote on the site’s message board…
“WOW, Just GREAT. Now I have a reason to learn illustrator as I have been wanting to for some time”.
After reading pages upon pages of comments from wannabe designers congratulating ISTOCK for this new endeavour, I realize that in the design world of today, true professional and passionate creatives have become the minority.
Now, here are some facts and questions as to why I sit on both sides of the fence on this idea.
I’ll start with the negative.
First is the most obvious. I charge my “friends and family” $2,000 for a logo.
For clients, I start at $2,500. And I have always been fairly busy. The reason I charge this rate is because I know a logo is NOT in the same category as clip art. In fact, I believe that a logo design is the hardest thing I can produce. I have been known to create award-winning ad concepts in one day, but for the new look of the dental office down the street, I like to give myself around 3 weeks. The client must be researched. I need to know what kind of clientele they are targeting. I need to know how they want to project themselves in the marketplace. I need to know many factors before I put pen to paper. And then I need to explore different avenues and ideas for the client. Often, a logo is born by making a move (while tinkering for days) with a design until I end up shouting “Eureka”. Then I do it all over again for the next concept. Is this whole process really only worth a few hundred dollars?
Remember when you were young, and you practiced your signature over, and over, and over again until you got it perfect? How much would you have paid to have somebody come up with that for you? What if I could give you a signature that got a WOW response everytime somebody saw it? How much would you have paid for that? This is what we do and why we charge more than a few hundred bucks for this creativity.
ISTOCK claims that you should submit your third round of logo revisions that the client rejected. This sounds great. Only there was probably a reason the client didn’t want it. In my mind, the fact that they paid me for my creative concepts means that by selling those concepts I have just cheated them. They paid me handsomely for the work, and now somebody gets to use what they threw away for a small fraction of the cost?
There are also possible trademark issues and the legal expenses that could be incurred to a company if they end up buying something that has been ripped off. You are a company owner, you buy a logo off the site, you create and pay for all the corporate materials to accommodate it, and the next thing you know, some designer in (insert country here) is suing you for ripping off their work. Seems the “designer” that submitted the logo to the site copied it. Now what?
Now we have the factor I fear most. The cheapening of what we do in the eyes of the public and the start-up company owner. “What do you mean you charge $2,500? My brother got a professional looking logo for $100 off one of those sites”. Our service will now be a much harder sell.
Here is why I like the ISTOCK logo idea…
I have created dozens of logos over the years. My clients generally get a minimum of 3 concepts. Sometimes, I give them more. So, lets say I have created 30 logos over the course of my career…that means I would have around 100 designs to submit to ISTOCK. Let’s say I tell ISTOCK to sell them at a maximum rate of $800 each. I get 50% of that (according to what I have read). $400 x 100 = $40,000.
$40,000 and I don’t have to do a damn thing. Like my ISTOCK photo uploads, I’ve already created them and they were just collecting dust anyway. Have I hurt professional photographers with my photo uploads? For one thing, unlike “designers” that will submit logos, I never claimed to be a professional photographer. This is where the difference lies. If my photo has some grain to it, the one downloading it takes that chance. What you see is what you get. As a professional Art Director, I have still hired my fair share of professional photographers for different photo shoots and I have still bought high-end photographs in the $2,500 range for some of my clients. I’m sure logo designs will work the same way.
If you are looking for a professional design, hire a professional. If you are looking for something to “make do”, go ahead and download from ISTOCK. Just don’t be upset when it comes around to bite you in the behind down the road.
What I find most interesting is that ISTOCK sells photos to designers and art directors like myself. Now, they are going to hurt the business of the very people they rely on to buy their photographs. I believe this is called "biting the hand that feeds you".
Here is my take. Sell it for what it is. There should be a biography beside every one of the logo designs on who is submitting them. If somebody (like myself) has an impressive background, qualifications, and numerous awards for their work, they should be allowed to price their designs at whatever they see fit. I may not sell as many designs but I am okay with that. Hopefully companies looking at my work will see that I took the time to create what they are buying. Not that I whipped something together to put a few dollars in my pocket. An amateur with no professional background should not be worth the same rate.
In the end, if the world changes, you can fight it or you can go along with it. I’m still undecided on this one. One thing I do know is this…
I may be a whore, but as I’ve said before, I’m not a cheap one.