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A price for Project design job

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I worked for 15 years as freelance computer artist.
Now I am getting offers to work as Project designer on various multimedia applications.
I tryed a first project and it seems to me that the pricing (system) Im using for art commissions doesn't work.

For creation of grahic assets (for games etc) I have hour rates that togehter with hours spent give me what I feel is a fair price.

Now with the design job: I got a submission / basic idea from my cutomer. I made a simple project analysis, then based on that brainstormed a Concept design, then based on that created a detailed Project design with documentation, created previews and done some testing using those.

For a project of lets say "a multimedia application for public (computer) terminals in museum - with added value" it took me 3 net days of work.

If I use my artits hour rates, it seems to me that Im basicaly giving them a well made design with some really inovative ideas - for couple dolard. (lets say $ 500)

So Im thinking - is there a different way Design(er) work is evaluated / priced ?

Or am I just fooling myself that my expertise and ideas, no matter how original and project-saving, have higher value then they really have ?

I have completely no idea and am a bit stuck here. (..philosophizing :))

Please, can somebody with experience give me an advice on this ?

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An hourly rate is OK for short jobs. For a medium-short job, you could use a daily rate. For a medium-long job, you could use a weekly rate. For a long job, you could use a monthly rate.

Breaking each of those down into hours, the highest hourly rate is for the shortest jobs.
The lowest hourly rate is for the longest jobs.

You want to ask for an amount that will fairly compensate you for your work but is not so high that the client will balk.

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Thanks Tom,
Im just not sure - Are you a (freelance) dasigner, or do you mean this generaly, about hour rates in any freelance profession ?

You want to ask for an amount that will fairly compensate you for your work but is not so high that the client will balk.
Well, I guess everybody understands this basic rule :) I can add that "you also never know whats your clients limit beforehead" etc.
Can you be perhaps more specific and give a hint about what are some basic rates for project designer ?

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Thanks Tom,
Im just not sure - Are you a (freelance) dasigner, or do you mean this generaly, about hour rates in any freelance profession ?

[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1319691196' post='4877461']You want to ask for an amount that will fairly compensate you for your work but is not so high that the client will balk.
Well, I guess everybody understands this basic rule :) I can add that "you also never know whats your clients limit beforehead" etc.
Can you be perhaps more specific and give a hint about what are some basic rates for project designer ?
[/quote]

It depends on many factors.

The biggest factor is experience.

Have you done it before? Are you very experienced with a portfolio of successes under your belt? Or perhaps have a portfolio of mediocre results? Or worse, a record of epic failures? Or do you have zero experience at all? You would have dramatically different rates if you asked Will Wright to design it vs asking an unknown recent graduate.

Comparing your novice designs to those of established and experienced people like Will Wright or Chris Sawyer or John Romero, they can command many orders of magnitude more money just for their experience and their name.



The next biggest factor is location.

Consider than just in the US alone, pay rates in certain parts of the country are more than double the costs of other parts of the country. Much of that has to do with location. A group in downtown Manhattan or central San Jose is going to charge much more than a group that is located in the middle of nowhere. They may do exactly the same job, may have the same expertise, and may give the same results, but they charge different rates. This difference is even more obvious if you are willing to cross international boundaries.

Obviously there are extra costs and risks involved in interstate and international business, such as what will happen if there is a dispute or major problem. It is one thing to sue a guy who lives across town. It quite another to sue someone who lives across the country. And it is another thing altogether to sue someone who lives on the other side of the world. That is partly why location matters even for work where location shouldn't really matter.






You write that you "[color="#1C2837"]worked for 15 years as freelance computer artist" but the questions you ask stand in stark contrast to that claim.

Assuming you have 15 years of actual real-world experience in bidding projects, negotiating the terms, getting the contracts in place, doing the work and working closely with the customer to ensure acceptance, completing the projects, handling the upsetting but too-frequent cases of non-payment or disputed quality, advertising your services, and so on.... well, it seems you would know all this.


Since you are just asking for numbers, here are some:

For a nobody fresh from college, I can easily imagine paying the local minimum wage, or just over that rate.
For an experienced and NON-established professional I would consider anything less than $150/hr to be unrealistically low (for my area).
For an experienced and established professional, the sky is the limit. Some of these people make six figures per day.

But you are none of those. You seem to have no background in design, no experience in it, and in many ways may be less qualified even than the recent college graduate. Personally, I would value that design work accordingly.

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First of all, Frob thank you very much for your answer and advice!

I wonder why you judge me so harshly, knowing nothing about me at all :)
But I guess I can count it on all-times-high saturation of "newbies" on all forums ?
After being a moderator on several profession forums, I myself have a bad tick of throwing anybody I don't know automaticaly into a 'noob basket', so I guess I can't argue :)

This aside...

If you still wonder how I can have 15y+ experience and not know something that seem fundamental to you: (a bit long story. Sorry for that)

All the time I was -officialy- working solely on positions of artist (,animator, art-designer, graphic / web / UI designer), art director (,usability / user experience specialist).
Both as employee and freelance.

In reality, very often people on positions of project designer, tech-designer, project manager, were so incompetent (or plain stupid) that I (or someone) had to gradually take over their work (jobs) and do it for them. To save the project, and subsequently our money or job in it.

But, I was almost never officialy payd of it (or payd for it at all in some cases). I was still officialy hired and payd as art-person, period. I was almost never acknowledged for work on the design or managing the project. Mostly because my boss (the project manager) would have to lose his job or simply because of their ego. Or because I didn't really fight for it, afraid of loosing the, or future job(s).

I was -never- officialy credited for it in any of the projects, for the same reasons.
Blame this on my shy-ness / low self propagation as I'm a computer / art guy.
Or state of the game dev industry - more so in the country I started in.
Or partly a bad luck of being wrong places with wrong people.


The point is: I was never officialy payd for it. I was payd for my time, but still as art-person. Hence I don't know the prices or even the pricing models used for freelance game / app / software design.

I do though in fact have game / app / web solutions design experience from about 10 projects. Projects Im not credited for.
I have just finished first (badly payd?) official design job (that why my belated reply here), so I guess its getting better. :)

I, at any rate, have very good idea, lot of experience -and- also a huge protfolio as computer artist. So waving me off as newb wouldn't be fair in any case ;)

I don't write this all to justify myself. More to sort it all for myself.
It might also give some idea about the industry to the beginners in it. ..or at least amusement whoever might stumble upon this :)


For the prices you mentioned (thank you again for that!):
I don't mean to argue with you. Just thinking..

I have to say that the 150 for "NON-established professional" got me stuck as incredibly (impossibly) high.
As experienced, NON-established freelance artist I think I started at measly $7 an hour.
Now I'm a lot higher, but nowhere near 150, and I know good game artists from US working for 20!

Is there really that big difference between art and design job ?
Or where do you come from and what kind of clients do you have to have this kind of salary ? (a rhetorical question ;)

And most important of all: don't you want to be my manager ?! :) Truth is that even if I gave you half of the 150/hour I would be better of then now.
I believe I'm skilled artist, designer and more but I guess I'm horrible at marketing (myself).

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First of all, Frob thank you very much for your answer and advice!

I wonder why you judge me so harshly, knowing nothing about me at all :)
But I guess I can count it on all-times-high saturation of "newbies" on all forums ?
After being a moderator on several profession forums, I myself have a bad tick of throwing anybody I don't know automaticaly into a 'noob basket', so I guess I can't argue :)

This aside...

If you still wonder how I can have 15y+ experience and not know something that seem fundamental to you: (a bit long story. Sorry for that)

All the time I was -officialy- working solely on positions of artist (,animator, art-designer, graphic / web / UI designer), art director (,usability / user experience specialist).
Both as employee and freelance.

In reality, very often people on positions of project designer, tech-designer, project manager, were so incompetent (or plain stupid) that I (or someone) had to gradually take over their work (jobs) and do it for them. To save the project, and subsequently our money or job in it.

But, I was almost never officialy payd of it (or payd for it at all in some cases). I was still officialy hired and payd as art-person, period. I was almost never acknowledged for work on the design or managing the project. Mostly because my boss (the project manager) would have to lose his job or simply because of their ego. Or because I didn't really fight for it, afraid of loosing the, or future job(s).

I was -never- officialy credited for it in any of the projects, for the same reasons.
Blame this on my shy-ness / low self propagation as I'm a computer / art guy.
Or state of the game dev industry - more so in the country I started in.
Or partly a bad luck of being wrong places with wrong people.


The point is: I was never officialy payd for it. I was payd for my time, but still as art-person. Hence I don't know the prices or even the pricing models used for freelance game / app / software design.

I do though in fact have game / app / web solutions design experience from about 10 projects. Projects Im not credited for, though I have just finished first (badly payd?) official design job (that why my belated reply here), so I guess its getting better.

And I, at any rate, have very good idea, lot of experience -and- also a huge protfolio as computer artist. So waving me off as newb wouldn't be fair in any case ;)

I don't write this all to justify myself. More to sort it all for myself.
It might also give some idea about the industry to the beginners in it. ..or at least amusement whoever might stumble upon this :)


For the prices you mentioned (thank you again for that!):
I don't mean to argue with you. Just thinking..

I have to say that the 150 for "NON-established professional" got me stuck as incredibly (impossibly) high.
As experienced, NON-established freelance artist I think I started at measly $7 an hour.
Now I'm a lot higher, but nowhere near 150, and I know good game artists from US working for 20!

Is there really that big difference between art and design job ?
Or where do you come from and what kind of clients do you have to have this kind of salary ? (a rhetorical question ;)

And most important of all: don't you want to be my manager ?! :) Truth is that even if I gave you half of the 150/hour I would be better of then now.
I believe I'm skilled artist, designer and more but I guess I'm horrible at marketing (myself).

I don't want to be offensive when I say this but...

7$/hour is about the minimum I accepted when I was fifteen. Now, I don't work contracts much, but anything less than 20$/hour would (to me) be unacceptably low (considering all costs involved, I'd probably charge higher most of the time).

If I wanted to hire a serious professional designer, 50$/hr is probably the floor, with the top being a lot higher. Of course, then there are other factors to consider, but certainly working for very low rates will not get you where you want to be...

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I have to say that the 150 for "NON-established professional" got me stuck as incredibly (impossibly) high.
As experienced, NON-established freelance artist I think I started at measly $7 an hour.
Now I'm a lot higher, but nowhere near 150, and I know good game artists from US working for 20!


Based on your spelling and grammar I'm assuming you are not in the US, so costs are going to vary based on your location.

Start at the annual Game Developer Salary Survey to get a general idea of numbers in the US. You can look at their actual report to get the numbers for your area.

In the US, a professional game artist at a regular full-time job can average about $71,000 per year based on that report, roughly $35 per hour. They also receive many benefits such as medical insurance, paid time off, unemployment insurance, annual bonuses, other on-the-job perks and parties, and some job security.

After all the side benefits are tallied, an average regular salaried artist in the US probably earns closer to $40 per hour.


If you know good game artists in the US working for $20 per hour, let me know their names and I'll put them in touch with my studio. I'm sure we can negotiate a deal where they make at least $25/hr. ;-)



Contract workers do not get those benefits and correctly charge higher rates that account for those in their own lives. They also generally have higher costs involved in marketing and following job leads, and to cover the costs of their expenses such as computer equipment and software and supplies and such. They need to pay the costs of lawyers, their own taxes, their own general business fees, and their own overhead.

Professional contractors really do charge that much. Their own 'salary' is only a small part of the cost for a professional contractor. If they want to get a net profit of a comfortable $40-$50 per hour, they need an hourly rate at $150/hour or more to cover everything else. Normally it would be bid on a per-project basis, but when done at an hourly basis you can expect that kind of number.

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