A Design Pro Gives You Access to the Work You Paid For.

When a new client hires me to do a design job it never fails to shock me afresh when I ask for the files of something as basic as their company logo and their answer ultimately is they haven’t got it. Oh sure, it’s on their website, their business card, their letterhead, but they don’t seem to own a final version of it in any editable format!

Professional conduct in the field of design doesn’t include hoarding the paid work! As a ranking member of the Graphic Artists Guild in the 1990’s, I was honored to meet and work with designers whose work has influenced far reaching trends throughout all of our consumer lives. From this august collective I learned how to value, sell and properly protect my work. I also learned the terms typical of the sale of design work. Basically what it comes down to is:

  1. You hire me.
  2. I do the work
  3. You pay for the work.
  4. I give you a final copy of the work.

Access to the designs you accept and have paid for is standard, especially if that’s how you all wrote out your Contract or Agreement; but really it shouldn’t even have to be written. An ethical design pro is going to naturally offer that. What this means is sending a copy of the final version of a project you create once it’s fully accepted and paid for is the right thing to do.


So if your designer has made a logo you love and use – and paid for – you should expect her to get to you the properly composed component file she created the thing with! Not just the flattened jpgs or pdfs – but the editable master Photoshop or Illustrator file. (NOTE: here’s a shorthand way to determine if you’re working with a design pro or not – if they’re using something other than programs from Adobe’s Creative Suite of software programs to create their work. These include: Photoshop, Illustrator, FlashPro, InDesign, and maybe even DreamWeaver and Fireworks – though for web site development these days open source CMS – content management systems –  like the WordPress and Joomla engines have begun to reign supreme.)

Web Sites

If it’s a web site, it should be registered using your company’s information and account. It should not be registered under your designer unless you absolutely do not want access and are willing to lose it should anything happen to your relationship with the designer – or should they cease operations for whatever reason.

Your web site should be in your company’s name with you or a position within your organization named as the main administrator. Your designer can be assigned as a technical or otherwise defined expert administrator. But you should maintain full control and ownership at the highest level of access, not your designer. This way you can never be locked out of your own site. I’ve seen that happen. It’s not nice.

Additionally, you should expect to end up with a FINAL master file of everything you pay to have produced. Designers get busy and changes and tweaks are many – and in this new flexible world of production options it’s hard to know for sure when something has really attained its full final form…but if your request for a Master copy of one of these Final forms of a project you’ve paid for goes unheeded or gets flat-out refused, something’s wrong.

And now for the final installment in this series – the Designer Bully.

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