Contracts Vs. Reality

  • SVS OG

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    Art by Frank Sandoval

    Now that you’ve gotten your gig and are ready to get to work, how do you navigate the tricky world of contracts and keep yourself and your art protected? This week, Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry discuss the basics of contracts for illustrators, and tell you all about what to watch for when you sign the dotted line.

    Click here to listen and read the shownotes.

  • I think it is a great episode. Because illustrations are fun and nice, people tend to think that the industry is too!
    Let's not be naive, the illustration industry is a business. It is not a bad word. Business is when two people come to an agreement. So best when the agreement (and rules, and expectations!) is in written. And best, when the artists are knowlegeable about the main business principles

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Thanks Julia! I really like this topic and thought it would be a fun one to chat about. Curious to hear what you guys think. I know it's probably not as exciting as some topics, but maybe it is more important as you get into the field and start to sign more contracts. Maybe it can save you some money! : )

  • @Jake-Parker Looking forward to listening and watching this one.

    I must say,...I totally love looking at this art work by Frank Sandoval.

  • It's funny because I've came up with some collaboration gigs that because they are non paid jobs they think they shouldn't arrange a contract which for me sounds absurd. Especially if it's a non paid job I want to have everything clear and tied up.

  • I started the episode today but haven’t finished it yet. Enjoying it already. If it’s not addressed in the last half of the episode I would love to hear about how to get started writing contracts up, what needs to be included, who gets the original, any online references that would be helpful? I haven’t needed any for illustration but I have for oil paintings before and I’ve never used one because it seems like overwhelming.

  • @jsnzart Me too! The gesture drawing is top notch and the scroll helps tell a story. Along with how long contracts seem to be!

    This was a great episode with lots of takeaways as per usual. I have a question regarding commissioned pieces. Do they need a contract as well? Or is that more work-for-hire?

  • @danielerossi That's funny! Yuge contract!

    That's a great question!
    I did some large cat portraits in oils, on canvas, nearly 10 years ago. Wish I had some kind of agreement from the beginning.
    Lots of clients have made me wanna quit my career, before I even begin! And I let it get to me.

  • Love the content of the episode. Really good to know for example the difference between royality percentage, and royality net percentage.

    I found there is little room to negociate with publishers regarding terms, especially for artists in the beginning of their career. There are simply too many talents to choose from. A couple times, I managed to get higher advance for a book, but that was the only thing I have managed to negociate, not schedule, rights, payment installments, percentage of royalty etc.

    Regardless, I found the content of the episode very valuable. It is always good to be informed. I rather know what I am signing off, than just being ignorant.

  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @danielerossi said in Contracts Vs. Reality:

    This was a great episode with lots of takeaways as per usual. I have a question regarding commissioned pieces. Do they need a contract as well? Or is that more work-for-hire?

    Commissioned pieces: Yes. Use a contract. Your client could be under a misunderstanding of how they can (or can't) use the artwork they have hired you to create. Not to mention contracts provide clear deadlines, numbers of revisions etc.

    Work For Hire: Also must have a contract. This is because for a project to even be WFH, the term Work For Hire (or Work Made for Hire or some variation on that) must be written down and signed by both parties. Otherwise it is not a WFH and all rights are presumed to remain with the creator (that is, you)

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  • @davidhohn Thanks for clearing that up. Looks like I have some homework to do for my next client!

  • @davidhohn Thanks.
    Do you know of any contract templates for commissions, online?
    And I mean, good ones.
    Not long ones.

    I know of, and was briefly a member of the graphic artists guild, but at that time I was looking for help with self publishing authors.
    Years before that, I was interested in doing portraits and other commissions.

  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @jsnzart Off the top of my head, no.
    I have a standard licensing contract that is a single page but it's designed for licensing copyright(s) for reproduction.

    As I think about your question I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "commissions". If you can clarify the kind of project you mean perhaps someone else on these boards has one you can reference.

    Short of that I am a big fan of Tad Crawford's Business and Legal Forms for Fine Artists

    He also has Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators
    which is what I used to create my standard contract, but I think the commission information you might need would be in the Fine Artist version.

    I would also imagine that the Pricing and Ethical Guidelines would have a contract template (unfortunately my copy is unavailable at the moment or I would check)

  • @davidhohn Thank you very much.
    Commissions for portraits painted on canvas and/or paper.
    But, I am not really interested in it anymore. That was 10 or more years ago.
    Of course, I would still consider it, this year has been pretty bad.
    My main job for this year was going to be drawing portraits and cutting silhouettes live, at events.

    However, I'm still interested in looking at those contracts/agreements.
    And thanks for the links.

    Yep, I have it(Pricing and Ethical Guidelines). Will have a look through it.
    I thought it was mainly for illustration work.

  • @Lee-White I really liked this episode. Thank you for going into the nitty-gritty and opening it up with practical stories.

    I have a question've mentioned in a number of episodes that sometimes you need to renegotiate or draw up a new contract and I'm wondering if there's any risk associated with transitioning between contracts? Is this like exiting one car and getting into another or is this like having each foot on a different boat as they are drifting away from each other while you're deciding which one to commit to?

  • What are some normal parameters in kids book contracts for terminating contracts? I don't think this was addressed?
    For example, if you are halfway through and either the publisher or artist needs to pull out.
    Does the artist get paid in full generally, and if the artist pulls out, what are the general consequences for that?


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    Typically if the artist does not fulfill their obligations whatever part of the advance that has been issued to the illustrator is repaid to the publisher, but the work (and associated copyright ) remains with the illustrator.

    If the publisher does not fulfill their obligations then whatever advance has been paid is retained by the illustrator as a "kill fee". The work and associated copyright remains with the illustrator.

    But be careful! (this is why a podcast like this is so important) Read your contracts. It is possible that the publishers "boilerplate" (read: standard) contract only covers what happens if the ILLUSTRATOR doesn't do their job -- but neglects to address what happens if the PUBLISHER doesn't.

  • thanks @davidhohn , that's helpful. Yes - always double check the contract! I entered into one which is pretty airtight and all on the side of the contractor - so I have learnt that lesson the hard way. One main problem is i didn't have any standard to go by when i read it - what is normal the first time you do something? So that was an issue.

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