Month: March 2015

What is my (graphic design) worth?

I found it a little difficult to research how much a freelance graphic designer should charge per hour. Throughout my research, I also found the debate on fixed pricing versus hourly billing very interesting.

Just Creative gave me great insight into the reality of pricing graphic design services. Some key points I have taken away are:

  • there’s no exact formula,
  • my prices will affect my own outlook on my services and the client’s opinion of my services,
  • uncertainty is common,
  • pricing can be a good way to weed out the time wasters,
  • potential clients may think the prices are too high no matter what the price, and
  • starting out I will probably have to charge less than I would like.

Tuts+ also outlined nine factors to consider when determining prices. These include: expenses, desired profit, market demand, industry standards, skill level, experience, market positioning, level of service and who the client is (whether they are high risk, etc).

The AIGA Survey of Design Salaries outlined the average salary of a junior designer (print/web/interactive) in 2014 was $40,000 USD, and $60,000 USD for a self-employed designer – though I acknowledge this probably doesn’t include ‘junior’ self-employed designers and is a reflection of USA standards, not Australian.

After checking Seek (an Australian site), I found salaries aren’t often outlined for graphic design job advertisements. Though, from what I did find, the average salary offered to a junior graphic designer is between $35,000-$50,000 AUD (for a mid-weight graphic designer this jumps to $50,000-$65,000 and a senior graphic designer as much as $80,000-$100,000). I then used Pay Calculator to work out the hourly rate for a junior graphic designer based on the above figure, which equates to between $17-25 per hour (based on a 38 hour working week). I understand the above hourly rate is based on a salary where the employee is entitled to leave provisions, etc. So a freelancer would have to account for leave and potential periods of no work, among other things, in their pricing.

The fixed pricing versus hourly billing debate raises some interesting considerations. Miranda Marquit, a professional writer who has experience in graphic design, advises that clients often want a quote for the project rather than an hourly rate. Meaning, if you can estimate how long a project will take, you can transfer your hourly rate into a fixed price for the project. For example, if the hourly rate is $60/hr, and designing a flyer will take 2 hours, the quote could start at $120 and include a further price buffer to account for extra tweaking time. Miranda also discusses the importance of having an agreement with the client for any graphic design project. The agreement should outline what services and product the quote includes, and should cover the following:

  • number of revisions included
  • what exactly the designer will produce
  • provision for additional charges that go outside of the original scope of the project
  • additional fees, such as a premium for rush jobs

In the end I emailed AGDA directly to get a better idea of what freelance junior graphic designers should be charging. Steve from AGDA wasn’t able to give me freelance rates but he did advise the following for junior designers working within a studio:

  • Junior Graphic Designer (0-1 years) = $33,222 or $23.50/hr
  • Junior Graphic Designer (2-4 years) = $42,013 or $27.50/hr

I understand this isn’t all the information out there, but it gives me something to start thinking about. Since I am a student only halfway through completing my double degree (Graphic Design/Communication in Advertising) and I already have full-time employment, I would be looking to freelance on the side and not as my main source of income.

I also understand my technical skills aren’t yet as advanced as a graduate graphic designers, so I would need to work a little slower on projects to start with. Meaning I wouldn’t want to transfer this extra time spent on projects as a cost to the client. Meaning I would ideally want to charge based on “reasonable” job timeframes (whilst also considering complexity of job, etc).

I think I would only be comfortable charging a base rate of approximately $25-30/hr to begin, and would only be able to fit in approximately 5 hours of freelance work a week.

Below is a timesheet branded with my personal logo, which I could use as means to track my hours completed per week for a certain client/project.


Managing myself and managing others

I completed the Johari Window tool to find out how others see me in comparison to how I see myself. The 5 attributes I picked for myself were:

  • intelligent
  • knowledgeable
  • logical
  • organised
  • witty

I work full-time and study part-time, so being organised is crucial. I like to learn, gain knowledge and share knowledge and I much prefer deductive reasoning over inductive reasoning, so see myself as quite a logical thinker. I also appreciate smiling and good humour, so like to work it into my interactions with others. I think all of this is communicated in my ENTJ personality type result as well.

I asked 20 people, consisting of friends, some family, university peers and work colleagues to use any 5 of the Johari Window attributes to best describe me. The results were:

  • 60% organised
  • 40% confident, intelligent, trustworthy & witty
  • 35% independent
  • 30% friendly & self-assertive
  • 20% able, clever & helpful
  • 15% giving, idealistic & logical
  • 10% adaptable, cheerful, dependable, energetic, extroverted, happy & proud
  • 5% accepting, calm, caring, kind, knowledgeable, observant, reflective, sensible & warm

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I read A Client’s Guide to Design by AIGA to understand how the design process works in a professional environment – to give me a better understanding of what qualities might be important in the design profession.

What attributes described in Johari Window exercise do you see as key to dealing with clients?
When dealing with clients, communication is important. Having the client clearly identify goals and objectives is key for the designer to achieve anything worthwhile. Therefore, I think one has to be: able, adaptable, caring, confident, dependable, dignified, friendly, helpful, mature, organised, responsive, sensible and trustworthy.

What attributes are key to dealing with your colleagues?
Working with colleagues often requires collaboration, as well as an understanding of diverse personalities and differing views. Drawing from my experience, I think one has to be: accepting, adaptable, dependable, dignified, friendly, helpful, observant, patient, mature, self-assertive, sensible and trustworthy.

What attributes are key to dealing with yourself?
In order for one to develop and succeed on a professional level, I think one needs to be: able, adaptable, clever, dependable, idealistic, independent, intelligent, observant, organised, reflective, responsive, searching and trustworthy.

What attributes are key to dealing with your boss?
There are a range of attributes that one might want to demonstrate to a boss in order to be viewed as a valuable employee. Therefore, I think the following attributes are important: able, adaptable, calm, confident, dependable, helpful, idealistic, knowledgeable, mature, observant, organised, reflective, self-assertive, sensible and trustworthy.

How does your version of the Johari Window differ from your close contacts?
Funnily enough, there were no attributes I picked for myself that others didn’t pick for me. I suppose this shows that I have a reasonable level of self-awareness.

Three of the five attributes I picked for myself were within the top responses (intelligent, organised, witty), which I am quite pleased with. I would like to think I am a switched-on individual and I think this is demonstrated by the fact that I work full-time while completing my double degree part-time. I also love a good joke and come-back and appreciate a dry sense of humour.

The top responses in my blind spot are: confident, trustworthy, independent, friendly and self-assertive. I’m not offended that people view me as self-assertive, as I think they mean it from the perspective that I’m not afraid to tell it like it is. I would like to think that being viewed as friendly means I am not harsh or offensive in my self-assertiveness! I do value trust, I understand that things happen but I think a high level of transparency is important to maintain trust.

I think my personal response of knowledgeable that of which only 5% of respondents agreed, I actually meant clever. If I had to pick again I think clever would be a more apt description as I definitely see myself as more resourceful than knowledgeable – so think clever would be a better fit.

Something to make note of is the fact that able at 20% was only deemed a personal attribute by work colleagues. Out of the 6 work colleagues that I asked to respond, 66% deemed me able. So I think the responses could have been vastly different if I had asked 20 work colleagues to respond. This shows that attributes important on a personal and professional level can vary.

How does this exercise make you think about your position in the workplace?
I think these results show that I can work soundly on my own and would potentially be a good boss. I think my main areas to improve on would be working with peers and co-workers, in terms of being more patient and letting others have a go. I wouldn’t say I am not a team player, but I think I need to learn that I don’t always need to take the reigns (so to speak). I think I would also like to start acknowledging when others may have the answers to the questions that I am too busy researching for myself.

Brand: Me

I like to consider myself from a brand perspective, in terms of how I represent myself, especially online. For example, the look and content of my Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram all have a considered aesthetic – I like to make sure what I post contributes positively to how I aim to be seen.

From a graphic design aspect, I’ve dabbled in designs for my own personal logo a number of times. Since I am always learning, exploring and broadening my tastes I haven’t locked anything in before (I still have a few part-time years at uni left). Therefore, I answered questions on Logo Tournament to prompt me to think a little more formally about the type of logo I’d like to create for myself.

I would like to use my real name as my business name, so I opt to name it Stephanie Brink Graphic Design. My target audience would be any business or individual requiring good quality graphic design solutions.

What are the top 3 things I’d like to communicate to my audience through my logo?
Simplicity, quality and reliability.

What style of logo?
I’m leaning towards a wordmark (company name in a stylised type which may include abstract or pictorial elements) or letterform mark (very small amount of letters to represent the business).

What colours would I like to use?
Ideally, none. I’d like a neutral design, black and white, possibly grey or a spot of natural colour if necessary.

Do I have any logo ideas or additional information?
Firstly, I am a little obsessed with the Trivia Serif typeface. I love classic, timeless logos like that of Vogue, and Trivia Serif reminds me of it.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 1.20.25 pm
Image credit: My Fonts

I also scoured Pinterest for logos that align with the look I want to achieve and found these: (images are links to original source)


I have utilised the sliders below (courtesy of Logo Tournament) to help describe how I want to communicate my personal brand.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 6.59.43 pm

Finally, the below logo is what I have come up with:
SB logo

I enjoy this design as it is sleek and simple. As they say, simple is hard – and this design actually took me a while to complete! I like the use of lines and negative space to essentially create a puzzle where the viewers mind must complete the picture. I incorporated the Trivia Serif Bold typeface with Lane Narrow. I like the quiet and subtle feel it creates, while the use of serif and sans-serif type together (and the bold/light contrast) proves how well the two can work in harmony. They also reflect two different types of graphic design – print (serif) and web (sans-serif).

As the above design doesn’t display my whole business name, it could also be used in conjunction with the below typography (for my website and business card). Please note: the serif typeface below is actually Baskerville – I only used this in place of Trivia Serif Regular which I haven’t purchased yet (I only purchased the bold version for my logo).

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.36.21 pm

Below is an example of my logo being used on a template CV I created.
I opted to keep it formal and optimise the use of white space. I often overcrowd documents with information so this was an ideal opportunity for me to explore a more minimal design. I made use of two typefaces, Baskerville and Univers – ideally though, I would use Trivia Serif Regular with Univers (Univers is more legible than Lane Narrow, which is a more stylised sans-serif type). I like how this CV design combines both a modern and traditional look – much like my logo!