Anyone who is in the design profession has experience with at least one client questioning the suitability of design fees. Carol Cook, a principal in our firm, found one of the better explanations of charging for professional creative services from an incident that took place with Pablo Picasso.
A woman was sitting on a bench and glanced over at the gentleman sitting on the other end of the bench. On second glance, she realized it was none other than Pablo Picasso himself. "Oh my, I can't believe it! You're the great Picasso! Please sir, you must sketch me a portrait and I will not leave until you say yes!"
Picasso reluctantly agreed. He sat for a few minutes and studied her, then put his pencil to paper and in a very short time, completed the portrait. The time the pencil was on paper was measured in seconds, not minutes.
"It's magnificent!" she exclaimed. The woman was beaming and overjoyed that she now had, in fact, a truly original Picasso portrait of herself. "How much do I owe you sir!" the woman asked.
"Ten thousand dollars" replied Picasso without missing a beat or raising an eyebrow. He was completely serious.
The woman was completely shocked and said "Ten thousand dollars! That's preposterous! Why, it took you a very short time to do this!!!".
Picasso breathed deeply and then said "Madame, it took me my entire life."
Now we certainly don't want to compare KDC Associates with Picasso. Yes, we have our good days, but we aren't going to stretch ourselves to Picasso's level. Not close. However, it provides a very good analogy on the sometimes grey and fuzzy world of design fees. "How" a client says, "can 6 or 10 sheets of blueprints cost so much? How can these sheets of paper represent 9-12% of a project's cost"? Our answer is similar to what Picasso said. Our firm, as in any professional design firm, has hudreds of thousands of dollars that we (or our parents!) have spent on formal education with accredited universities. We then have tens of thousands of dollars spent annually on continuing education and travel every year. Combined, we have many, many decades of experience learning, observing, and honing our craft. Your project, and what you are spending money on, is not the paper. What you are spending design fees on is the built product, and all of the meetings, ideas, education, concepts, time, money, management, coordination, and communication that goes into that built product.
So maybe Picasso best expressed our sentiments on your particular project. It takes KDC's entire past history to come up with your design. When it is finished, we hope you will agree that it was worth it.