Revisiting Art for the OSR and Pricing

OK, so if you have been following the blog you know that I’ve been having trouble getting paid by a few OSR type clients (there are 2 with outstanding balances owed me; other than sending them messages with requests for payment, I don’t know what else to do). In addition, there is the matter of the ‘ape head’ illustration where I let frustration get the best of me and managed to screw a bad deal even further from my end.

Going forward, I obviously need to do things differently and have received both public and private responses and suggestions. Based on that, I’m looking at:

  1. An overall rate increase.
  2. Require a deposit before I start work.
  3. Require a signed agreement before I start work.
  4. High rez scans delivered only after final payment is rendered… up until then, the client gets 72 dpi jpegs for placement/approval.
  5. Include a “change order” request process in the contract.
  6. Avoid the “noob” publishers who may (or may not)have good intentions but have unrealistic or unclear expectations.

The hardest part of this is the ‘rate’ concept. I have no idea what is reasonable or fair. The conventional formula seems to consider type of usage (one time use vs. more rights) plus time/complication multiplied by usage itself (i.e.: I understand some illustrators and photographers may charge a lesser price to a magazine with a smaller distribution).

As far as the deposit goes, I’m thinking of asking for 1/2 up front and the other half within 30 days of delivery (when I did photography I tried to get paid within 30 days, even offering discounts if people would pay me before the first 30 days were up and threatening to charge more for invoices that went past 90 days— no one ever paid me early and the late clients who were billed extra for delinquent payments never paid the penalty (in fact, some of them never paid their bills at all)).

I’ve done some hunting and haven’t been able to find how much other artists charge for artwork — any good suggestions for finding price info out there?


9 Comments on “Revisiting Art for the OSR and Pricing”

  1. Sounds good.
    The only thing I personally would change is full payment on delivery.

  2. Full payment on delivery is my usual practice with art I've commissioned for my various projects, but it is going to limit your pool of potential clients, since a lot of them won't go for that. I think you're better off without clients like that myself, but that's just me.

  3. limpey says:

    Geoffrey said: It certainly wouldn't make sense to get paid less than the teenagers at Taco Bell.

    Yeah; I've been trying to do that. Estimating time and how much it is worth is hard, though. Do I charge just for the time I spend physically drawing or painting? In one recent project, I started with a sketch that took less than an hour, but I did a couple versions before I even sent one off to the client… and I spent time looking at source materials to try to get ideas and figure out how to draw something. So sometimes there is other time involved in research, sketches to figure out if something will “work out,” etc.

  4. limpey says:

    Thanks, Alex;
    I'll try to look up your artist tonight.

  5. limpey says:

    Alex wrote: Unfortunately our society (assuming Switzerland is not much different from the States) has a very uneven distribution of earnings for artists. Most don't earn enough to make a living. A selected few are super rich.

    I would suspect the situation for artists is pretty similar in the US vs the EU as far as earning money as a creative of any sort goes. Most of the artists in the US I know who do well count on a regular salary with benefits from something like teaching. I know a few people who would like to change jobs or careers and cannot because they have a family member who is dependent upon the job for insurance coverage. Luckily for me, I get health care benefits through my partner (and I'm healthy — knock on wood), but we rely upon her job for coverage — if she lost her job, one serious illness or accident could wipe us out financially, which kind of puts other worries into perspective.

    Benefits beyond salary and the cost of health care in the US is one thing that makes me wish I had dual citizenship… but, as you say, that is another discussion.

  6. Steve Zieser says:

    I have to admit that I have more or less just guessed at what a good rate would be. I've had some very good contracts that told me what they would pay, and have based my rates upon that, more or less. Sorry to hear about your getting stiffed for work. So far, all my clients have been very good about prompt payments.

  7. Geoffrey says:

    Stefan, charge for everything, whether it's research, experimental sketches, etc. That is all work, and it's all done on behalf of your customer.

  8. anarchist says:

    I'd imagine that the threat of public exposure would be particularly effective in this subculture, where it's pretty small and there's lots of communication via the internet (and where blogging about internal disputes is popular).

  9. baronzemo says:

    I know your pain! I used to DJ for years and years. Their was afew times early on, I trusted people on their word. I never had any problems with the bars i was doing. But when i did weddings and party's, i got burned 4 different times.

    The one that still get me going was a wedding reception. The wedding was run by the “MOTHER-IN-LAW” . It was a great reception, had people dancing all night, got 2 other wedding from doing this wedding. But at the end of the night, the “MOTHER-IN-LAW” said ” I feel that you didnt do a good enough job for my daughters wedding , so i'm not paying you!”

    So from then on i got contracts signed, and half down, and half when i was done.

    P.S. I like your work, has that “Old School Look” Keep up the good work.


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