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How much to charge for a t-shirt design?
September 10, 2008 2:21 PM   Subscribe

I've been asked to design a t-shirt for a well-known band on a major label, but I don't know what the going rate is for the work. I saw this question, but I'm not fresh out of school, and that's a question about bulk work, which this will not be. I'm open to charging a flat-rate or my hourly, but am unclear which is appropriate in this situation.

Assuming a flat-rate is appropriate...I know there are some variables involved, but here are the pertinent infos as I see it:

• the band is on a major label
• they seem to appeal to 14 - 20 year olds (people who actually buys band t-shirts)
• I saw at least 8 of their shirts for sale online through those generic online apparel stores, so it will probably enter the wild
• the shirt is for a tour where they'll probably sell a bunch every night (should I quote based on initial print run numbers? I'd rather not use a percentage of sales, because I don't think I'd get those numbers without much hassle)
• I anticipate, and really don't care about, losing rights to the design, but want to compensate for that loss appropriately

Anything I'm not considering?

Thanks for your help!
posted by apetpsychic to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just a note: I know there is no "going rate" and that the cost will be determined by the complexity of the art and seps, but I just want to get more of an informed idea...
posted by apetpsychic at 2:28 PM on September 10, 2008


Also consider the "in kind" value of the job. By doing it, will it bring you more work, will it be something for a resume/portfolio.... If, of course, those things are important for you.
posted by HuronBob at 2:45 PM on September 10, 2008


Definitely do an hourly rate if you have any say in the matter! Think about the odds of you finishing the design (and getting it approved!) earlier than expected versus it taking longer than expected.

Also, I think it is very unlikely that you would be offered a cut of anything. The label will almost certainly consider the design a Work For Hire, which means they own all the rights to it. Set your rate accordingly.
posted by meta_eli at 2:56 PM on September 10, 2008


15 Awful Mistakes Made by Designers in the Music & Apparel Industry. Not to say you're making any; I thought the article might be of interest.
posted by elle.jeezy at 4:37 PM on September 10, 2008


Also consider the "in kind" value of the job. By doing it, will it bring you more work, will it be something for a resume/portfolio.... If, of course, those things are important for you.
posted by HuronBob at 2:45 PM on September 10


That sounds a lot like bullshit to this graphic designer, HuronBob. Other people will be profiting from "apetpsychic"'s work - so why shouldn't he make a decent wage? Designers have a specific skillset developed over years - you wouldn't ask an electrician or a doctor or hell, a receptionist to work for pennies on the dollar, so why a designer?

Getting away from that goddamn everpresent spec work bullshit, let me say that the safest route for you is to charge an hourly rate - less than $50/hour is for fourteen year-olds who only use Photoshop. It will definitely be a Work for Hire and you will not get to "keep" it, although you can almost always use it in your portfolio - I've never had anyone ask me not to.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:40 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


i have been a designer in the apparel industry for years. tee shirt graphics are almost always paid at a flat rate, usually of about $150-500 per design. $500 is at the upper end. average is usually about $250-300. you do not retain rights, but you are certainly allowed to use the design in your book.
posted by violetk at 10:24 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


just another job. charge your regular rate and be happy in the fact that your work will be on a t-shirt for a well known band. anything else would be unethical. by doing this you could be opening doors for future work.
posted by docmccoy at 10:30 PM on September 10, 2008


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