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In 1999, I earned a bachelor’s degree in the field of scientific and technical communications. That meant I possessed the basic education to pursue a career in technical writing. What is technical writing? Technical writing is a close cousin to graphic design. You know those user manuals (many of which are overly complex, too simplified, and confusing) that you receive with your new phone, kitchen appliance, or car? Those manuals were written by technical writers.
How many of those manuals have I written? Zero, none, nada. The degree program was awesome, but I never really saw myself actually having a career in that field. I won’t get into that story, but the experience was worth the effort and money I invested. No regrets.
Over the years, however, as either an independent contractor or employee I have designed logos, flyers, newsletters, websites, business cards, and most other types of marketing materials. And you know what I’ve learned during that time? People place very little value on graphic design and don’t have any idea about the time and skills required to produce quality design work.
I’ve seen businesses spend thousands and thousands of dollars on “capital improvements” and building additions to their corporate offices, yet scoff at paying a graphic designer $1,000 for a company logo (or website, etc…) which will take the designer 1-2 weeks to complete and be seen exponentially more times than those physical improvements. Not to mention, that same logo will most likely be printed on an infinite number of promotional materials and other products (of which the logo designer will see no royalties or additional income from). Then there’s the “could you just design us a creative and playful map featuring our city’s most famous landmarks … including this, that, and the other thing … so that we could use it as a cool graphic in our organization’s annual report … we can’t really afford to pay you anything, though, because we’re a non-profit … but your work will get a lot of exposure …” Lastly, there’s the fact that I’m not a mind reader, and the times I’ve fallen short of meeting clients’ or boss’ expectations have overshadowed all the successes I’ve ever had. Those projects suck the life out of me and become a total waste of time for everyone. There are plenty of successful graphic designers out there who have learned how to navigate this whole process, but I’m not one of them.
The long and the short of it is that as I get older and become more aware of the fact that I have a finite amount of time on this earth, I’ve recalibrated my approach to performing graphic design work for other people. Basically, I’m not interested in creating traditional marketing or branding materials. Like I previously mentioned, there are tons of graphic designers out there that are way more skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable about the art and science of graphic design than me. For example, if you want a fantastic logo for your business, contact Kody Chamberlain (one of my favorite comic book creators). The guy is a design genius and creates the cleanest and classiest logos and designs I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what he charges for his services, but he’s worth every penny of whatever he does ask.
So, where does that leave us? Below I’ve listed a bunch of stipulations, but in the spirit of keeping things simple I would say if your project focuses on outdoor education, history, storytelling, or other learning opportunities for the end-user I’m interested in hearing what you have in mind.