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Hi Karen
Hi Trish

Karen, I am daily reminded of this and it’s also something that I’m constantly discussing with colleagues here and in Germany.

I started in 1983 as an apprentice for 2 years and studied afterwards for 4 years. I saw and see the value of my training and experience similar to that of an architect or engineer.

Unfortunately hard- and software have made the design part (nice pictures and fancy fonts in many eyes) easy accessible to everyone, that is one big influence on prices and client expectations.

One of the first things I did when I came to Australia was becoming a member of AGDA, the Australian Graphic Design Association.
I was astonished to see that there was and is no fee catalogue for design work existing in Australia, the way you will find it in Europe.
Today prices aren’t that stable in Europe as they have been but at least there is a guideline for clients what to expect. Maybe we should focus on that too here in Australia – at the moment AGDA does great work in promoting designers and assisting students, but helping to keep up the image of professional graphic design is still not 100% what it could be.

We can’t keep anyone from dealing online with a designer from Asia or Russia, who is happy to work for $20/hour – they might be able to pay their rent, food and taxes with that. I can’t. And I tell my clients that. Professional clients understand. And book me.

The other week (while business was a bit slow) I was browsing through all these freelancer platforms. Guru was the only one with a little bit of fairness, substance and quality towards the suppliers. At least I could find colleagues there with a proper hourly rate.
At one of my network meetings a few weeks ago I met the owner of another freelance platform. He just didn’t get my point, his comment was a shoulder shrug and: “that’s supply and demand”.
I don’t see it as a fair market competition if my quotes get undercut by someone who doesn’t have to pay taxes or rent the way I have to.

In Germany they have a saying (and they practised it religiously over the last 10 years). It goes like: “It’s cool to be stingy”
Well, we can see now where that took them.

What I absolutely don’t get is that even people from other small businesses who expect and need to be paid well to keep their business alive promote these cheap and quick solutions or use them.
We don’t do each other a favour in the long run.

And the quality of design suffers. Already now a lot of things are very interchangeable.

I don’t have a solution other than to be patient and constantly telling clients the advantages of working with a professional. And to deliver more than just good looking layouts, because graphic design and visual communication is more than that.

In regards to the training – I don’t know what to suggest, I guess you know the training situation here much better.
I still refuse to accept that Graphic Design becomes something less than it deserves to be. It still has the cultural impact, but not on the day to day scale anymore. Maybe that’s something the unis and schools need to work at.

Teaching clients in a better way might bring them to influence what designers supply. But that probably doesn’t work as long as everybody is just keen to get the cheapest solution that’s on the market.