Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Illustration Pricing and Rights

Hi Everyone, I have some questions about pricing and rights and was hoping to get some sound advice. 1) Are any pricing guidelines for illustration here in Singapore according to the medium it's used for as well as size? 2) Do licensing rights and contracts apply here? As companies presume we've "sold" the copyrights to our art to them according to what we've charged.
3) For the full-timers - how do you protect and feed yourself considering there are so many out there trying to take advantage of us? I've been using the graphic artist's guild handbook as a guide tho' bearing in mind they price not just in USD, but also way higher. Whereas clients here think illustration should come cheap and do take advantage most times. There are times I feel a little discouraged... Thank you for your time thinking about those questions and I look forward to hearing from you all soon. Btw, am I the only one who's got such questions to ask? :)


mindflyer 小飞人 said...

Hi Manda- good that u post this questions:

1) Not that i knw of. All our information comes from practice, heart-pain and alot of "wall banging" :D.
2) Rights- Don't be fooled. We always own our rights. If the client wants to own the rights to what we have created- they have to pay us fairly for our work. So far I always state it clearly that contract is for USE of work and not SALE of rights unless otherwise stated.
3) When in doubt consult those who have experience or info about certain issues. But..... don't just treat the OIC members here as a free-for-all walking "dictionary"- we hope to learn from everyone here too :). If u have gathered useful info- share it here and help us build up the group into a thriving helpful community.

sei-ji rakugaki said...

Hi Amanda,

1.I think there is an "unofficial" price guide but it also depends on the purpose of illustrations for-magazines?school textbooks?advertisments etc..For example, if you do illustrations for some of the local book publishers, it can be as low as SGD $60 for an A4 size, but you are doing it in bulk(cos a textbook will have alot of illustrations).
On the other hand, magazine publisher might be able to offer better rates as it is usually a few spot illustrations in comparisons, although in some cases,the money might work out to be more or less the same
And do not be discouraged, and as illustrators, part of our job is to educate the clients when they feel it should be cheap etc.
Hope my rambling helps abit.

Christine Lim Simpson said...

Hi Amanda, how are you?
You are definitely not the only one asking these questions, and I am glad you took time to ask. It took me some time to read different books about rights and contract law. In Singapore (and most part of Asia, except in Japan probably), there isn't any "body" (like a artists guild or a proper illustrators association like SCBWI) to protect us. It is up to us, the illustrators, to say yes or no to the terms and conditions set by the clients or publishers. As you have heard my story when we first met, I always emphasize - do you homework, stand for your rights, negotiate the contract and don't easily give in to protect your integrity. It's hard not to be businesslike some times.

Regarding pricing, to be honest, I don't think I am paid enough for the time and effort spend on each job. The reasons that I am still doing kids book is because I personally love children books and there are writers with good stories that need great illustrations to go with their writings. For now, all the books I did are little stepping stones to better work opportunities. Hopefully some day I get to illustrate for publishers in the US or UK. I did give up a publishing deal that seemed "once in a lifetime" but am pleased that I did not surrender all my rights away ... nothing lost in the end. I just keep illustrating to improve my skill. At the moment I am working on my first trade book. I am glad I waited.

About licensing rights, I did license my art for merchandises (clothes, bags, etc). I earn royalties for what is printed or sold. I own all rights to all the illustrations I did for the publishers but they have the license to publish them - meaning, I can sell, exhibit, reproduce my paintings on its own (without text). I think many illustrators do work-for-hire for commercial jobs.

Contracts - request for one or draft one for the client.

Question 3 ... I have learned that if the price, terms, conditions, timing, is unfair, I just say no - cannot lah! ;)

It will be good if we can establish a standard in Singapore.

Don’t be too discourage, my friend. Keep drawing :)

Christine Lim Simpson said...
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Parka said...

The only accurate pricing guideline is to determine how much your time is worth. Then price accordingly.

For certain companies, they are only allowed to pay a certain amount based on certain criteria, such as size.

You have the copyright to whatever you create. Who ever commissioned you for assignment typically only have the rights to publish it once. But make sure you state all this up front to the client.

mindflyer 小飞人 said...

Don't be afraid to ask or clarify and defend what you know is right or better for you. Don't sign blindly.
To cite a recent contract received by our member- there were afew things we feel were not fair to the illustrator. So we pointed it out and counter propose what we deem was fair and the client accepted it :). So don't be afraid to speak out ( nicely :) )

Amanda said...

oooo... :) thank you ALL for the feedback! It's "good" to hear that not just I alone but Mike also had his fair share of heart pain too, so that means I'm normal. :p and Christine's sharing did help me see some light. A recent client told me they paid the previous illustrator a flat rate after which they could use it on anything they wanted. Whilst I had provided a contract of licensing rights for the specific item I was illustrating for. Many clients aren't used to it the different rights and think a flat rate meant they bought the art. This was the same with another client who didn't want to pay royalties for some illustrations for t-shirts and got me super ticked when they said it was hard to justify the time spent on my illustrations and therefore didn't think I should be paid that much. And they were paying peanuts; told me about oil prices, cost of labour in China, etc and I basically told them I wasn't free after. *sigh* so many bad stories... but I still hold onto hope that it's not all that bad... somehow...

mindflyer 小飞人 said...

Its an uphill battle my dear- its a major blood letting session- but we still have to educate the client because its our rice bowl. We all have a part to play- everyone of us in this market. State clearly in our agreement what they are paying us for. From my experience- most clients are very fair and those that arent' are really those that you wouldn't want to do business with in future. So nuke them before they "rob" you. :D

zeropointfive said...

Hey Amanda, nice post! i have some questions burning in my mind too regarding copyright!

Thanks mike for pointing out the "use of work" and "sale of work" difference! See! information like that is really good! But how do we cover all the bases? Can i ask all you illustrators out there whether you devise your own generic contract? Do you have to work with a lawyer for that? Without the benefit of a lawyer or a friend who knows law, how can we devise our own contracts? Does it need to be phrased in an official "lawyer language" way or can we just make our own rules and phrase them our own way? Does the contract need to be officially authorized by an institution or government body?

i have to agree with seiji, pricing is fast and loose depending on bulk of work and how much time is spent on it. Of course, other factors like who ur client is matters to me as well (i wouldn't charge the same price to NIKE as i would to someone starting their own business and onyl have a small budget - but of course there IS a minimum standard to uphold, can't spoil the market for everyone heh)

I find alot of instincts on pricing is learned from asking ourselves "How shameless can we be in quoting?" :p Sometimes you get lucky and clients are willing to fork out the cash, sometimes not. You gauge your average price from there. Sadly, i'm still an amateur in quotation and get bullied a lot too lol

Aye christine, as a poor friend in theatre here laments to me "There's no union here!" Tis the same for illustrators! :(

sokkuan said...

I think bottomline is, no matter how they bargain or slash the price, take the job at a price that you feel comfortable with.

And please don't do any pro bono F.O.C, must at least charge a token, be it a small amount, movie ticket or chili crab etc., must charge a token because our work worth it!

kuanth said...

i always practice as what sokkuan said.

always remember-- you have a choice to choose your client. if you think that the offer doesn't justify what you are doing, you can always reject them before compromising with the offer.

Christine Lim Simpson said...
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mindflyer 小飞人 said...

just to add:

To survive as an illustrator you must be brave enough to OPEN YOUR MOUTH and negotiate and speak out!!
If not, dont blame anyone if u get a bad deal.

About Pro Bono jobs- I ll only do it if the cause is worthy AND for people I know or admire. But be careful- I have to agree with SokKuan. Charge "something". People DO take our "kindness" for granted- find out more before you commit.

Christine- thanks for all the wonderful references. You are blessed in being able to read and digest all tht legalese mumbo jumbo!! :D I thk most of us just want to get on with da drawing and hope we didnt sign anythg we ll regret :D!!

Amanda said...

Thanks Christine and all! :) It's definitely good to know what's going on that all of us face. I wonder how those guilds/unions come about overseas... do you think we could do something for ourselves in Singapore? Set some pricing guidelines, contracts etc?

mindflyer 小飞人 said...

thx to AG's post- I am reminded - don't forget to include clauses in your agreement or quotations ( esp the KILL fee!!! ), here are some of mine:

1. The above quote is valid for 30 days.
2. A Rejection Fee of minimum 50% (of Fee quoted) will be charged for any stoppage of work commissioned.
3. Kindly sign and fax/ email back this quotation if confirmed.
4. All photographs and texts to be supplied by Client.
5. All cost or 3rd party cost not listed here are NOT included. All references/ logos to be supplied by Client.
6. For purchase of Full rights - cost is 2 times quoted price.

Christine Lim Simpson said...
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