Or any kind of art, for that matter? (and by art I do not reffer only to the 6 or so arts, but to all human arts, from wine making, cooking, child teaching, hair cutting, client selling, football playing, anything that implies a degree of lifetime effort to be better and better at what we do).
Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.
“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”
So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the woman his work of art.
“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”
“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.
“B-b-but, why?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”
To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”
Another similar thing, this time a real fact, was James McNeill Whistler‘s (american-british painter) response to John Ruskin, a very respected art critic during the Whistler-Ruskin trial:
In 1878 Whistler sued the critic John Ruskin for libel after the critic condemned his painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (..)
At the trial, the lawyer for John Ruskin, cross examined Whistler, “Mr Whistler, tell me, how long did it take you to paint Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket? “Half a day.” replied Whistler. “So,” continued the lawyer, “you are charging two hundred guineas for half a day’s work?” “No.” replied Whistler. “For the experience of a life time.”
Next time you think about how much to ask for a job, for a project, for a part of your life experience, think well.
How much does a part of your life cost ? Designers are not janitors, paid by the hour for sweeping x number of hallways. Designers do not sell groceries. Even farmers (especially romanian ones) are underpaid, nobody thinks about how much effort and risk goes into growing one feeble carrot. Pulling it out of from the dirt may be worth just one buck, but how about the countless hours of care before ? Tracing a photo in 20 minutes, designing a logo in 2 hours, drawing a simple (but not simplistic) symbol in 10 seconds may look like only a ten-dollar effort, but how about the kilometers of lines drawn before, the countless tweakings of just one bezier point that doesn’t “look right”, that made that 10-second symbol possible ?
Nowadays people are fighting for the smallest price. Capitalism, they say. So hello, indian programmers, chinese workers, ukrainean web designers and so on. Just because these people can’t afford to ask for a normal price, but can afford to work for so little money because they live in cheap, under development countries, everybody rushes to use them, happy that they’ve just saved one hundred bucks. Quality is less important. Price is the supreme ruler.
Is it for free? Yes? Can I get it any cheaper than that? Then I’ll have five, please.
It’s all about respect, I think. And recognition.
Respect for the professional, for the one that chose to dedicate his/her life to doing just that, the thing you need now. Recognition for the value you receive. The value that will help you in being more succesful in your business, in being prettier, richer, stronger, healthier, happier or whatever else you wanted. You had a problem, and the professional helped you with it. That deserves compensation. Equal compensation.
You get what you pay for.
Or should I say SI/SO – shit input, shit output?
These days, “everyone’s in the design business“, as Mr. Robert Wong puts it very well.
Thanks Trick for reminding me about Picasso. And good luck in Italy ;)