Nepal has been rich in art and culture since the earliest centuries. There are many young and old people engaged in art and crafts. You can find both modern and historic art and architecture thriving in every corner and square around Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur valley, and many other parts of Nepal.
Today, Nepal's booming IT industry has led to many job opportunities and projects in this field. With more people working from home and stable internet and online tools – and lesser availability of good and experienced artists and designers – freelancing work opportunities have also boomed.
The Freelance Experience
I am a professional graphic designer and visual artist based in Kathmandu, Nepal. It has been almost 10 years since I began working in this field. Here is my experience with freelancing in Nepal.
At the beginning of my career as a designer, I would look forward and enrol myself in any freelance design gig and opportunities that came. Everything was considered and done, whether print designs or online marketing content. Now with that experience, I would like to share my personal thoughts on the pros and cons of freelancing in this place.
One of the only good sides is that not all the clients are wacky and selfish. I have met many people who have a good sense of design and looking forward to a well-done branding. They are ready to spend more and get more work done correctly. They understand the visual language, are experienced in this field and are ready to pay well. They even offer extra commissions and additional costs if they are satisfied and feel more work has been done. The only problem is these types of clients are very few in number.
The worst experience of freelancing is getting paid very little or none at all. If a client doesn't value the importance of visual identity, they don't want to invest much in it. People ask for discounts like they will feed more tasks and projects in return for silly discounts.
Some clients even consider artist exposure as payment. These clients believe a design is necessary for communication, but not much importance and effort is given. I myself have been rejected payment many times, even after completing the projects. I have even been paid low. Because of this, the project becomes redundant and uninteresting, leading to failure.
Even when work is done for free, proper attribution is seldom given, adding to the pain of a designer. You can spend hours on a project for a client, only for them to not give you any credit when the work goes out to the public.
Sometimes, the artists/designers are also the sources of problems. They are not professional and are ready to do anything for a cheap price and portfolio. Their taste in design is also bad, and their mediocre work is also responsible for making the clients unaware of good vs cheap designs.
However, the most common problem is that the client is the lead designer. This means that no matter how much you try to convince the clients with your original draft, the client is always sceptical and wants something inspired by the internet or his own.
Most of the time, the artist's effort and concept drafts are ignored and not understood. Most clients only worry about the iterations until they feel that they have assigned much time to the designer, and the final product is always less conceptual and more of their own idea. This is a very common problem I have personally faced with most of my clients. All my freelancing friends are facing this issue too.
I think the awareness of most people in Nepal regarding design and design thinking is still lacking. People should be able to identify good and bad designs and also get inspired by the designs they look at every day.
Sometimes, it can be very hard to explain the importance and value of design and brand identity to the clients. They take it as a secondary asset of the company, so clients don't look for good branding. People want quick designs; they don't want to allocate much time for the design project because of the lack of importance. How can good design be quick?
We should promote good art and design. Every corner shop and billboard should be filled with refreshing and well-done art styles and designs to provide visual experiences to the general public that instil proper and better design knowledge. One should value the art and design profession. The public should always look forward to the better and more original design than the copied ones.
Both the client and designer should be aware of the cost and time required to design. Discounts on design and free designs should not be encouraged. Exposure is not the alternative; a professional designer can manage it over time. Yes, the client network is valuable, but it cannot be equalled to the payment for the project. I believe that if every client is mindful of this issue, this can be prevented easily.
I hope you learned about the experience of freelancing as a designer in Nepal through this article. Stay tuned for more!