Hey I made that logo! Hey...I gave it away.
January 8, 2010 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I do PowerPoint design for a living. About a year ago, I had a client who was starting a new business and, for his presentation, I did a whole bunch of original, hand-drawn illustrations. Shortly after, he asked (via email) if the work I did to date was work-for-hire and that he owned the images. Due to a combination not knowing how to handle it and being too timid to push, I said Yes. So, a year later, my illustrations are on stickers, hung on the office walls, on the company blog and website, and one of my illustrations is the company logo. I know...nothing I can do about it now and it's my own fault. The question is this: Now, he's come back to me to work on this year's presentation. I'm guessing it will use some of the old illustrations and he'll want some new ones. How should I handle it? Just do it as work-for-hire again and be happy I have work? Tell him work-for-hire is a higher rate? Tell him I want royalties on new illustrations used in non-powerpoint ways? The only thing I really don't want to do is just let him roll over me because I'm too timid to speak up again.
posted by The Dutchman to Work & Money (8 answers total)
I would say that seeing as how you seem unhappy with the fact that this guy is still using your images I would say the old agage, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me" seems appropriate.

It sounds clear that you don't want him to use your images over and over and over again without compensating you somehow. Is this job make-it-or-break-it? Will you starve if he decides not to hire you for this year's presentation? If the situation isn't that dire then be honest. You can say something like, "I'm so glad you liked my images from last year, I see you're still using them and that's great. However, I've been growing my business this past yea and my rates have changed so the work-for-hire cost is now X as opposed to Y."

Clearly you do good work, so be confident!
posted by blue_bicycle at 7:30 AM on January 9, 2010

Seconding the dual quote. And know that they probably like your work because they're using it so heavily, so you have some leverage in the negotiation. Also: more inside.
posted by jckll at 3:47 PM on January 8, 2010

Whether you try to renegotiate now is going to be a judgment call based on your feel for the relationship with the client. On the one hand, you do know is that he liked your work, since he was using it everywhere - that gives you some leverage. On the other, deadmessenger is right that you could damage the client relationship if he feels that you're changing the terms on him mid-stream. I think a year is a long enough period of time that you might be able to present this as an increase in your normal billing rates, though that's a little more difficult to justify in this economy.

In any case, I wouldn't go beating yourself up over timidity. Your main mistake here was not to negotiate this up front, which now you know to do with new clients.

I don't pretend to know much about business practices in commercial illustration, but if I were your client, I would absolutely not be interested in is some kind of per-use royalty arrangement unless I were engaging you to do illustrations as part of a product I was selling. The administrative overhead of keeping track of every time I took one of your images and put it up on a cubicle wall seem way too high. Maybe this is common practice in your industry, but otherwise I think a flat or hourly fee structure, at different rates depending on whether it's a work-for-hire or licensed for a specific use, makes more sense.

If you can afford it, you should probably hire a lawyer familiar with your industry to help you write some boilerplate contracts for each rights scenario.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:48 PM on January 8, 2010

Keep the same work for hire rate but try to negotiate a 5-year contract or whatever is most reasonable. Write in the contract that previous illustrations or royalty-free art will be used unless they want new illustrations in which case you will do them at extra cost to include royalties. I wouldn't price the new illustrations too high if they agree on royalties. There is no shame in being upfront about a cost increase. Obviously the client knew the high value of the illustrations when they used them over and over again.

If there is a question from the client on the price increase, tell them it was an introductory offer and that you are pleased they were happy with the quality of your work. The client already knows that you do quality work so selling them on this idea shouldn't be too much of an effort.
posted by JJ86 at 3:55 PM on January 8, 2010

Could you perhaps make a quote for this year's presentation using no new images, with a separate price-schedule for adding additional work-for-hire illustrations as needed? The question of why the rate has gone up should, honestly, be pretty obvious to him, but he will feel compelled to ask and act as if you're unjustified for the duration of at least one email exchange, so just be calm and say so. Work-for-hire pricing is often set by illustrators according to predicted number of impressions, and now that you understand the scope of what he was asking for, clearly he will see why future illustrations must fall under category "all over the place", not category "one-shot with a little echo". If the price for the package is "too much", you're still offering to make a presentation up to last year's standards, but without including new images - kind of like the dual-quote suggested above.

disclaimer: IANA(freelance illustrator). My husband is, and he gripes about situations like this all the time.
posted by aimedwander at 3:56 PM on January 8, 2010

"This is my fee for the project we discussed, using the images you have in hand. If you want any original illustrations, the fee for those will be $x per use, or $y for an unlimited license."

If he says "Why are you charging extra for illustrations?" the answer is "I've been advised by others in the industry that this is the best way to protect both me and my clients from any subsequent issues."
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:23 PM on January 8, 2010

I would give him two quotes: a quote in which you retain all rights, and a higher quote for work-for-hire. It doesn't have to be adversarial at all in tone, just figure out your WFH rate.

You might present the WFH quote as the regular one, and then the other a discount version.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:57 AM on January 8, 2010

One of the biggest and most thorny problems for consultants is pricing. It's my experience that once you've set a price and terms, making changes to that price and those terms for future work is difficult, at best. You're backed into the corner of "Well, you did it as work-for-hire last year for $x, why are you charging me $y this year?" The tough part is that there's probably not an answer to that question that will leave you with a good relationship with that customer.

In the end, what I would do is this: if you're going to be idle otherwise, do the work at the old rate, but don't prioritize it over higher-paying work.

on preview: chesty_a_arthur has some good advice for future engagements, with a dual quote.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:03 PM on January 8, 2010

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