No, You Can’t Have The Original Files For Free

Screenshot 2014-12-06 00.20.33
I knew it was going to happen. Even though it’s not the first time, this is leaving me aghast.

The budget is fixed, the project settled: leaflet creation. You put yourself to work, send the first drafts and final design weeks after that. Multiple modifications kicking in, because simple projects are not always that simple, who said a leaflet creation was a piece of cake? Week 3, you still pursuing your payment, the client is out of town for the weekend, and wants to make many print test runs to see / ‘make sure’ that everything’s OK. You arguing that it’s useless because the files aren’t in the proper resolution anyway. They’ll be when the final payment will get cashed in. Another modifications…okay… week 4 you see the cash..send the files. Then you get a final request: “can we have the original editable files of this project?”

This is the “are you kidding me?” part. If you slam your laptop, you’ll be out of business so you better take a walk, come back , make some tea and maybe write a blog post while you sipping it. The client call you -while you are writing-, furious, and the conversation goes like this -God, the tea does really help- :

“I thought that I was paying for the originals! Usually that’s what happening” the client says
“I’m sorry to hear that but these are the wrong practices in my field of work, we ‘usually’ charge for the originals, if it wasn’t the case there would be no designers, just clients trying to do some bad work with native files” the designer replies
“But…you didn’t tell me this before!”
“Well, you did tell me this at the very end of the project…”
“That’s impossible I’ll tear your leaflet up, you can keep the money anyway!”
“It would be a shame if you did, after all these ‘free’ modifications and back and forths on the design made for your business, design that you really liked and that will get you many new clients by the way.”
“Seriously, if I gave this job to my printer, or someone with a computer, I’d get the originals”
“Printers are not designers, computer owners are not designers, a graphic designer isn’t just someone running in a wheel with a computer , Photoshop is a professional tool that takes an entire life to master…”
“Keep the money, I’m done with you, I thought it was a friendly gesture.”
“We are a business, a communication business, this is our business…we pay our Photoshop membership (among other things) with this money so thank you…”

I hear you saying ‘oh you are not flexible, give the client what they want, this is business in Africa, this is how you are going to gain exposure, bla bla bla’. Don’t get me wrong, I wrote a post about the clients and how some may think they are king and can command to designers to do cartwheels in their garden.
Let me put it down, and I mean every words: the clients have a great nose for fear and desperation.

Yet so many designers have been scared to say NO to their clients. Fear? Reputation? Money? That’s why this job got downplayed, disrespected and under estimated. I think it can change by starting to doing it right.

The cook will not giving you the restaurant’s recipe away for free, the architect will not give you the blueprint of the house for free, the company you buying your computer from will not give you the patents for free. Why the hell you thinking designers are different? Just because you see them zoning, freelancing and knocking doors trying to make a living make you think they are desperate, craving for the money and that gives you the right to be ‘king’.

Let me charge you for this, please.


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