Thanks to Adobe’s decision to discontinue the Creative Suite,
I’ve been rereading The Cult of the Amateur, by Andrew Keen.
Designers are about to see even more amateur competition
thanks to the Creative Cloud, so I figured that rereading The Cult of the Amateur would be valuable. I’m almost positive that it was Professor
Fox who got me onto this book and for that I am very grateful. It has
been constructive to re-evaluate this book mainly because Keen’s argumentative abilities have inspired my methods for Project B’s articulation. If any of you are trying to prepare for future classes,
get your hands on this book.
Under a title, “The Cost of Democratization,” Keen writes, “This
blurring of lines between the audience and the author, between fact
and fiction, between invention and reality further obscures objectivity.
The cult of the amateur has made it increasingly difficult to determine
the difference between reader and writer, between artist and spin-doctor,
between art and advertisement, between amateur and expert. The result?
The decline of the quality and reliability of the information we receive,
thereby distorting, if not outrightly corrupting, our national civic conversation.”
Keen hit the nail on the head with the “corrupting our national civic conversation” line. Yesterday, I went to my 2nd job, Bevchek (that job I
have where I get to be a designer all of the time), to discuss payment for several design jobs that I have already finished. Thanks to the flood of amateurs that call themselves, “graphic designers,” I felt that I had to
low blow my boss with numbers. Thanks to all of the amateur fairies
floating around my head, I said “give me $150 per project.” Steve, my
boss, said, “No. I’m giving you $500 per project because you deserve
it.” My mind was blown. If the above said conversation wasn’t the
result of a corruption of our national civic discourse, I don’t know
what is. Lucky for me, Steve saw the value of my work even though
I felt I had to entice him with low numbers because of amateur
competition. At the end of the conversation, Steve said, “Don’t
worry about trying to save me money so that I will keep you
around, I’m going to keep you around anyways because
marketing is the future of this company. That means that
YOU are my FUTURE. You are the entire marketing
team and that means, you’re my best friend.”
There ARE business owners and CEOs out there, like Steve,
that DO see the value of an expert graphic designer, a professional,
compared to an amateur. This pay scale, coming directly from the Vice
President and CEO of the company, has been a giant leap for me. I got
paid $500 for about 3 hours of work (1 project), meaning that my entire
paycheck for 5 projects (I’ve already finished 4), will equal out to getting
paid for 30 days of work at my main job (the clinic). Thanks to my
education thus far at SCAD, I just doubled my annual income. At first,
I was ready to jump for joy, but then I started thinking, “Do amateurs
get paid this same amount? Are they really getting paid this much
when, meanwhile, I’ve been spending the past 8 years in higher
education trying to perfect my skill?” Immediately after these
thoughts stopped racking my brain, I said out loud, “That
would be bogus.” Thank God, nobody was around to see me
talking to myself.
If there is a main lesson that I have taken away from The Cult of the
Amateur, it is that as designers, we should not allow the influence of
amateur work to determine our value as experts. If the professionals
don’t conform, higher standards can stay.
Keen, Andrew. The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing
Our Culture. New York: Doubleday/Currency, 2007. Print.