The Price Of Design

In a recent lecture my tutor talked about the amount of time we spent on our projects and how we can relate them to the ‘real world’. Keeping a project time sheet is one way of doing this as it lets you see how much time you spent working on it. This was a practice that I was encouraged to pick up in college (I went to the Glasgow Metropolitan College before coming to DJCAD). My tutor there told us to note down what time we started working, to the minute, and what time we finished. If we stopped for a break or to chat to someone we had to deduct it from our hours. Keeping track of my time like this soon made me realize just how much time sauntering off for a coffee took… It also encouraged me to work more because I wanted to earn more. Our tutor told us that we were on an imaginary £50 an hour so I often found myself working half of my lunch break to earn another £25!

The novelty of the imaginary wages barely lasted a full project but the practice of the time sheet has stayed with me. I often keep two pages free in my sketchbooks to note down the time I spend working on the project. I also briefly write down what I was doing as well, eg. research, computer. I will admit however that they often flag towards the end and the last few days very rarely get recorded. I am going to put a big sign above my desk though when I get back up to Dundee.  I did this when I was doing my Graded Unit at college because it was part of the brief that we had an accurate time sheet.

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In fact, using my completely complete, accurate Graded Unit time sheet I am going to calculate how much the project would have cost. My tutor at DJCAD gave us a guide for doing this so I’m going to test it out:

  1. Okay so I would like to earn say, £25,000 (the average graduate starting salary)

  2. Divided by 1000, this is £25 so that’s my hourly rate.

  3. From Wednesday the 31st March 2010 to Thursday 29th April 2010 I spent 162 hours (and five minutes but i’ll let that go) on the project. Multiplied by £25 this is £4050.00

  4. I would have had to rent a studio so that would have roughly cost £300 for that month plus say another £100 for bills. I remember spending a fortune on my graded unit materials for things like paper, mounting board, printing, getting my book made so I am going to put £200 for materials as well.

  5. I am not too sure about calculating depreciation but say my laptop, printer, camera and adobe software all came to £3200. They have a life span of say three years so I divide that by 900. So depreciation works out at £3.50 per day.

  6. So £4050 + £600.00 + (£3.50 × 30) £105 = £4755.00

  7. Added to this is 12% for my pension and 20% for insurance and other payments (as I am working freelance) So: £4755.00 + £570.60 + £951.00 = £6276.60

Wow. Firstly I cannot believe how much time I spent on the project! It was a thirty day project so multiplied by twelve this is three hundred and sixty. I spent one hundred and sixty two hours working on it which is forty five percent of my time. At the time, I felt as though my graded unit had taken over my life but that doesn’t actually seem like that much time? Although, I did have two part time weekend jobs so maybe it was!

What surprises me more however is that, multiplying this month long project by eleven (say I had a month’s holidays a year) it comes to £50,105. I only earn £25,000 of this which means that running costs equal the full salary of a freelancer! In fact, I’m forgetting that the running costs would still apply for the twelfth month! This is all of course just speculation but it gives me some idea of the actual cost of design. (I wonder how long I can stay at university?)


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