Frequently Asked Questions
There are certain questions that come up a lot. To save me time answering them, and you time asking them, here they are.
Great question, I’m glad you asked. I have an entire page about that, but the short answer is around $100/hour. If you think that’s a crazy amount and that I wear diamond-bedazelled Chuck Taylors, I can assure you that is not the case, and you should read about where that number comes from and what it covers.
Short answer: No.
Long answer: I’m not a big fan of fixed fee projects. There are a few circumstances where it makes sense (like for example when the intrinsic value of the project is much higher than what my hourly rate would come in at), but for the most part fixed fees mean I’m either over billing or under billing for the project—so one of us is getting screwed.
Therefore, I generally bill all my projects hourly (with the very occasional exception), so I can’t offer you a price list—time needed to complete a project can vary hugely depending on the ask, how many rounds of revisions we go through, etc. etc. etc. So how will you know how much something costs? Well, I can give you an estimate based on what I know about the project (so the more you can tell me the better), and that at least helps us establish whether we’re on the same page in terms of budget. How close we come to that estimate usually depends on the state of the content when I receive it, how many rounds of revisions we end up doing, and how many surprises pop up along the way. I’ve gotten pretty good at estimating how long it takes me to produce something, but I’m not psychic so I’ll never be able to account for the unknowns. I will always keep you apprised of where we are in the budget, and when an ask will undoubtedly set us over the original estimate. This way, if you’re on a tight budget, we can figure out how to prioritize your wants so that we come in at or under the original estimate.
I often get requests from people who “mostly” like their logo but want a couple tweaks. Do I want to do this kind of work? The short answer is maybe but probably not. Read on while I try to explain why without sounding like an asshole:
Maybe you had your logo designed by a really qualified, polished designer. Or maybe you designed your logo yourself in Word using clip art. Or maybe your nephew who is “good in Photoshop” designed your logo for you. When I take on your partially completed logo, or the logo you’re just not quite happy with, I inherit all of those choices, good and bad (and yes, “good and bad” design choices are not as subjective as you might think—for example if your logo won’t print in one colour onto a hat, and you’re a company that wants to slap your logo on clothing, there has been a failure in your logo design). The trouble with inheriting a design is I’m going to want to “fix” any of the problems I see. What do I mean by problems? Lack of balance, poor typography, inharmonious colours, sloppy production quality, missed opportunities, overcomplicated graphics, etc. So I’m going to want to tidy the whole room up, and you’re going to say “Wait! I only wanted you to sweep these four square feet in the corner!”
I said the short answer was “maybe but probably not”. So generally if you’re coming to me and saying “I don’t like this one little part of my logo, please fix it and don’t touch anything else”, well, this is probably work I don’t want to do. And if that’s what you want, that’s your right, it’s your logo! But it’s also my right to turn down work that I don’t want, so yay free will for everyone!
However, if you have a logo, and you think the whole thing could use a refresh, but you just want to keep the spirit of the logo, now that I can do. That allows me to make improvements while not tearing your brand to the ground and starting over. I actually like this kind of puzzle, because it gives me both freedom and constraint—the balance of the two is basically my wheelhouse.
It’s not a simple question, so not a simple answer. The cost of a logo depends on many things. How many concepts would you like to see? How much illustration is involved? How customized is the type? How many rounds of edits will it take to get us there? And finally—and this is crucial—what is the intrinsic value of the logo?
What does that mean? Well, if you’re a startup—and let me just be frank for a moment—your logo is important, for sure, but who knows if you’re going to be around in a year from now. What I’m saying is, this logo has much less value to you than say, if you’re Adidas, and you come to me for a new logo (yeah right). To Adidas, the value of a logo and a brand is huge, because of how large they are and how many people interact with that brand. Adidas might pay a million dollars for a new logo. A startup might pay $1000.
Essentially what I’m saying here is that you should budget for at least $1000 for me to design you a logo, and understand that number could balloon quickly with multiple concepts, many rounds of edits, detailed illustration, etc.
As a very rough guide, the startup logos I’ve designed have come in anywhere between $1000 and $5000.
Just like with logos, the cost of a website can vary greatly. But again, I can tell you that it’s usually very difficult to build a website for less than $2000. That’s generally the starting price for selecting and buying a theme, getting WordPress installed and set up, skinning and styling the theme to your brand, plugging in content and launching. Even the most basic websites take some time to set up and customize.
If you can’t afford even $2000, I recommend that you set up your own website using a service like Squarespace. They have well-designed templates and you pay a small monthly fee for your website.
I cringe when I read this. I also rarely take on clients who already know exactly what they want.
For one thing, I’m not a mind reader—if you have a very specific image of what you want in your head, I will likely never be able to “bring it to life” for you. So I’m already being set up to fail. That’s not good for you or for me.
Secondly—and the only way to get this point across is to be perfectly blunt—what you have designed in your head may not be good design. And that’s because, presumably, you are not a designer. So if you’re married to the ideas you’ve come up with, you’re likely going to be quite resistant to changing them, or going in a different direction.
You’re not hiring me to make you happy. You’re hiring me to make your project successful. Sometimes what will make you happy and what will make your project successful are actually at odds. This is why we come up with a creative brief before we start the project—the goal at the end of the project is to satisfy the creative brief.
Here’s a really exaggerated example to help illustrate my point: You come to me for a logo for your financial planning business. The goal of the logo is to be professional, trustworthy, and solid. But you really like cartoon dinosaurs, so you’d like me to work a cartoon dinosaur into the logo. A cartoon dinosaur might make you happy, but it won’t lead to a professional, trustworthy, solid financial planning business logo. This is an instance where making you happy and making the project successful are at odds.
I get a lot of reactions regarding the way I present myself here. Mostly positive, but occasionally people are put off by my straightforwardness. Which is good—in fact I’ve crafted the tone of the this website to try to attract like-minded people. I once heard a quote that stuck with me, and I’m not sure where it comes from. It’s this: You get the clients that you deserve.
That means a couple things, to me. One is that if I don’t show you who I am right here on my site before you’ve ever even contacted me, I’m doing us both a disservice. I’m sarcastic. I have a good sense of humour. I like casual language and a laid back attitude. I never felt at home in the more buttoned-up agency environment, and I want to make sure people know who I am so that they know what they’re getting into. If you treat me well, I will bend over backwards for you. We’ll make jokes along the way and we’ll actually have a really good time. What a bonus. You get what you want, I get paid, and we have fun doing it.
While I may be a hardcore introvert, I also cherish good relationships with people. I see it as taking on clients, not taking on work, because how happy I am in my job is almost entirely dependent on my client relationships.
That’s key for me. A good client relationship always trumps interesting work. Some designers only care about boosting their portfolio, but what really affects my happiness and well-being is the way I’m treated. I can always create my own interesting personal projects if that’s what’s lacking for me, but there is no substitute for mutual respect and and a casual, easy rapport.
I’m often surprised by how many emails I get from new designers or design students seeking advice or wanting to interview me for a class. In an effort to keep from repeating myself again and again, I’ve written a Medium article with a bunch of miscellaneous advice that you can absolutely choose to ignore. I’m just winging it like pretty much everyone else. The things that work for me won’t necessarily work for you, but if it helps, I’m happy to pass along what I’ve learned.
First you need to understand my work setup. My office is about 80 square feet. That’s just barely enough space for a desk, a couple of shelves, and two snoring cats. Also, my office is in my apartment. I work in pajamas a lot. Practically speaking, I just don’t have any room for an intern. I once did a short stint as an intern in some guy’s apartment in a very similar setup as what I have here, and it was honestly the most uncomfortable work setup I could possibly imagine. I lasted five days, and I still shudder when I think back on it.
Practicality aside, I’m a lone wolf. Part of the reason I got out of the agency world is that I have no desire to be an art director, or take anyone under my wing—which is the logical career path in a design studio. What I love about design is the doing of the work. And perhaps one day that will change, and I’ll be more interested in moving away from that side of things, but this is where I’m at now.
I do appreciate and am flattered by the fact that anyone would want to intern with me. But it would be a bit too much like living with me and ask anyone who’s ever lived with me—it’s trying.