Copyright?



  • I did not tune in in this discussion as I have never drafted or signed a freelancer contract, so my knowledge is purely theoretical. Just wanted to point out that a "work-for-hire" type of contract is what you sign as an employee (as I am) - you relinquish all rights including attribution of the art. This is what happens in the case of all Disney, Dreamworks, etc.... artists. So it is not "unethical" or "unkind" - it is just not appropriate for a freelancer, who does not get a fixed salary every month and all the perks and benefits associated with it. The clause about her being able to sue you if you claim to be the artist or if you do something similar to this work is also a standard clause in this type of contracts.
    I think a freelance should not be asked to sign such contracts and should probably not agree to do it (as I understand you have already decided), but the world is big and I am sure there are exceptions to everything.
    Regarding fees, you may be aware from Lee White's videos that Wizards of the Coast, one of the most prominent producers of card games, pays between 500 and 2000 USD per card depending on the renown of the artist. Also, I do not thing they use work-for-hire contracts 😉
    So 130 USD per card is ridiculously low!
    And, as I guess you have already realized, you can have only one valid contract between two parties....
    In all of these discussion, the voice that I found most inspiring is Will Terry's - he has an old video about fees and gigs where he basically lays down a decision process for the artist, which includes reasons to take underpaid gigs (like "experience" or "I really would like to do this job" or "it really would help my portfolio"). I have just agreed to a seriously underpaid job (pending reviewing the contract) because it is from an educational publisher and I very much like the art direction - and it would be my first children publishing job, so I really need the experience. But it is only 8 images - I would not have taken it if it had blocked me for half a year - that was an important aspect for me.
    Anyhow, I think you have sorted your thinking in the right way, and whatever comes out of it, it is under your control it, so it is always a positive outcome, even if you decide not to do the job! Maybe you could take it as a sign to really invest in your own tarot deck and bring it to market within the same time-frame!



  • @smceccarelli This has been so difficult for me because I don't know what's considered "normal" in the industry (although Lee's business vids here have cleared a lot of things up). But $10,000 is a LOT of money to me...but another artist I talked to and everything I've read on the Internet have said that I should be getting a lot more for a job that will take 20 months and entail 79 images, with multiple sketches. I'd be producing 3-5 finished images per month, which would come out to about $500 per month. I work traditionally and I'm slow, so I know it's unrealistic for me to think I can produce more than 5-10 rounds of sketches and revisions & 5 finished pieces per month.

    So I'm just so torn. My family really needs the money right now, but as Lee said in one of his videos, I don't want to come from a place of desperation or I'll get myself into a bad situation. What I've come down to though is that 1) I will not say she created the artwork. We didn't discuss that at all and if she'd mentioned it I would have ended the call right there. The main reason I want to do this is to get potential other jobs from it. 2) I don't feel comfortable giving all of the rights if it means that I can never create my own tarot deck or do tarot decks for other people.

    I guess I'll see what her reaction is today, but I'm fairly certain that she won't agree to the things that are important to me. 😞 But you know what? That's actually okay by me because you're right - I'll just do my tarot deck on my own like I'd planned :).



  • I've got two threads going about what I thought was going to be a train wreck, lol, but I want to be sure everyone who's been helping me with it sees this...Here's today's update after my meeting with the client:

    HOLY MOLE!! Thank you @Lee-White for your business videos and your advice - they just saved what I thought was an unsave-able negotiation. I watched your video 3 and I screen capped a few things you had up so that I could educate the client on things like work for hire, buy out of rights, typical pricing, length of time it takes an illustrator to create a piece, etc. And then I encouraged her to do a little research herself and to look at other illustrators on Upwork, where she hired me. I told her that she could definitely get someone for cheaper, but she'll have to make some concessions somewhere, with style, time, etc. and most likely they won't have the knowledge of the tarot, animal symbolism & astrology that I have, which means she'll have to give them a lot more direction, rather than getting ideas. Watching the video really helped me to feel confident about what I was saying to her, which helped her calm down.

    At first she was clearly really upset, but after I talked with her she said she understood and she started asking me about other ways to pay me, like getting shares in her business or collaborating on the project, with me getting a percentage of the profits in return for a lower pay, and with us sharing copyrights (I'll have to ask about that). I said I'd definitely be interested in that, as long as I get attribution.

    Speaking of attribution, she apologized profusely for the portion of her contract that said that she'd take credit for creating it and she said that she didn't know it was in there (I don't believe that, because a few seconds later she was talking about how celebrities have tarot card sets that only have their name on them and not the artist's, but whatever, I told her I wouldn't do that and she agreed).

    SO, the train is back on track. I'm thinking of offering her exclusive unlimited worldwide rights for the original $10,5007, plus me getting 25% of the profits from the sale of the tarot, app & merchandise. Or is that too much? I don't know what percentage I should ask for...

    There's no guarantee she'll accept, since the contract isn't signed yet, but she's going to come up with some proposals for me and we're going to talk again on Monday. THANK YOU @Lee-White AND SVS!!!


  • SVS OG

    @amberwingart This is sounding better for sure - it might be worth mentioning to the client or getting in writing that you intend to make your own Tarot card deck in the future and that Tarot cards will have many similarities by their very nature - I would also do many thumbnails for each card in the deck and keep the most excellent ideas that are maybe the most personal for yourself - this way you will have all the preliminary work done for your own Tarot deck!...which you were going to do before you got the gig... just an idea - anyways I'm glad the negotiations are going well 🙂



  • @Kevin-Longueil That's a good idea - I'll put something about that in the contract, if she decides to go forward. I already told her about it verbally, which is, I think, why she had her attorney put that clause in there. She kind of hinted at that today. But I'm hoping this moves forward because all in all she seems like a nice lady and I think it'll be a really neat project to work on!



  • My biggest mistake when I got my first illustration job was not having a contract at all. I was so eager to get the job, I went with a gentlemans agreement. Big mistake. I sold the image with complete ownership, meaning I lost any rights to use it in my portfolio or use it as promotional materials. I am much more cautious now, and following this thread in detail. So, thank you for sharing 😉



  • @RobinSlee Yeah, this has taught me just how careful we have to be. I had a friend look at the original contract the client had wanted me to sign and as it turns out, if I'd signed it, I would have opened myself up for a lawsuit for ANY piece of work I created after that because of my style & chosen subject matter (animals). The contract was worded in such a way that anything I ever painted again could be considered "derivative" of the tarot set (which, according to the contract, would be suit-worthy) - even children's book illustrations, . So signing this single contract could have potentially ended my career before it begins. My friend says I would have had to have changed my style and/or subject matter completely so as not to get sued. Scary!



  • @RobinSlee But if you didn't have a contract, the copyright stays with you...I've read that, in absence of a written contract, copyright always stays with the creator. And in matters of dispute, it's almost always given to the creator...You may not have lost that piece after all if you got nothing in writing, because the client didn't get anything in writing either.



  • @amberwingart Interesting, really? I have never heard that before. I will have to dig a little deeper and check out some template contracts from the illustrators guild. Thanks for posting though, it just goes to show how treacherous these things can be! I am glad you managed to get yours back on track though, it was beginning to read like a nightmare!



  • @RobinSlee Yep! Here's something on copyrights. It's in reference to writing, but it's the same for visual art (or music or any creation). http://www.writing-world.com/rights/rights.shtml . Unless you specifically wrote down that you sold them the copyrights, then it still belongs to you.



  • @amberwingart Thankyou, I will give it a read 😉



  • @amberwingart So sorry that I disappeared! We're in the middle of buying a house and things got crazy. Sounds like you're back on track, but I just want to chime in and say one thing about your intuition: always trust your gut. There have been several times here where you've said that you haven't felt quite right about it. Those are red flags and typically there is something more lurking underneath the surface. Too many times I've ignored that feeling and I got burned every time.

    With this agreement, you're going to be in business for a long time with this person, make sure that you can trust them and that your contract is solid. You're doing great.


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