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The AGDA’s Code of Ethics is intended to provide protection for both designers and clients through what constitutes ‘fair play’. These codes outline the do’s and don’ts of taking on design jobs both within and out of Australia under a membership of the AGDA.
(Some codes have not been commented on by myself as I deem them common sense codes, such as the High Standards of design clause under section 2.4 of the Member’s Responsibilities to the Community)
Some of these codes discourage working with clients that may be deemed as a personal conflict of interest such as a family member, friends, or their businesses. This can be quite difficult to do as a young designer as in some cases, it is who you know, not what you know. That being said, personal conflicts can expect a better quality of work, done quickly, and/or done for a fraction of the cost due to “mates rates”. We are all trying to put food on our tables. Compromise on cost = compromise on self-worth. I have experienced situations similar to this, and have distanced myself from that client.
Confidentiality is a strict standard and a Non-Disclosure Agreement should be put in place to ensure all clients information is withheld from the public records. If information about client’s organization and activities are leaked, they would be enforced.
Other codes that young designers like myself have to be cautious of are predatory pricing, which can damage the economic viability of their business. Predatory pricing practices such as free pitching, loss leading and other pricing below break-even are to be avoided.
Before taking on a series of clients, it is best that you inform your current and potential client about the catalogue of projects that you currently have underway. This gives all parties an understanding of what timeframe adjustments might occur from this additional workload. Not only that, it is also a matter of professional courtesy, and is encouraged to maintain a healthy, open relationship with your clients.
Do not plagiarise.
Do not denigrate or belittle the work or reputation of another designer. As a competitive as this industry is, just don’t do it. It costs nothing to not be an asshole.
In order to secure commissions, it is essential to present a proposal which outlines an understanding of the brief, how the project will be undertaken, and a cost estimate. In addition to this, examples of work, qualifications and details of experience is also helpful. It is also essential to have a client approve your proposal in writing to validate the consensual agreement for work to commence.
This would include a task breakdown, a more detailed costs breakdown (or an hourly fee to be calculated), the terms and conditions for the design work’s undertaking, completion, and payment, and the disclosures that are set out in the Code.
Avoid free pitching. This predatory method of providing work in a competition-like fashion is used by clients in order to drive the price of a design down via free submissions. “Why should I pay $3,000 for this logo, when the work’s already done?”
Unpaid competitive tendering… No thanks.
If you are a member of the AGDA, design competitions must only be participated in IF the competition meets the AGDA guidelines.
When working in a collaborative effort, all designers and consultants must be credited for the specific areas of authorship. Ownership cannot be claimed if the project has been altered substantially from which the work was completed.
Overall, these codes are considered to be common sense to me. However, this may be because of my feet already being in the water as a freelance designer. Over the years I have taken a step back and only taken on regular returning clients work as I am also working as a Sign writer in Archerfield and the only time left to do design work is incredibly limited whilst studying full-time.
Over the Christmas break, I will promote myself more and make myself available for more clients whilst altering my pre-existing costs estimates and proposals.