Creative Design Process: Terms and Costs

I hope the following will help when approaching me or another artist/designer about a project.

1) Determine what you need
What is the message you want to communicate?
Who is your audience?
How do you want to communicate it this message (media)?
What feelings/emotions do you want to convey to your audience?
What is your budget?
What usage rights do you need?

2) Search out artists and ask for an estimate
Look for artists or ask around for people who do the type of work you are looking for. Check out their online portfolios. Tell them what you need and if possible show them samples of the style/type of work you are looking for. Ask for an estimate of how long the job should take and how much it should cost.

Keep in mind the quality/time/cost trade off.

3) Negotiate a contract
For larger jobs (more than $500 or longer than 1 month) it is best to negotiate payment in installments. For smaller jobs payment is due upon delivery of the final image/product. 

Art/Illustration

Pricing is usually based per image/product and is estimated by the artist based on these factors:

a) Experience
The more experience I have with the media/subject matter the more I will charge because I feel confident I can do a high-quality job. I have also spent years developing my skills and expertise in this field/media.

b) Cost of materials/software/equipment/workspace
If I need to rent studio space, pay a photographer, purchase reference art, buy new digital equipment, use expensive design software, or expensive materials (like gold leaf); I will need to charge more per image or agree to invoice these expenses separately.

c) Time required
The longer I expect a project to take, the more I will charge per image.
This is one of the most difficult things to estimate and I consider these many factors:
– How much research will be needed and how difficult will this research will be? (Do I need attend a surgical operation or can I watch it online?)
– How much detail will be needed?
– Do I have things on-hand that will help me speed up the process (drafting tools, previously done work, templates, brushes, icons…)?
– Can elements be replicated and reused within the project or used in the future?
– How difficult do I find the subject matter? (emotionally/ethically/physically/mentally…)
– How difficult do I find the media? (do I need to learn new skills? is it tedious? is it physically demanding? is it easily correctable if I make small mistakes?
– How many versions or revisions will be needed to satisfy the client. I usually offer 2-3 revisions before I need to go to an hourly rate or re-negotiate the contract?
– What is the relationship with the client like? Have we worked together before? Could this lead to more work?
– Are there other benefits/sacrifices to consider before taking on the work?

d) Usage rights
The more rights the client needs, the less money I will be able to make off the image, so the more I will need to charge for the image/product.

For most illustrations clients want first time print and web rights to an image. This means they will have the right to reproduce an image in print (brochure, journal, book…), or on the web (presentations, facebook, instagram, website…) for the first time.
It is important to me that I am able to have my name credit on the work and that I can use the work in my portfolio for self promotion or educating others about my career.
In some cases I might want to sell the work to another client, sell the source art, post as stock art, or reuse elements in a different form for another product.

For logo/business identity designs, proprietory/patent illustrations and to meet the requirements of many companies and institutions, I will grant clients the full copyrights but I will need to charge more for it.

Design
Design is the final layout of the images and text in the project so that it is ready for print, screen, or web delivery (usually pdf/jpg/png/gif files).
Pricing is usually based on an hourly rate. I only bill for time spent at the table drawing or at the computer designing. (I don’t bill for consulting with the client, image/idea searching, communications, paperwork, skill development…)
My base hourly rate for layout/design in Adobe photoshop or Office (Word/Powerpoint) is $50/hr
My base hourly rate for layout/design/animation in other Adobe Creative Suite products is $60/hr and a minimum of $500/month.
Rush jobs may not be possible under my current circumstances but would come with an additional charge.