Some of the graphic designers I have come in contact in Linkedin comes up with very interesting subjects such as the questions below. You know I have been wanting to post this one for quite sometime now but for some reason it’s been pushed aside until now.
How to set the right price for graphic design?
When I studied Commercial Art, they taught us how to design pretty things but they never taught us how to price our graphic designs. This is the toughest one I guess. A lot of them are very vague when it comes to this. And so you have to do your own research. Gather your own resources. And ask around the people who have done it.
In my post How Much To Charge For Business Cards article, we talked about if the production of a business card (for instance) cost you $20, you should charge double. This is just a rule of thumb. There is no specific answer of what’s right and wrong.
Some graphic designers can finish a job in one hour while others struggle to do it in a week. Companies loves the work-for-hire designers. When I said work-for-hire it means those who are regular employees of the company. They love it when you work fast coz they are getting their money’s worth. They are putting a great investment in you. But in the end, you actually own nothing. All the original creates are owned by the company you worked for. That’s just the way it is.
In Graphic Design business, you need to learn 3 things:
A lot of really good designers are very dynamic when it comes to their talent but some have no expertise on how to negotiate with clients when it comes to charging up a certain project. What should a graphic designer charge?
If I am working for a company and after I create such thing they will own every single copyright there is, I would charge much higher. I don’t get commission. And who can keep up with the commission anyway? A lot of graphic designers don’t care about that. They want to design something. Then go on with their life. Say you design a logo for Colgate, do you think you have all the time to keep up with how much advertising Colgate is going to do? I think life can be hectic if you have to keep up every single record they have in the book. So, that’s one of the reason why designers charge so much for one design.
How much a client can tweak a design?
During the time when it was only X-acto knife and the board, whenever I create something for a client I never give my originals. They get to keep their final product and I get to keep all my originals.
Will that be any different from yesterday than today? I don’t think so.
It is the same principle behind designs. Whether this is ancient time or Information Age era, if I created an original logo on Adobe Illustrator, should I give my original to a client? One said, “But they paid for it.” True, they paid for it. But the contract said that they get the final product and I get to keep my originals. In California, the moment you create something, it is automatically copyrighted by the artist. I’m not sure if this is applicable in other state or country, but it is definitely applicable here in California.
Before starting a project with your client, it is very important to set your agreement in black and white. Or in other words, you should have a written contract ready for your client. When a client signed a contract, you know he means business. But if a client wants to talk to you first without telling you exactly what he wants to do with the design and the cost, this is a red flag. You should never compromise yourself in such meeting because you’ll be wasting your time.
Anyway, I have always used the Legal Guide for the Visual Artist to give me ideas how much to charge and how to write my contract. Although I have the old edition of this book in printed form, I went ahead and bought the new Fifth Edition of this book in Kindle form, just to check & see and so I can tell you more about it. Anyway, Tad Crawford is the authorized author who’s expertise in writing contracts and legal forms for clients. He is an attorney and author, has lobbied for artists’ rights on the state and federal level. He is a columnist for Communication Arts Magazine. He is a lecturer to artists’ groups and teacher for students nation wide.
1 The Business Of Art
2 Copyright: Gaining and Keeping Protection
3 Copyright: Registration
4 Copyright: Works for Hire and Joint Works
5 Copyright: Infringement, Fair Use, Compulsory Licensing, and Permissions
6 Copyright and the Digital Revolution
7 Moral Rights
8 Other Protections for Artists
9 Risks in the Content and Creation of Art
10 Contracts: An Introduction
11 Original Art: Sales, Commissions, and Rentals
12 Original Art: Ownership, Insurance, Submissions, and Resale Proceeds
13 Unique Art and Limited Editions
14 Sales by Galleries and Agents
15 Sales of Reproduction Rights
16 Publishing Contracts
17 Video Artworks
18 Multimedia Contracts
19 Studios and Leases
20 Taxes: Income and Expenses
21 Taxes: Beyond Schedule C
22 Taxes: The Hobby Loss Challenge
23 Taxes: Who Is an Employee?
24 The Artist’s Estate
25 Artists and Museums
26 The Artist as a Collector
So you can see this book is complete. The only book you’ll need when you need to establish your legal contract with a client such as: pricing, purchase order, confirmation, and invoice form.
Notice the title said “The Visual Artist” handbook but also this included the Graphic Designer as well. This book is pretty thorough and they have all kinds of examples such as estimate, confirmation, and invoice forms for all kinds of contract. Also there are legal contracts for the Artist, Photographer, Interior Designer, Model, Cartoonist, Videographer, and more. It is a great investment specially when you’re just starting out.
Not only they updated the Legal Guide for the Visual Artist (the Professional’s Handbook), they also added a separated printed copy derived from such book for the Graphic Designers as well. And the book is called the Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers. I have actually purchased this book also on Kindle form. It looks like some of the forms included in this book are the same what I already have on my Visual Artist handbook. If you’re the kind of Artist who does more than one thing (i.e. videography, animation) I think you should get the Visual Artist handbook. But the book below is specific for the Graphic Designer only.
You can actually copy these forms “as is” and all you need to do is replace your business name there. The form is well written and very thorough. In fact, when I had a client in Palo Alto, I gave him one of these form and he said to me, “I got scared after reading it.” If they see your contract is professionally done and you’re a member of the Graphic Artist Guild (not mandatory but optional), the clients will not mess around with you. They know you’re serious. No monkey business. It can definitely save your life.
I think either one of these book will do just fine. I thought I’d create screen shots from my iPhone instead of typing the table of contents from this book. And so if you are serious and want to be a Graphic Designer, this book is a must and you can purchase it at Amazon.com. It’s the only book you’ll ever need if you are to establish your contract and form.
If you are working locally in your state or country and you are meeting face-to-face, a contract printed on black and white is nice. But if you can create the same contract via online and they can sign their “electronic signature” after agreeing to the “I agree all of the above” agreement then I guess that’ll be fine. How the client signature depends on what country you’re in. Some country said that if they type “I agree all of the above” agreeement and entered their name & last name, that is considered electronic signature. Check your local city hall to see if this is applicable.
With the knowledge you become proficient and equipped. Contracts may be tedious and so much hassle. Some client may get intimidated by it but you are BETTER off to have that than to get screwed over and over. Contracts will never get outdated whether this is in printed form or via digital electronics. If you are going to start a business you might as well start it right from the start. Did you find this post helpful?