(Be Polite, Be Efficient, Have a Plan to Kill everyone you meet!)
Yes sir-e, now it’s time to stop mucking about and get professional. How? Well that’s easy, with the help of my self-titled: ‘Codex Professionalem’:
- Don’t ever do anything as though you were an amateur, do it as a professional.
- A professional learns every aspect of the job.
- An amateur skips the learning process whenever possible.
- A professional speaks and dresses like a professional.
- A professional is focused and clear-headed.
- An amateur is confused and distracted.
- A professional does not let mistakes slide by.
- An amateur ignores or hides mistakes.
- A professional handles money and accounts very carefully.
- A professional will deal with problems.
- An amateur avoids problems.
- A professional persists until the objective is achieved.
- An amateur gives up at the first opportunity.
- A professional produces a high-quality product or service.
- An amateur produces medium-to-low quality service.
- A professional earns high pay.
- An amateur earns low pay and feels it’s unfair.
So, what is Professionalism? A professional is someone who has skills. Experience in their field, or from a broad range of knowledge.
A Professional is someone who is honourable – that is, who honours agreements and bonds set up by them and their clients.
A Professional should be constantly learning, improving and honing their skills. A Professional is someone who knows that all things can be improved upon, even in negligible quantities.
To be seen as a professional, one must hold credibility in the eyes of the public, and with time, this credibility will become legitimacy, both legally, and morally, meaning that more will listen to the professional and they can grow their influence.
Classically, A profession was only to be found in Law, Ministry or Medicine, where a professional of their respective class, must ‘profess’ upon a standard of accountability – in the case of Law, one must tell the truth, the truth and nothing BUT the truth or face charges for their crimes. In Ministry, one must swear upon god’s grace and to uphold the teachings of the holy book, or face damnation. In Medicine, one must swear upon the hypocratic oath, vowing to do no harm, or face charges for their negligence, as well as the guilt of injuring their charge.
Each of these professions require extensive knowledge in their fields, as well as training in the meaning and value of their respective oaths.
While there exists no formal – or informal for that matter – oath for graphic design, unwritten rules are still followed, mostly based off of morals, such as those mentioned above.
Building upon these morals and rules is how a designer; not only grows, but also gains fiscal benefits. Designers – often – don’t work for a set price, and may charge for their services differently, depending on the challenge they have been set, the timeframe they have to work with and how skilful they as a designer feel they are.
Commonly, designers charge on a ‘by hour’ rate, but only spend half their time designing.
Below is an example of how to calcite an hourly rate for an average FREELANCE designer.
Gross Annual Salary required £25,000
A Gross annual income required £38,000
Total available working days per year 230 days
Multiply average working hours per day 6 hours
(Average working day of 8 hours, less time taken for admin and lunch break)
B Total number of working hours per year 1380 hours
To calculate the hourly rate, divide A by B = 38,000 divided by 1380 = £27.53
Therefore, hourly rate = £28.00 per hour
This final hourly rate could be doubled, if non-design activities are to be considered.
Building upon this, is Time-sheets, and general time-keeping as a whole. Time is an important construct, and no where is it more important than when it governs someone’s wages. So, much like wages, time must be kept track of and valued accordingly.
The most common way of dividing up time is via a Timesheet: A board, denoting the customers and the designer who will liaise with them, and the activity that they will undertake together. Another is a method known as ‘The Job Bag’.
The Job Bag is a large board, with all the activities that all designers are working on, when they are to be completed by and by who.
Both of these are used more commonly in design studios, and both work by measuring the amount of time spent with the client/working on the clients brief in almost any form, from concept work, up to the final printing.
To further drive this metaphorical nail in, I’m going to write a mock-up letter to a client for some work that I’ve been commissioned to produce. Below is both the original as an image, as well as a transcript of the image’s content:
“I hope you’re doing well, Mr J. Statham.
We are looking for a talented and hard working, Junior Graphic Designer to join our team of creatives.
Spot-on is a well established, award-winning design company, with a growing and broad client portfolio.
This is a great opportunity to make your mark and produce some exciting work.
If you are passionate about graphic design, keen to flex your muscles, and are not afraid of hard work, then we would like to hear from you.
Preferably 2 years experience.
Excellent career prospects.
Salary negotiable (please advise of current salary or if college graduate, expected salary)
Apply in writing to
New York House,