Sunday, 25 September 2016

All Designers are Frauds!!!!1!!!1!!

"There is no such thing as originality anymore, so you might as well give up" Isaac Caplan-Wilson, 2016

My friend Isaac isn't known for mincing his words, and if there was ever a way to get straight to the point, he got the point, in a direct line and left trails of fire behind his sharp fiery tongue. Subtly was never a strong point in Ike's vocabulary.

If you disagree with that statement, then maybe you should have a look at the design around you; the witch-hunts and accidental rip offs that grab the heads of designers and submerge them into the deep water of internet hatred.

AirBnB, the Tokyo Olympics & Beats are all rip offs (accordingly) whether the creators knew about it or not and they deserve to hung drawn and quartered for their disservices to the world. But is it not just possible that eventually, within a couple of years that two different people could stumble upon the same solution for their design problem. I mean there are only so many solutions for companies that share industries and the same initials.

 Or perhaps these designers are straight up Snake Oil Salesmen, digging through endless design specimen books for a logo to directly copy and pass off as their own with complete ignorance of the truth, or perhaps they are just an unlucky sole at the brunt of an angry mob of internet 'experts'.

We'll likely never know the full truth of any of these cases, but it does seem true that there is no longer and originality in design, even without knowledge you are constantly copying someone else. You might as well unplug your computer, burn your sketchbooks and snap all your pencils—you'll forever be stumbling through the dark, standing on past designers toes whilst the public stand viewing through the double-sided mirror that is the internet, hurling educated abuse at each movement you make. You cretin.

So we have two possibilities; you accept you'll never be truly original and give up or you ignore everything that stands for and create your own originality. Look at it like a vegetable patch—you buy the seeds and you grow some carrots and you're bloody proud of those orange spear shaped vegetables because they didn't die and you got to eat them with your tea that night. You didn't create that plant, nor did invent the carrot but you did make them. You grew them, you watered them and you took care of them; they might look like every other carrot but you made them; they are your own originality.

If you think you are always producing completely original work in an industry that has existed as long as the mass printed page (see Gutenburg Bible) then you are a fraud, because there likely isn't much that hasn't already been done—so you need to create your own originality. It would be a fair argument to say that all design is fundamentally based on inspiration, thus making nothing truly original in the global sense. So I say to the (Isaac) you sir are both wrong and right, but wise but also ignorant. You are kind of like the bible; yeah, it's fantastic to 'Love your neighbour as yourself' but it's completely stupid to believe everything you have and have achieved is thanks to an ethereal spirit.

But as always, this is just my perspective on things. Just as someone can be a christian and follow the bible as a book of guidance and non-fiction, people can also believe that originality can no longer exist; which ironically they both seem as plausible to exist as each other to me. I mean, if we can fly through the air in a steel cylinder, send imagery and sound through an invisible network and observe galaxies that may have already destroyed themselves, I don't see why originality could no longer exist and a man on a cloud couldn't dictate my actions through this exact writing.

It's all a matter of perspective, knowledge and opinion m'dear. 

Friday, 23 September 2016

post-student_pricing_guide.pdf Vol. II (R.Scott Edition)

Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin. I came to win & nobody knows any more words than this, here's another volume of my pricing guide.

As you may have seen, I recently shared my thoughts on how you should price yourself or at least how you should think about pricing if you are new to this game—the game of pain. I honestly I thought I did quite well with that post and it seems that there is a general consensus that it wasn't all that bad too, but I find that without comment, without critique there is no way I can be happy with it. I guess I'm a bit of a masochist.

As always, good ol' Robbie Scott comes through for me, he drives right into my Facebook living room and lets me know exactly what he thinks and it should be obvious that this is something I respect—I can't be arsed to read between lines or figure out what someone really meant, I just want to know what they think.

He shared a few extra items that I should have considered and to me, they made a lot of sense. I didn't feel like these items should be merely added onto that said post, I thought that they were so well considered and planned that it deserved some recognition. It's not only Robbie that made comment on things that should be added, but his always seem to float from a a height of trail, pain and experience; despite only being a wee lad.

These things worth noting as contributed by Robbie Scott:

Set Your Rate

Even if you are not working by the hour, it helps for you set a price for certain items and processes.
"You need to have a base price which is the minimum value of your time which is non negotiable."

This helps you set your standing with any client, if they know their lowest – as do you – it's a easier process for pricing but also, it's a good indicator to how you regard yourself and your work. The client may never see your lowest rate but you'll know it and that will help your keep a strong chin when they want to try and slash £200 off the final price.

You are essentially paying your own wages

"A common mistake is taking a job which doesn't pay enough to cover your time and often post grads will end up paying themselves less than minimum wage and end up working 15 hour days."

A lot of times you'll think less of yourself when pricing and more of the client. You'll think—I can't charge that much! But realistically you are providing them with a service, they are hiring you because they cannot do it themselves; so as far as pricing is concerned, this is the time to be selfish.

Specialist Skills

When entering into any project, or pricing for anything you need to assess whether they are hiring you for anything that would require specialist skills; skills outside of your job title and outside of the standard brief. "for example photography, video, After Effects, retouching etc—you can also set a different rate for those skills."

Say you are designing a leaflet, but they also ask for you to sort the photography for them; that's another skill and process that you'll need to provide; this adds to the cost. You are basically removing the need for them to hire a photographer, so why should you do the job of two professionals at the cost of one.

Don't be taken for a mug and you'll keep Captain Scott happy. For which he clearly is.

Totally stolen from Facebook

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Bad design isn't always bad

Pizza shops, hairdressers and newsagents—they all have terrible design. But is it really terrible?

Now, I won't be standing here trying to argue that their design is actually well done or that it's any good; but I do want to argue that bad doesn't mean bad. This is the point where you re-read what you've read and come back to here just as confused as before.

I want to put across to you, that those ugly looking and badly formatted signs you see on your drunken walk home are actually less bad than you might think. If you can put you mind into that post-pint state and see through the hangover haze, these simple designs were a beacon of hope and hunger for your self-inflicted weekend disabling.

The crisp, clear monogram might work in that posh restaurant but Papyrus is king in the Chinese take-away. There is comfort in the poorly designed, the visual ignorance if you like.
Raid any draw in your kitchen and you'll find a menu laden in poor colour choices teamed with a 'printers special' * logo, you'll see at least 6 fonts and it'll be barely readable—but Chicken Korma is clear enough, is it not?

Whether the designer of these logos, leaflets and signs is aware of it or not, they are creating a comfortable bad. Imagery that is simple enough to not exclude, intimidate or offend anyone. It's certainly not good design, thus is must be bad design—but this doesn't make it bad design. Understand? No? Me neither.

A photo posted by 📸 (@skyltbild) on

Bad design isn't bad when it's in the right place. Mario's Pizza Shack doesn't need the NASA Brand Guidelines, it just needs to tell you it's going to infringe on Nintendo's copyright and sell you a reasonably priced Ham & Pineapple. It needs to be reliably shit, because you don't always fancy going to Pizza Express, sometimes you just want to boost your cholesterol on the sofa. y'know.

What I'm saying is, in some cases bad design isn't bad design; it's just badly designed which in turn makes it good design for the people looking for comfort in bad design. The people without preference in spotting good design or the people that are bad for spotting good design but made bad decisions with various good substances and now seek anything bad for them, usually under the banner of bad design—which we now know is good design because of how bad it is. Get it?

Perhaps bad design is only bad when it's not suited, it's bad not when it looks bad but when it's works badly. Let's look at it like it were maths, which perhaps is bad design on my behalf but who cares?
  • Logo made by printers + Large corporate business = bad
  • Crisp, strong logo + Large corporate business = good
  • Logo made by printers + Local takeaway = good
  • Crisp, strong logo + Local takeaway = bad (if done too well)

If you are now looking back and feel that you disagree with me, then feel free to cry in a corner. Because you can clearly see that Snoop agrees with me, and if you think Snoop is wrong then you better check yourself. Love Vincent x

* a printer's special is a logo created by a printing company. It's a derogatory term I made up today to describe a particular genre of branding. "Oh are those your new leaflets?" "Yes, they were really cheap! They even designed my logo for me." "Wow! That's a printer's special if ever I saw one"

Sunday, 4 September 2016


Every creative student on earth has the same issue—"how the fuck do I price my work?"

See that GIF above? Well that could be you, rolling in the money—even if you aren't an Indian lady! (mad right?) It just requires you run over a couple of steps through your head and don't sell yourself short; even though it seems very fair to do so at the time.

Preface: Almost every creative subject studied at university will cover the chance for you to get some freelance work and unfortunately almost every single subject is not respected as 'real work'.
Every man and his dog would love branding for his god-awful business, every millennial wants illustration on their walls and for some reason everything needs a website now-a-days. See here.

The only problem is, the majority sees these as 'non-essential' and don't really want to part cash with something they reckon they "could do themselves". Every early creative knows this in the back of their mind and the majority of clients know it too. They know you don't have the piece of paper that says BA(Hons) yet, so it's fair game as far as they're concerned.

So lets me share a couple of tips with you, to help you understand how to price yourself.

Freelance doesn't mean free of charge: This seems really REALLY obvious right? WRONG!
I haven't really encountered it myself but there is a large percentage of people that will see the word free and instantly assume the above.

Exposure doesn't buy beers: "This would be great exposure for you!"
Yeah man, a logo I designed hanging above your estate agents without any credit to myself will be great for my career—hey, let me do this for free for that privilege!

NO x 1000 – It might work well in my portfolio, but I could just create any logo ever, for my portfolio, so this is not a valid outcome. Pay me or leave me.

Charities, non-profit and work without pay: When it comes to work of this sort you need to ask yourself two questions.
Did whomever is asking for free work approach you or did you approach them? It's a question or morals really. If they approached you, they are looking for free work and will likely be a nightmare to work with. If you approached them, then you are offering a service with gratitude. 
And secondly Does the person you are creating work for get paid for this? if they are getting paid from your hard work, then you've been ripped off—but if they aren't being paid and you two are both working payment free, then perhaps you are just being helpful.

Working by the hour: A difficult choice, with no real easy answer.
If you are an illustrator or artist alike, don't you dare think about working by the hour; whereas with design you can justify working by the hour because it's easier to predict the time it might take to do most jobs, especially if you've done them before.

With that said, I suggest you avoid doing so if you can. Use it as an idea for pricing but don't hing on working by the hours unless you've got a solid contract that allows for changes and cancellations.

Rights, terms and usage: Though you might not have thought about it too much—where, how and how long the work you are creating will be used, changes how you should price it.

Student doesn't mean cheap: You might not know everything but that doesn't mean you aren't the right person for the job; don't allow yourself to get into the mindset of 'I'm a student, so this is too much' though, I got my main freelance experience producing posters for £20 each. My time and work was worth more than this, but they were so frequent that the learning from the work was worth the sacrifice in money. It's a difficult decision but I reckon you might know when you see one. 

You're worth more than you think: No explanation needed.

The PPP: (Practical Pricing Process)

Guideline Prices
  • Student £10 per hour
  • Graduate £15 per hour
Use these as guidelines to raise your price, lower your price or estimate a cost without working by the hour. I am not an expert but I find whenever anyone else does one of these they don't actually talk figure so it doesn't help any one. It's worth considering that you may want to reduce these figures if you are doing work that you aren't knowledge on or raising it if it's work that you are confident with.

  • A long deadline? Lucky you! (+0%)
  • A short deadline (+10%)

Do you have years or minutes?
If you have a long time you needed price for extra hours, it just means you have more time to ponder and return to it; but on the other hand if you have nearly no time at all the complete the project, then you need to raise that price because you are making it priority number one.

  • Local Business (+0%)
  • Large Business (+10%)
  • Charity or Non-Profit (-20%) Just to be nice
When pricing it's best to understand who you are pricing for and how this will effect the work you produce. If it's a local business it might just go in their window, but if it's a larger company it could go on billboards and be circulated for years.

  • Are you printing?
  • Do you need to buy anything for the client or the project?
Don't cut yourself short, if you need 200 meters of silk to complete the project, make sure to add the cost of that alongside the pricing of the work.


Changes take time, time costs.
When pricing make sure to allow time and costs for changes; but be lenient. It's okay to allow three changes but when it comes to changes everyday, adding extra items or changing the whole project—you need to price accordingly. THIS IS IMPORTANT because the client will not always see things the way you do and is best outlined in the contract.


It seems cold, but there is little to no reason to not work with a contract with your client. It gives you both security with the work and lets you know where you both stand.

  • Under £100 (No Deposit)
  • £100 – £400 (33%)
  • £500 + (50%)
Deposits allow safety on both sides. If the client drops out you haven't lost hours without pay and vise versa the client knows you aren't just going to drop out on them. It also means you can survive whilst working on the project.

Disclaimer: Though I have done my fair share of Freelance, I've only been doing this for three years so take my words as a guideline more than anything. You'll know when you see the worth which of these apply and which don't. You'll under sell yourself and you'll get screwed over—this happens to everyone.

You'll lose work and you won't always get it right. The hardest part of being a creative is being paid for it (until you hit the big leagues) so stick at it!
Copyright © Vincent Walden Sucks