Designers often ask me whether they should charge by the hour or by the project. This tale is the best answer I can find in favour of the latter.

Picasso Brigitte BardotPicasso and Brigitte Bardot, Getty Images

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

"It's you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist."

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

"It's perfect!" she gushed. "You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?"

"Five thousand dollars," the artist replied.

"But, what?" the woman sputtered. "How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!"

To which Picasso responded, "Madame, it took me my entire life."

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Quoted from How to charge, one of the archived posts on 1099 — "the magazine for independent professionals." The post was written by Ellen Rohr, author of How Much Should I Charge?

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