Digital Defiant Studios

Published: 2010-12-22 00:00:00 -0800

Clipart conundrum, dinner and a movie

A lot of clients undoubtedly will wonder, when getting custom design work done, “why does a design cost so much?” “I can buy a stock photo/clip-art/logo/vector illustration” (etc..) for only (insert-dollar-amount)!

Fundamentally there is a major problem with this viewpoint, but I’m sure at first blush, everyone can agree it seems like a valid perspective.

But let’s look at some analogies and see if we can resolve this confusion.

First one that comes to mind is a movie rental. When you rent a movie for a dollar, or ten dollars, you don’t really think of it as anything special. But guess what? That cheap rental costs millions of dollars to make. It doesn’t appear from the ether, polished and ready for consumption, free of charge.

Clipart is the same way. The reason it is cheap is because it is resold many times. Sure, if I make one clipart, it may take me an hour or two to make—which could go anywhere from 30-100$. But then I get to resell it infinite times—making my time worth the effort. If that clipart sold once for $1-5, and it took me hours to make, what incentive do I have to make it? I am losing money hand-over-fist.

Conversely, if I make a design that I cannot resell, I am making it for one client, and for them only. They own the rights. So is it only fair that I pass on that cost to them. To make one piece of art, for one client, and essentially “give” it to them for that clipart price, once again I am losing money, hand-over-fist.

That would be a very fruitless way to run a business, and it would quickly see its own demise.

It’s kind of like asking why a five-course dinner using locally sourced food that takes an hour to prepare costs upwards of a $100 to make, when you can just buy a frozen T.V. dinner at the grocery store for $5.

[caption id=“attachment_1346” align=“alignnone” width=“640” caption=“photo credit:”]tv dinner design[/caption]

Most people see that as a no-brainer. Yet design is somehow “outside the realm” of this logic.

It’s quality. Yes, it really is that simple. Yet some clients fail to grasp that concept. They only see the end result, not the process.

So next time you find yourself in this situation, just explain that T.V. dinners aren’t the same as five-course meals for a reason.

And if you’re the one making these snap judgements, just remember this: if you want a T.V. dinner, go and get one–they’re sold all over. But if you want a five-course dinner, then save your money and savor every bite.