Tuesday, December 16th, 2008...12:30 am
Freelance Does Not Mean Free
Currently, I am a "freelance artist." But let’s take about the first part of that term "freelance" shall we? The word ‘free’ in the English dictionary has close to fifty definitions. That’s right I said fifty. To read them all you can click here. The big ones that might pertain to me as a freelancer, however, include such things as: "enjoying personal rights or liberty," "able to do something at will," "not occupied or in use," and "exempt from external authority." Being that I don’t have a job outside of the work I do at home, these terms should fit my life quite nicely. Only, they don’t. Right now, currently I am a slave to my computer. I spend anywhere from 8 to 10 to even 14 and sometimes 18 hours a day on research, self education, self promotion / marketing, networking, writing, designing, and working on projects in general.
So, what part of this word "free" is making sense here? Can it be the part of the definition that includes ‘provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment’? Yeah, right! Only for some reason, I have been feeling that this is becoming the mentality of a lot of my clients. In fact, it seems that the offers I have been getting lately are decreasing in value at an alarming rate. I also know that I am not the only freelancer going through this. Because of this, I have come to ask myself, why is this happening?
Could it be due to the state of the economy within recent years? Could it be that it is becoming easier and easier to retain the resources and computer programs needed to self educate and therefor just about anyone these days can claim to be a ‘designer’? Could it be that due to the Internet the market has been opened to global competition? Could it be that the design industry is so vast and so broad that a set of standards, codes and regulations have yet to be defined? Could it be that we as professional designers do not take the time to educate our clients and those that believe it to be "so easy" on just what it is we actually do? Could it be that contest bidding sites such as CrowdSpring and 99Designs are teaching the general masses that it’s OK to pit us against each other and pay as low as you can go? Or could it even be that we as designers have adopted an "every man/woman for themselves" state of mind?
I think we, as a design community, need to start to work together to redefine that term freelance. I think free should now focus on us being "frank and open" with our clients and others about what it is that we do for a living. That our work may not "be used by or is open to all" unless we as the rightful owners decide to give it away and still maintain the rights to our work. That our work is no longer going to be "traveling without power." That working within the design community should no longer be "not subject to rules." That no longer should anyone feel free to treat our field "with too much familiarity" or "take liberties with" due to ease of accessibility. That we should be able to "release (ourselves) from (the) bondage" that ties us to our computers. And that above all we as designers should stop "acting without self-restraint or reserve" and start saying NO these low offers and contest bidding sites!!!
United we stand – divided, we fall to the subject to the term "freelance."