Recently a panicked beginning design student who had landed a freelance design job came to me full of questions about working terms, procedures and rates. This student had no prior experience in industry and no knowledge about these topics. He was concerned about coming across as professional and didn't want to betray how green he was. Yet at the same time he wanted to protect his own interests as a creative service provider. After answering the student's questions (and trying to calm him down) I directed him to three great published sources for more information:
1. The Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Handbook (shown at right) This guide covers almost every type of design project and gives ranges for how much the service costs. Contracts for many situations are included. Best practices are explained. The "ethical" reference concerns topics like work-for-hire (considered unethical) in which a freelance designer is required to sign over copyright. This tome is a must-have for any independent graphic designer's shelf. It is regularly updated. The text is not available on the Web for free.
2. A Practical Guide to Working with Graphic Designers (by The Graphic Artists Guild of Albany) This guide provides answers for clients who have not hired creative services before. It points out many of the things that designers wish all clients knew. Some of the chapter titles are: "Just What Are Graphic Designers (and What Do They Do?)" and "How Do You Work Together" and "Sample Production Schedule." It is a great source for design students, recent graduates and clients. The writing in this booklet has a friendly style. It is available for free on the Web as a downloadable PDF.
3. Client's Guide to Design (brochure by The American Institute of Graphic Arts) If your client is a corporation, institution, advertising agency, investor or public relations firm this would be the guide to share. While guide #2 (above) seems geared to small businesses, the AIGA brochure is directed at larger businesses considering multi-phase communication projects. The text discusses the value of design in terms that are correct, but that might seem too heady for a small business owner who only needs a couple of ads or a refined logo and is not ready for a large-scale branding, PR or advertising update. The chapters include practical information about topics such as finding a designer, the design brief and budgeting. The guide is available for free on the AIGA Site.