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?


Logos aside (I consider these in a separate realm from most illustration commissions), in most cases - and ESPECIALLY those where funds are extremely limited, or the work is pro bono, my rates apply to a specific use(s) only, and I retain copyright. That use might be one-time, like a published book; or for life, as in the case of museum signage that could last indefinitely (both of these "durations of use" would be outlined in the contract). 

You might even approve the the artwork for multiple uses, it's just wise to spell them all out ahead of time. When dealing with a client that has the means, multiple uses should really be factored into the fee for the work (more uses means higher price). If a client wants the freedom to use the art on whatever they want, whenever they want, they have the option of a full buyout, or full rights transfer, for a different additional fee.

Do you own the Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethics? It's put out every few years and contains really helpful, pretty thorough overviews of how to set up illustration contracts/agreements to account for all of these options (type of use, duration of use, exclusivity, etc). Contracting and illustration rights management is not easy, and every project/client is a little different, but there are industry standards, and the GAG book provides excellent places to start from - including sample contracts. It's been indispensable to me throughout the years...

Here's the GAG website (you can get it a few bucks cheaper on Amazon)

Beth is spot-on with her comments as well. ;)


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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