So this week I've had a little more free time than I've had for the past few months, and I got a little worried: "Will I have enough money to eat? Is this the end of Goodputty?" :)
So I decided to post my profile on more creative databases online. I've had a profile on coroflot since I was a uni student and I get one or two offers of work a year from it. I figured this creative database thingy should be helpful during lulls in workload.
I found two listed in a reputable magazine and joined up. The part I hate most about these sites is that I have to upload my portfolio. So I end up just uploading 4 or 5 pieces of work. This probably doesn't really help, but when I find a project I'm interested in I'll just refer the buyer to my website.
Truth be told, I think most buyers prefer to work with people from the same country, ie. US, cuz, well, you don't know what these unscrupulous and untrustworthy Asians might do. That's how I lost out on one of the projects I was quite interested in. Our prices were pretty close to each other (and I'm not gonna accept that the other designer's work is better as a reason :P), but the designer was from US, as was the buyer.
Anyway, to the main point of the post. I bid on another project a few days ago, and I got a reply asking for a mockup. Now this put me in a dilemma. I did want the project, but I don't do mockups if I'm not guaranteed a project. This is like pitching, something ad agencies love to do, but which I hate. But then, ad agencies spend RM5000 on a pitch, for a chance to win a RM500,000 account, so, well, they're entitled to do it. And they do get paid for pitches sometimes.
Sending pre-contract mockups aka spec work (defined as producing a piece for a potential client with no guarantee that your work will be chosen and/or paid for - No!Spec) is not something that I've just decided against out of whim or arrogance. It's an actual issue that affects the design industry and undermines its value.
Facts are: I see a project I'm interested in, I contact the buyer detailing how I can benefit him with my work. He replies and asks me to do some work before he can decide if he will pay me. What a raw deal! Imagine that he has 10 designers sending him mockups. He has at least 10 designs to choose from, all for free. Most of them will also be of a quality good enough to send for final print. He has an idea - just take that, send it to the printer, and print. No charge to him at all.
It sounds fair for someone to know what your ideas are. But you have to be adequately compensated for it. Do you go to a restaurant and ask to sample each dish before you decide what you want to eat? No, you look at words or you look at pictures on the menu. In the same way, I ask potential clients to look at my portfolio to see the quality and style of my work before I do anything at all for them. Time is money, and I value my time and expertise too much to give away for free.