Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lesson Learned :/

So this past week I learned a few things:

1) Write up a basic contract and have it ready before someone shows interest in your work.
2) Have both parties sign the contract before you begin drawing. (Sample art included!)
3) Charge a fee for Sample Art.

It's common sense, I know. But when people start emailing you all interested and everything, excitement over a new project kicks into gear before the business cogs in the brain do. So when a potential client emailed me, and then called, asking if I would be interested in doing some Sample Art for her soon to be self-published picture book, I was totally thrilled! Of course I would do some art to see if my style matched her story! Of course I would do some character sketches!

Of course I would forget that this is work and takes time to do, and that a contract should be signed before I start drawing!

But no harm done, I did at least remember to send a copyrights contract before I actually sent my art. I know better than that, at least. I didn't think that the potential client would in fact refuse to sign the copyrights contract, and would also want to know before she signed such contract how much I would charge her should she choose to work with me. And that she would choose another artist after all, without even seeing my samples (or so she said. Doesn't matter anyway.)

I did get something out of all this, anyway. I had a real good reason to re-read the contracts in the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook for Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. Without having a case in mind, the contract section is a rather dry read, for me at least. And I typed up a nice little Sample Art contract for future use. So in the end, I've got some new stuff in my sketchbook that I wouldn't have thought to draw on my own, and one less week's worth of time I could have used for another project. I was lucky that things didn't go the real wrong way. That would have been bad!

So! Lesson learned. No harm done, and no hard feelings. :)


  1. hi - i'm a publisher - and the best way to handle design & sketches is to do maybe two or three b/w for free (esp. if it's a publisher rather than just someone who wants some illustration). then if the publisher wants anything in colour or beyond sketches you should charge for that.

    you should always copyright your designs, to make sure the publisher doesn't take your designs and get a different illustrator to copy them!

  2. hi Smallfish!

    Thanks for your feedback- it is very helpful! It is sometimes hard to find out the way things work in this business when so many times it is a case-by-case situation. I do my best to ask teachers, colleagues and friends, but I don't like to pester them, either!

    I have been keeping an eye on your blog lately to see how your apps turn out! I hope to do my own one day, but it is such a process I don't have enough time for the learning curve. Finishing the book itself is my first step. :)

    Thanks again for your advice, and for visiting my blog!