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Britt Griswold <[log in to unmask]>
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SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 20 Feb 2009 13:50:32 -0500
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Extremely good points all around.  The only thing I would note is that my comment on being employed full time is slightly miss-interpreted.  Getting Freelance rates (CODB ) while being employed full time by someone else puts you above the normal rate for a job, so it seems unlikley that you are not going to get much more than that for this sort of job.  A bit of a silly mind exercise on my part, perhaps not all that well thought out.

The point of the stock image quote is to know the terrain on which your customer is playing. To even consider going below that amount is stupid. Perhaps I should have labeled it the "Basement" not the "Floor".

Now I think Nick is well armed with the alternatives to consider.  Hope he does well.


Jim Perkins wrote:
> Hi Britt;
> We agree on a couple of important points:
> 1. You’re absolutely right that the minimum (floor) price may also be the maximum (ceiling). Depending on the client’s budget and the rights they want to license, you may be able to charge your cost of doing business (CODB) and not a penny more. I think this may be one of those cases because the print run is very small and the client is asking for very limited rights (10,000 printed copies and nothing else).
> 2. There are going to be many occasions when a client is not able to pay your CODB. The numbers you’ve quoted for this particular job are very reasonable - it’s entirely possible that they have a budget of, say, $1500 and can’t pay $3000 to license the cover art.
> The important issue, then, is what do you do in these situations? As I see it, you have three choices:
> a. Take the job for whatever they are willing to pay, even if it means you aren’t earning your CODB. In other words, give them $3000 worth of art for only $1500.
> b. Try to convince the client to lower their expectations. If they were asking for extensive usage rights, get them to accept a more limited license. In this case, they are already asking for limited rights, so the only option would be to reduce the complexity or detail of the image so it can be done within their budget, without cutting your hourly rate. In other words, give them $1500 of art for their $1500 budget.
> c. If they are unwilling to raise their budget or lower their expectations, just walk away.
> I never choose option “a”. I recognize that there will always be clients who can’t afford me. Often this is because they have unrealistic expectations or didn’t bother to budget for the cost of the art. A very successful illustrator once advised me to expect 25-40% of my bids to be rejected because of price. If your bids are accepted 100% of the time, you are probably pricing too low.
> Offering your services for less than your CODB sets a bad precedent for doing work cheap. This same client may keep coming back, but they’ll expect the work for cheap every time. You may end up with lots of work, but if most of the jobs are below your CODB, you’ll quickly go out of business. Low-balling on prices also undercuts the market as a whole, and hurts the entire profession. I always stand firm on my price, even if it means possibly losing the job.
> Finally, regarding your comment:  “If you were willing to be employed by a company to do this job on a full-time basis for CODB amount of money (giving all rights and copyright to your employer) then why would someone be willing to pay more than that amount to own less than the whole ball of wax?”
> There are lots of reasons why companies hire freelancers rather than having illustrators on staff. I suspect the most common reason is that they don’t have enough work to keep someone on payroll 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Even if freelancers charge more than the CODB and retain their rights, the company still saves money in the long run. Many large publishers have an in-house illustration staff to handle a steady stream of small jobs, but they still farm out the occasional larger jobs to individual freelancers. In this case, they have enough work to keep a handful of people busy, but the larger jobs are too ephemeral to keep a larger staff on payroll year round.
> Jim