The constant battle.
Dear pattern lovers. Be warned. I’m about to go on a bit of rant.
The constant battle of every creative person. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the issue of getting paid my worth. Of clients wanting Gucci but only willing to pay for iStock.
Of me having to spend time explaining why my time and creativity costs. I’m tired of having to negotiate and cut my prices because the client has a small print budget. That is not my problem. Up your budget then! Or buy patterns from a pattern bank, there are plenty of beautiful patterns to be found there.
But it’s not just pattern designers that struggle with this. It seems to be a battle fought by many creatives and designers. I have a friend who works as an interior designer and the other day she was on the verge of crying, saying she almost didn’t like people anymore. This was of course an overstatement but I understand where it comes from. Her clients almost always tell her they have a hard time believing that it took the hours it took to create their dream home. Even though she keeps count of every hour. How do you meet a statement like that?
Creativity is blurry. It’s not a straight line, it’s a crooked and bumpy road. It’s about experimenting and trying different things in order to end up with that perfect solution or artwork where we as creatives and our clients are equally happy. Today it is harder than ever to find a unique tone and voice, the world is full of creative and talented people who are all inspired by someone or something and very often by the same trends.
I have had one client who offered to pay more than I had planned to ask. ONE. And I have many lovely clients paying what I ask for without questioning. (I love you!) But there is still a majority not willing to pay. Who have a budget the size of my 4-year olds’ piggy bank. I honestly think they have no clue how the creative process works. That, just like Hiro in Big Hero 6 with his micro bots, I just have to think about the pattern and how I want it to look and it will magically appear as a finished repeat in Illustrator. I’m being silly of course but this is a major problem in our industry.
Why is this so common in the pattern industry and the creative industry? Clients wanting something unique but not willing to pay a fifth of what they should. Why is our work not valued higher? I have a hard time seeing lawyers, consultants, electricians, dry cleaners and many other professions being ok with a fifth of their quote. Most likely they would laugh and walk out the door. I’m almost 38 years old. I have three children. An education. Years of experience. A mortgage. Is it so crazy that I would like to get paid for my time? I don’t think so but unfortunately many clients still seem to think so…
So what is the way forward? Saying no thanks to these clients is a start. And it has to be a collective effort. I know it’s easier said than done, but we have to be united in this. Any other solutions? I just find it so sad that I still am forced to say no to fun projects and clients.
But I am not willing to sell my overly sensitive creative soul. :)