Commissioners. Sometimes commissioners don’t know their job very well. There are more briefs to deal with, and less time to do them well. Training used to be art school for advertising creatives, now it’s advertising school. There is a change in their starting points, not necessarily coming from a love of images, and often people are moving out of specialist areas and working as a ‘creative’.
The problem can also be that an art director has to sell the idea to the client – and if they have experience they can do that. Where they are less experienced or less confident, the client can get nervous and question everything, and things unravel.
Art Buyers (or their absence). Art buyers have a skill and knowledge about illustration and photography – and increasingly agents and artists are working directly with the client rather than with an art buyer. Things can get unstuck there as they don’t have the skill and specialist knowledge.
Similarly there are some outsourced art buyers – which means those involved are another step removed – not good for anyone!
Manage expectations. It’s important to manage clients expectations. Jon was reassuring then he said he very rarely has a client who does not respond well to hearing that something is outside the scope of the job and therefore requires more time or money.
Negotiate Lu noted that you can also juggle usage – if the client wants an extra animation but not the budget, can you suggest a 1 year license as opposed to 2, or doing less static images for example. Never feel ashamed of talking about money!
Communicate. Use email and the phone. A written record is an important audit trail, but it’s also important to talk through feedback and ideas – and then ask for an emailed version so you can check you understand everything. When you are asked something, say it back to make sure you have understood it correctly.
Agree Terms. Important to have terms of business in case things go pear shaped. Standard terms are the starting point for negotiations.
[hidden title="What are the fair terms, licence agreements and remuneration for that work?"]
Copyright. Giving up copyright, unless it’s fairly remunerated is not in the artist’s interest. However, not all areas of copyright are clear cut so there can be negotiation involved.
Negotiate. Licensing is a brilliant payment structure. If someone wants the moon on a stick that is what it will cost. But you can ask them if they really want all the rights – and reduce down to a fee that is fair and manageable for them.
If you as the creator want to challenge someone – for example about not waiving your moral rights, explain why. If you get cross and angry that is not helpful. A clear rationale will help the art director can take the issue up the chain for decision makers. Assert yourself but think about how you are received – don’t be a pain.
Contracts. Remember the commissioner you are liaising with hasn’t written the contract- and does not necessarily understand it. It’s good to ask questions as it helps them understand it and communicate if better. Always be clear what terms mean – ask if you don’t understand – they can mean different things from industry to industry, so it’s important to be clear. Alicia welcomes questions, so she can find out more and understand her contracts better.
Jon notes that contracts can be written by people who don’t understand illustration – there have been times when you need to go back and say that it’s not quite right for how it’s being used, and would a different template be a useful starting point – that can be well received.
Pricing. Jon confirms that you can’t be told a price is too high – it’s your price. It might be that you are busy and don’t really want the job, so you price it higher. Or, on the other side it might be lower because you need the work.
Lu continued that it’s useful for commissioners to give a budget – even if it is between X and Y. That allows the artist to go back saying, well, for X I can give you this, and for Y I can give you that. Some clients love negotiation, others just have a straight up fee that’s easier.
If you are pushed to offer a ball park sum, you have to caveat it that your quote is a ball park too. And may be adjusted once all usage is known.
Don’t separate out project fee (creation) and usage in a quote – or you can be left high and dry if the client decides not to use it, and wants to pay solely for creation of the work.
Motion based commissions (Illustration led animation). Increasingly clients wish to take stills from commissioned animations or photographer films to use in a project, and this additional still usage, for example as a poster, attracts a fee on top of the animation fees.
This should be clear when initial discussions are made about usage.
Discussion brought to an end