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HOW Design Live: A Fun Pricing Game, and a Memorable Conference

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 07, 2016

The Guild was invited to participate at HOW Design Live this past May, and decided to contribute a live version of our Pricing Game. For years, the Pricing Game has been one of our most popular webinars. Its advent was as a live event, created by the Boston Chapter of the Guild about 25 years ago, and continued annually by the New York Chapter for many years. (For the uninitiated, during the Game, the audience reviews the specs for actual design projects, and “bids” on what they would charge. Afterwards, the actual estimated and invoiced prices are revealed, and the designer’s pricing techniques are discussed.) While the format works as a webinar, the opportunity to bring it back live, with audience participation, was exciting.

For the HOW Design Live (HDL) Pricing Game, we solicited the work from three Guild members, all designers: Todd LeMieux (who is also our New England rep), Jonnie Bailey, and Peiro Salardi. Each contributed a beautiful piece of design – logo, brochure, and logo plus packaging, respectively – and more importantly, each had followed best practices in pricing and managing the project. The result was that the HDL Pricing Game attendees were treated to examples of beautiful work, as well as valuable insight into how competent professional designers conduct their business. The event was well received, in large part because the audience was so engaged in debating and defending their prices. A highlight was the heated (but polite) debate between “Mr. $500” and “Mr. $35,000”, who contested what the correct price for LeMieux’s logo design should be. (One was an independent designer working out of a small town, and the other worked in-house for a large branding agency – hence the huge pricing disrepency.)

Below: Last minute prep (and hyperventilating) before the presentation on Sunday.

HOW Design Live Pricing Game presentationHOW Design Live room sign

Overall, HOW Design Live was an inspiring conference. Presentations were organized into concurrent morning and afternoon sessions, with morning, noon, and evening keynote addresses. The organizers covered a wide base of topics, from very practical advice (such as our Pricing Game), to diversity, to entrepreneurial advice, to the purely creative and inspirational. The conference drew well-known speakers, such as Stefan Sagmeister, Chip Kidd, and Debbie Millman. Many of the presentations were memorable and unique, such as James Victore urging designers to celebrate their weirdness, Ellen Luna advising to let go of the “shoulds,” and Frederick Ost and Magnus Berg punctuating their gleefully obscene talk with live rock-and-roll.  

The unexpected bonus to HDL was connecting (and reconnecting) with other artist advocates. Highlights were a discussion with attorney Katie Lane on how we can educate better on intellectual property, and the evening spent catching up with art licensor J’net. Those discussions, and the interactions with HDL participants – during coaching sessions, or answering questions after the Pricing Game, or connecting with the local AIGA chapter – made HDL a truly wonderful experience.

Below: With slides like this, no wonder James Victore’s keynote address was wildly popular.

James Victore at HOW Design Live

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