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15 August 2018
Thursday, 28th June 2012
How much do I charge
The sprat to catch a mackerel myth
When times are tough and budgets are tight it can be tempting to do work for less than your normal rate. And in some cases it may be tempting to actually work for free - with the expectation of praise – everyone telling you how creative and wonderful you are, and the promise of a bigger job to come. 

But when bigger projects do come along and a bigger budget is available. Does the smaller business handing out favours get the bigger job? From my experience, rarely. 

Starting up my new business – Cooke With An E, with a global recession in full swing has been a challenge. And for all my experience and “I should have known better” ringing in my ears, I’ve worked on the occasional project for little or no money and even less praise. And once someone gets something for nothing they expect more of the same. 

So what to do? For me, working closely with a client is very important. Developing a relationship of trust and real value takes time. Free pitches for potential new clients rarely offer the opportunity to collaborate effectively. Pro Bono work is ‘good’ as long as there is a clear understanding at the outset, what is expected by both parties. Adding value is not doing more for less money but doing what’s the most effective for the budget available. I like to think that creativity is an investment rather than a cost.

If you want good design, first of all find someone whose work you like. Don't tell them what you want, but discuss what you'd like to achieve – they are the experts. Work out how much you can afford or would like to spend. Saying you don't have a budget and asking for a quote is unrealistic, if you are expecting a Rolls Royce for the price of a Toyota. If you are working with someone you trust, you have to believe they're going to do their very best to get the most from your budget. 

So how much do I charge? The $64,000,000 question! The only people I know who get away with charging hourly rates are lawyers! Working within an overall budget – every stage of a project is estimated – no work is started until everyone is happy and all budgets have been agreed. This way there are no suprises ... apart from the work which invariably exceeds their expectations!

Saturday, 23rd June 2012
A face of the seventies
David Bowie Live Santa Monica '72
It was 1972, my first year at art college and at nights I’d lie on the sofa, in the living room (also my bedroom) of a tiny house I shared with 3 others, and drift into another world – the world of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – where all men were stick-thin, wore makeup and tight clothes. 

David Bowie was my first role model. I starved myself to achieve his androgynous physique. I was 6ft tall, weighed 140lb and became an expert in makeup. 

Flash forward 40 years – I’m sprawled on my Charles Eames recliner, watching the tv on my 40” flat screen Sony when my idol from yesteryear appears on the screen. David Bowie and the Story of Ziggy Stardust on BBC 4 held me transfixed. The music brought another life sharply back into focus. Two thirds of the way through, an image of a poster flashed on the screen, promoting his gig in Santa Monica – the concert that introduced him to America and made him into a global superstar. What made me leap from my Charles Eames recliner was the recognition of an old friend! The typeface used on the poster was one I’d designed as a student in 1975. I’d had a couple of my favourite Johny Walkers earlier but how could that be? The concert was in 1972. 

After the programme had finished, I searched Google and discovered the Album of the concert (originally a bootleg) had been released much later. The typeface was produced originally as a rub-down transfer and so on the poster and album cover there’s a few weird things going on with alignment and the odd character upside down – but it’s quirky, of its time – a bit like Mr Bowie!

Friday, 01st June 2012
I HATE NY Campaign
A new campaign that's meant to breathe new life into Milton Glaser's iconic logo
I’ve always been a big fan of Milton Glaser’s I HEART NY logo. When I read in The Times today, that there was a campaign insitigated by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to replace the logo I was aghast! 

Apparently, the idea is supposedly to give more meaning to the logo that everyone in the world and their mother has adopted, by replacing NY with everything from Moscow to Manchester. 

After viewing the campaign, I sort of get what they are trying to do , the sadness is that it’s so badly done. It devalues the logo insteads of enhancing it. The idea that ‘ordinary people’ scribble what they love about NY to replace the heart is contrived and not convincing. They would have been better off to have commissioned Milton Glaser to design NY symbols to replace the heart. It would have resulted in a more meaningful campaign visually and possibly created icons that no-one else could plaguarise.