Tool #8: To pitch or not to pitch?

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Although pitching – i.e. supplying design services without, or with inadequate, payment – might often seem like the only way to establish a relation with interesting clients, it is more often than not an activity that undermines the economic viability of working as designers.

The Design Institute of Australia (DIA) has created an insightful document against the practices of pitching, in which they argue, amongst other things, that:

• Pitching dramatically undercuts the financial viability of a design business, both in the short and long term.
• Pitching aggressively devalues the critical intellectual component inherent in all design.
• By devaluing individual designers or their businesses, pitching denigrates the design industry as a whole and makes it significantly harder for all designers to obtain a financially viable living.
• Pitching is almost entirely designed to deliver short term financial benefit to the client, at the direct expense of the designer.
• Pitches are often ‘assessed’ by the client according to highly subjective guidelines that may bear no relation to realistic design principles whatever.
• Pitching sets up an exploitative business and working relationship between the designer and client from the very start, which is bound to cause further difficulties and result in poor design outcomes.

DIA Free Pitching Policy
The DIA’s thought-provoking Free Pitching Policy, which also contains a useful Free Pitching Matrix.

Protest letter against unfair design contests
The website brings together valuable positions against speculative design, both from the viewpoint of designers and of clients.

Last edit: 19.05.2014