Can you explain the basics of art licensing to me?
January 27, 2013 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Someone contacted me about using an image (an inked line drawing, which was part of a series of process scans of a more completed and colored, image), they found on my blog. She would like to use this particular image largely as-is in her new business cards. She also wants to know how much I would charge to create a logo for her new business based on the line drawing.

(Just a bit of info on the client: According to a very professional looking website, she works as a media consultant working on positive social change and related things.) The image in question is from an older illustration I haven't done much with. I can't think of a reason not to sell her full rights to the image, and give up my own, provided that she includes a link to my website somewhere, and keeps my information for anyone who asks. I would also want permission to use any logo I make as an example for future clients.

(I will review other Asks for figuring out how much to charge, as I recall at least a few of those. Since it's my first, I am leaning toward something like $100 minimum and $25/hr after the first four hours, max $200. Though if it's a non-profit maybe $75-$125?) I also have the original 8.5" x 11" (not really sellable, had to be cleaned up digitally) and one print that I never put in my shop, though they are the full color image and likely very different than what she wants.

I have been seriously working on my art for about two years (after many years away), in my spare time. Mainly I sell prints and things through Etsy, but have been more recently considering other venues like Fine Art America, Spoonflower (fabrics) and I've started framing some work in the hopes of putting it up in some local venues. But this is the first request of this kind.

I'm looking for the most basic things I need to know to provide a good answer. Do you license your work and wish you'd known a few key things before you started?

By the way, I will be thanking her quite sincerely for asking me in the first place because I know many people do not.
posted by Glinn to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am leaning toward something like $100 minimum and $25/hr after the first four hours, max $200

I can't answer whether it is an appropriate rate since I am not in your industry, but I would change some of your wording above (speaking as a person who has freelanced for several years now).

Do not say max X amount. This is why.You don't know this person or client yet, and they may request 5 revisions and 10,000 hours of work. Especially if several people at a company become involved.

Instead, give your rate, estimate how long the project will take and state "includes first draft only" or revisions will be at your hourly rate,etc.

Good luck and congrats!
posted by Wolfster at 12:23 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not an artist, but having read articles about people who sold their full art rights cheap, and been burned. I would never "sell her full rights to an image, and give up my own". (unless its for oodles of money).

I'd negotiate a limited usage rights agreement for her, and retain most rights for yourself.
posted by TheAdamist at 1:34 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

AIGA has some boilerplate contracts you should read over. They're a great resource.

You're talking about two different beasts here. One is a license which you will write, and should reserve some of your rights. You would likely want to reserve re-selliing, selling to stock, exclude merchandizing over X number of items, reproductions over X number of items etc. You don't want to have your illustration put on a T-Shirt, become super trendy, sold to Urban Outfitters and have a million made and sold while seeing not a dime.

Secondly, your logo falls under work-for-hire. Work-for-hire in just about all jurisdictions means you surrender all rights. You should be sure to enumerate what rights you want to reserve in your contract with her, such as portfolio/self-promotional use.

As for your price negotiations, you shouldn't say there is a "max". You should give a base number, which would include how many ever versions or revisions as you feel comfortable doing, then include an hourly rate for everything outside of the scope of your base quote. Depending on where you are located, what industry this person is in, etc, $25/hr is probably the lowest you'd want to ever go. $50 is what you should aim for. Keep in mind, you're approaching this as a novice/hobbiest and there are people who bring home the bacon with this kind of work. Things like AIGA and the Graphic Artists Guild's Pricing and Ethical Guidelines Handbook help to establish standards. This not only helps you get fair earnings, but it also helps establish design as respected work.
posted by fontophilic at 7:15 PM on January 27, 2013

Typically, rights managed art is licensed based on usage: What it is being used on, for how long in what industry. Rights remain the property of the artist.
But logos do not fall into this category. Once a logo is develop for a client, all rights are transferred to the client. Obvi, between an artist and client, any unique terms can be agreed upon, but I have never of a logo being treated as a rights-managed piece of art.

Regardless, it appears the project is to design:
> a company logo – that is inspired from a previously created piece of art
> a biz card that uses the logo

You should estimate how much time you expect to invest, the value of your work as well as the size of the clients company (a logo for the corner deli will not command the same fee as a logo for Coke). Then decide on an appropriate fee.

Your proposal should list both deliverables, with a fee for each. You should detail how many options your presentation will contain (say, 3-5 directions) and how many rounds of revisions you will make. And list the final deliverable (digital mechanical, or whatever). If they want you to handle production (printing, etc). You should add a "production management fee"

Logos are assets that are typically used for long periods of time and can become incredibly valuable for companies. Fees can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars (for a professionally designed mark). So don't cut yourself too short – even for non-profits.
A good pricing resource for fees and other issues is the pricing and ethical guidelines book
from the Graphic Artists Guild
posted by pmaxwell at 7:18 PM on January 27, 2013

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