Design Dilemma

Design questions and concerns from our community, answered by our resident expert.

Design Dilemma / 26 Aug 2013

Design Dilemma: Retirement Planning for the Freelance Designer

Daniel A. writes: I’ve come to realize that I can never afford to retire and I’m scared! I worked some staff positions for about half my career and I have nothing to show for it. Two IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts, usually set up by your employer) are gone.

Creatives are not great financial geniuses. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s the most necessary part of surviving as a creative, as well as a person. Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Design Dilemma / 19 Aug 2013

Design Dilemma: Should You Charge a Family Member for Design Work?

David L. writes: I’d like to know where I stand on a possible upcoming dilemma should the worst happen. I created a completely original piece, even hand drawing the letterforms, used for the company name. The first use of the logo was on a business card (which I also designed). It was later printed on a banner for a trade show and T-shirts. Since then, a website has been created (which I also developed), and print ads for nationally-published industry magazines (which I have also created… 3 in total).

Design Dilemma / 18 Jul 2013

Design Dilemma: The No-Win Magazine Startup Situation

Sandra G. writes:  A startup approached me to do all their graphics (the owner says I’ll be their creative director) and I am getting paid, so it’s not the usual “great-opportunity-do-it-for-free,” but the owner is… well… an idiot. He has these ideas that make no sense, unreal expectations and although I made it clear what I would do for what I’m being paid (30% up front, 30% after all the material is approved and the rest once everything is at the printer), he keeps adding things I have to do. How do I protect myself from further growing responsibilities?

This email started a two-month back and forth between Sandra and me, so it gets even more interesting. Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Design Dilemma / 10 Jul 2013

Design Dilemma: Negotiating Logo Copyright Issues

Stayce L. writes:  My client, whom I’ve worked with for many years, is doing her own logo design, but wants me to do a sketch of their business ‘mascot’ that will be included in the design. The sketch would be a significant part of the logo. How should I handle the fee/rights in this situation?

I was asked to look into this question posted on the LinkedIn Graphic Artists Guild group and weigh in with other designers. Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Design Dilemma / 26 Jun 2013

Design Dilemma: Do You Invoice for Everything?

Bill B. writes:  A client asked why I was charging for small things that he thinks only took a few minutes. He thought I was being “cheap” and not “valuing the professional relationship (we) have.” I feel it all adds up to more than an hour but I’m a bit afraid of insisting on getting paid for everything I do. Am I wrong?

That’s a good question and one many designers ask. I’m going to use some answers people wrote on a similar question posted on the LinkedIn Graphic Artists Guild group. Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Design Dilemma / 12 Jun 2013

Design Dilemma: Which Is Better — Staff or Freelance?

Jill K. writes: I’m graduating art school (yay!) and can’t decide if I should freelance or take a staff position. Which one is better?

Well, congratulations, Jill! I’m guessing none of your teachers discussed the possibilities of a future in the industry. Yet another art school fail. But, the question is valid although you may not have a choice as a new graduate. Let me go over the strengths of each, as well as the pitfalls, and discuss what you will find are your immediate options.

Design Dilemma / 28 May 2013

Design Dilemma: How Do I Fire a Client… Legally?

Sebastian M. writes: My client has turned my latest project into a nightmare. At this point, I just want to walk away but I’m afraid they’ll sue me for ruining the project, which has a ridiculous deadline (although they keep delaying it with change after change and all for a flat fee)! How do I get out of this clean and legally?

This is a common problem (just glance at some of the things clients demand on Clients From Hell) and most designers just suffer through and swear they will walk out the next time it happens… but rarely do. There are, however certain things you can do to end a project cleanly and not worry about retaliation. Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Design Dilemma / 15 May 2013

Design Dilemma: Dealing With Professional Jealousy

Diane L. Writes: I can’t help but feel jealous of other designers. I feel like they’re better designers, they have better clients, they’ll become famous and I’ll be a nobody forever. Is that wrong?

Yes, Diane, it’s wrong, but human. It’s not a feeling that is limited to just designers but it’s something you really need to overcome. Maybe some real truths about the design industry will help you see that jealousy is not only unwarranted but is getting in the way of your own success. Hmmmm, where do I start? Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Design Dilemma / 23 Apr 2013

Design Dilemma: Communicating Design to Non-Creatives

Omar G. Writes: My boss is impossible to read and I feel like I have to be a mind reader to come up with a design he likes. He blames me for not being able to please him, and I feel ill every time I get a new project from him. Should I just look for a new job? I like my coworkers and the company but my boss is crazy!

Omar, this is a very common problem but one of the easiest to fix. Let me relate a story about one of my experiences then, after feeling a little unwell from the memories of how tense this situation can be, I’ll can explain how to please your boss!

Design Dilemma / 2 Apr 2013

Design Dilemma: Why a Contract Is Always Necessary!

Join us as we delve into our first “Design Dilemma”, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Jody L. Writes: I have a simple logo project that should have taken a week and because of changes and indecision on the part of the client, it became two months of hell. Now the client is refusing to pay for changes. I delivered the logo and the client has already printed it. I don’t have a contract or anything. What can I do to get paid the full amount and for the changes?