Hi Julie
I'm new to this listserve (though I've been doing medical and science illustration for almost 20 years) so I hope I'm not speaking out of turn. But I've found of a Letter of Agreement (similar to a Contract) that includes the brief, the cost or hourly rate, delivery schedule, and rights of usage to be extremely useful, even for small groups like your mushroom client. I've got mine down to less than two pages so that clients will actually read it... it also confirms who has authority to give approval of various stages and where and to whom the invoice will be addressed. Most of my work is fixed price but I put in this document the hourly rate that is applied after a certain number of changes have been requested. There is a line explaining the rights to use the work by the client only begins when work is paid in full. Mention a kill fee so everyone knows what to do in the unlikely (but not unheard of) event that the project is cancelled. 

Technically it's not a contract... I don't have the requirements for a legal contract in front of me but this document is intended more to head off a lot of problems with clear communication, up front. I highly recommend all new illustrators to get in the habit of taking the time to make these for even the small jobs (which can become larger, you never know). Good fences make good neighbors. 

Also, consider assigning usage rights to this client, even if they are pretty all encompassing, rather than transferring copyright. For instance, you can give them the right to use the design on any of their club material but put in the letter of agreement that any other usage must be with permission. You don't have to charge them for other uses, but it keeps up your relationship. And you still retain the copyright - they can't sell the design on or have a go at 'improving' it. Not that they are likely to, but still good practice to keep the copyright when the client really doesn't need it. You never know you may want to use part of this design years later and not be in fear of infringing on your own work.

By the way, I didn't start using these regularly until about 10 years ago and I've just found it helps so much, wanted to encourage others!
Beth Croce, CMI
medical artist and director,
biomedical art, illustration & jewelry

of  It's not overly wordy in legalese but
On 12/12/2013, at 7:17 AM, Julie Himes wrote:

Hi Maia,

Thanks for the help and all of the advice. I can't believe someone stole your design! I will definitely ask for a deposit first and maybe put watermarks when I send digital files in order to try and prevent that from happening. I like the idea of an hourly rate, since I have a good sense for how long it takes me to paint mushrooms. 

Do you send an estimate of how many hours you think it will take to your client? Do your clients then have full rights to use the image after you've sent it to them, or do you get a percentage of the merchandise profits?

Thanks again,

On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 10:04 AM, Maia Sanders <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I live in the Bay Area too, (San jose) and I have recently been making logos and identity for a series if small dance, martial arts and other performing arts schools, all shoestring operations, often non-profits. Here is how I handle this type of thing.

I charge $35 an hour for non-profits ( I can deduct from my taxes), and $50 an hour for for-profit schools.

I frequently have a problem with this kind if client saying "you are the artist, you can have free rein to make the design" only to a quagmire of revisions and argument between school administrators over my designs. 

Therefore I am very careful to charge hourly and not by the job, or, if they want the job quoted entirely, I put a limit on revision- at design stage, they get three, and one at finishing stage, then I charge hourly for revisions.   

I also ask for 60% payment at final design approval. I have had one client walk away with my final design sketch and seen it on a jacket, ineptly rendered, three months later- he had given the job to his wife to finish.

Additionally, I take a design sketch and make several photoshop mockups of coffee cups, letterhead, jackets, and bumper stickers- this really excites a client, and takes about an hour- usually ensuring they will go for the design I favor! And ultimately saving me time and frustration.  It's hard for non-visual people to imagine the logo or design across applications.

Best of luck, by the way, i took a look at your linked work, your mushrooms are beautiful! 



On Wednesday, December 11, 2013, Julie Himes wrote:
Hi All,

I am new to science illustration, so I'm just learning all of the ins and outs of how to sell artwork and take commissions. I have been asked by a club (150 members or so) to illustrate some mushrooms for their T-shirts, bags, mugs, and probably for their website. The illustration would likely take me about 14 hours to make. They would like to have rights to the image (I would not get a percentage of each shirt sale). What is a reasonable amount to ask for? While I would be selling my time, materials, and the rights to my illustration, I also know that they are a non-profit club. 

Thanks for your help!

- Julie Himes

Julie Himes Science Illustration
Monterey, CA
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