Monday, September 12, 2011

The Great Design Team Debate

There was a raging debate flying around the Internet over the weekend, .....the essence of which was, should Design Team contributors/bloggers be paid for their services or just receive free product?

You can bring yourself up to speed on Crafty Pod's Blog or Craft Test Dummies Facebook Page. Unfortunately, Creative Paper Clays Blog has removed all but one comment from the original post that generated all the controversy in the first place.

All sides have valid points. Many designers are quite happy to be paid in product, figuring they create and buy the product anyway, why not get the product for free? Quite a few are "not in it for the money", but because they enjoy the creative process. Plus they get their blog linked to a "major company", and get exposure in the creative community. Maybe even get "discovered" and become world famous....

The other side feels that not being paid reduces the value of every one's contribution. And that the manufacturers are taking advantage of artists by getting free designs as well as access to that bloggers social media platform for no financial remuneration.

And the manufacturers that sponsor design teams without paying them feel that they are being up front with what they are offering, and if a design team member is willing to accept the terms, what is the big deal? Not to mention, the current economic climate has put a damper on every one's marketing revenue, and this is one way to get exposure without investing any cash.

Hmmmm......as a very wise person once told me, sometimes you have to just agree to disagree. I have worn all 3 hats, so I can relate to all 3 perspectives. As an artist, I love the creative process and creating a piece I am happy with gives me more satisfaction than any amount of $ could. However, as an artist with experience and skillz, I am not afraid to price my work so that I am fairly compensated for my time and talent. I am also the owner of Grand River Beads & Gift Gallery, and as a small biz owner surviving the last 3 years of the current economic climate has made me acutely aware of the challenges entrepreneurs face and the need to cut costs just to survive.

But I think there are 2 principles we can all agree on. First, you get what you pay for. If you want cheap labor, you are going to get unreliable help and a constant turnover, which in the long run can be more costly than paying a fair price to begin with. And second, as in life, as in marriage, as in politics, compromise is the name of the game. I feel that a good workable compromise might be a sliding remunerative scale. In the real world, some employees are more valuable to the company because a) they have more experience, and b) they generate more revenue for the company. This model would allow entry level designers to work for product, but as their readership grows, experience accumulates and design talent evolves, they get a "salary adjustment". Heavy hitters in the art world might also be more inclined to create/blog for companies if they were paid more than the industry standard of $50 per month.

Just my 2 cents....and now I'm off to create something, overprice it, and put it in my unvisited gallery....KIDDING....except for the creating part....:-)