Got my 1st gig. Now what? Help!

  • Hey everyone,

    I'm interviewing for my 1st illustration gig today and so far it's looking good. But I'm really worried I won't be able to perform. It's a gig creating a tarot card deck in my style with my animals. It couldn't be more awesome and perfect. BUT - I have no idea what time frame to quote her. Realistically, 78 cards could take me all year! Could you please tell me what time frame you'd quote?

    It's an hourly gig paying $18 an hour and Upwork takes 20% an hour out, so it's really $14). I know that's not spectacular but right now my family needs the money and I think for a 1st gig it's not bad. I just don't want her thinking she's going to spend $1000 on illustration when it's likely many times more than that. Help!

  • @amberwingart something i always ask potential clients is what their deadline is that they want the project by because ultimately you work for them now.
    Second i would work on one and see how long it takes me to do it fully. That usually helps in testing out how fast you work. Be sure to include breaks.

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @amberwingart Congrats on the job! That first thing is how long would it take you to do one card? Then multiple that by how many. Then figure out how many days it would take depending on how many hours you put in a day. I would then add an additional month to give some extra time for things that may come up. If it was me, i would say for that amount of work it would take at least 5 months. And that would have to be the only project I am working on.

  • I got it! I'm going to get paid $133 per image (for a total of a little over $10,000 for the set. And I gave her a time frame of 15-20 months. She'd like it to be done sooner, of course, but I told her not to expect it because it's not realistic for me to finish 5 pieces per month(for a total of 78 cards plus the back side of the card). I'd have to finish a piece every couple of days and with my style that's completely unrealistic. So now I'm worried, but hopefully it'll be okay...I just wish I was getting paid more per image, but $10,000 for a first illustration gig is pretty good overall, I think, so I'm happy.

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    That is amazing CONGRATS!!! Is there a contract to make sure she doesn't back out on you?

  • @Chip-Valecek Thank you!! I'm supposed to write up a contract to give to her today, but I'm trying to find an illustration contract template that I can use since I'm not sure what to say. I'm so nervous that I spent all of last night tossing and turning & thinking of ways to back out myself. But I think this is a great project for me & I'm just being a bit self sabotaging, so I'm gonna move forward with it...

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    I think Lee White mentioned there are some boiler plate templates out there you can use. I have a simple one that I use that basically just requires half up front and then the other half when the project is delivered. I had a few where I broke it down by stages. Payment required at each stage. In case they decide to back out I at least get paid for what I have done.

    Your work is amazing! Don't doubt yourself on the project. You are going to nail it!!

  • congrats Savina! That's a great project.
    I would say the most important thing is to draw a strong contract to protect yourself and your time.
    Highlight the number of revision you are willing to make before you start charging her for them.
    Best of luck!

  • @Chip-Valecek Thank you so much Chip - I really do have a major tendency to doubt myself right out of good opportunities.

    I think I'm going to break it down into the first half of the payments for the sketches first, then payments of the second half as I complete the drawings. That way it'll go a little faster and I can get paid along the way.

  • @Doha Thank you for the suggestion - I hadn't thought about revisions...I wonder if I should charge extra for those or if they should be included?

  • @amberwingart you could be generous and say something like the first revision is free unless it requires a major change (probably define major). I would imagine that you will be submitting the sketches for the person's approval first. So if they sign off on them they shouldn't expect you to do a bunch of revisions.

    I would highly, highly, highly recommend you setting up some kind of a payment schedule. Like, every 25 images you get paid. You really, without any doubt, do NOT want to wait until all 78 are delivered to get the lump sum.

    That would be a no go for me if they didn't agree to this. Honestly, every 10 images would probably be better given how much time you will have invested in each of them.

  • @mattramsey Ok that's a good idea...I got killed in my last website design commission because I didn't get a contract and the client just expected revision after revision of his CONTENT (not technical issues) and he kept calling mistakes HE GAVE ME in the content "glitches." It was an absolute nightmare and it's lasted a YEAR - that's 8 months past when we were supposed to be finished. That's whats really made me nervous about doing this commission. So I just need to get the contract down right, including (maybe even especially) the part about the revisions.

    As far as pay, I was thinking I'd charge something like $500 when the first 10 initial sketches are submitted, then $500 for the next initial sketches, then $500 for the first 10 finalized sketches, $500 for the next. And then I'll charge per image as I get them all colored.

    But...should I charge something up front? I don't want to start doing work with nothing down.

    And what should I put in the contract about if she wants to cancel mid way through? Should there be a charge? Should it not be possible to cancel? Should the copyright then revert to me? What did you put in your contract for the card game?

  • @Lee-White & @Jake-Parker Your input would be so greatly appreciated also!!

  • @amberwingart said in Got my 1st gig. Now what? Help!:

    ...I'm supposed to write up a contract to give to her today, but I'm trying to find an illustration contract template...

    I hope I'm not too late to jump in and help here. I've been down this road. You have lots of good advice, so I'll add this: don't be afraid to walk away if the money isn't right or if the client isn't willing to pay a portion (30-50%) up front. In my experience, those that are unwilling to put money down will screw you. Also, you work very hard for both a cheap client and an generous one.

    I did a short podcast on contracts that you can find here:
    There is a book called, "Graphic Artist's Guild Pricing and Ethical Guidelines Handbook" that has industry standard rates for all kinds of design and illustration projects. It also includes template contracts that you can use for a variety of creative works. I hope this helps!

  • Amber, I congratulate you on your first gig.
    I have been working on sites like upwork since 2008. I don't mean to scare you or anything, but I think I should share some of my experiences.

    Before upwork there were other sites like scriptlance (which is now owned by getafreelancer). Upwork and elance were one of the "better" ones since the client base and the worker base in general was a bit more capable. The sites were mostly populated by People from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh who can put bids as low as $1 or 50 cents per hour. My point is, most people who come to upwork have either migrated from there (the workers) or they have heard they can hire cheap labor on those sites. That mentality still rules most of those websites I'm afraid so please be careful.

    Be very specific and clear about how many hours you think you will need to finish before you start and there will ofcourse be the hour logger software provided by upwork to log in your hours and that will lock the money the client owes you from the client's account.

    Since this is a long project, you can get into a milestone type payment but upwork does not gurantee a payment of that sort like the logged hours. If you live in the USA better get into a proper legal contract so that they know they cant take you lightly. Most often than not, jobs that require long periods of time like yours can end up being left by the client and you become the ghost worker. Just be careful please.
    All the best.

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @amberwingart Hey! Congrats on the job!

    Here is what I recommend for ya:

    1. Go watch the business videos. If you haven't done that, you need to.

    2. Go buy a digital copy of the Graphic Arts Guild: Pricing and Ethical guidelines. Use their contracts.

    3. Get a signed contract from your client (2 copies, one for you and one for them).

    4. Get a payment advance. Typically this will be at least 1/3. If this is a private person (not a company), do not take less than this amount. If they don't want to pay this, walk away. A client who won't pay in the beginning is definitely not going to pay in the end.

    5. Try to speed up and automate your process so you are quicker. One card every two days should be the goal. I've simplified my art somewhat over the years and just finished a 32 page picture book in 31 days. That's one finished image per day. This will make/save me thousands of dollars in a single year. Time is money, and if you are slow you will pay for it. So the question becomes how can you speed your process up? Think like the animation industry. Use backgrounds over and over and just paint the new stuff on top. Try to reuse imagery where you can. Build digital brushes that take the work out of image making, etc. Each person is different, but every pro needs to figure this out in their own way.

    6. Get the second payment (of 1/3 the total bill) after you deliver sketches. Don't work on just one card at a time. Try to bring them all up at the same time. So submit all sketches, then get approval, then do the edits/revisions, then on to final paint. Get the last 1/3 payment at the delivery of final art.

    7. See if you can use some of these as promotion throughout the year. It will build an audience for the project and keep you in the public eye. Many book illustrators fail AFTER their first book deal because no one sees them for a year while they work on the book!

    That's it for now. Go kick some booty!! : )

  • @Lee-White You rock!!! Thank you SO SO much! I've been so scared about all of this that I've almost self sabotaged myself out of it. I have one more question though...

    I didn't tell her that I'd be asking for any money up front because I was scared of losing the gig. How do I now come back to her and say that I want an advance? We have our first meeting on Thursday to go over the contracts. Should I wait until then to tell her or should I say something now? Or should I say that I require 1/3 down after the first set of 10 sketches are delivered and act like that's just normal? 😕

  • Thank you so much @corykerr and @Nazuba for the input and advice!! I'm feeling so much pressure on this one that I already messed up by not telling the client I require a down payment :(. Now I'm not sure how to come back to her and ask for one without sounding unprofessional. We have our first art direction meeting on Thursday, where we're also going to go over the contract, so I was thinking I could say that I require 1/3 down after the first 10 sketches are delivered. That's the only way I can think to fix this... Do either of you have any suggestions? 😕

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    I would do it like this:

    Take the contract to her and just go over all the details. Just bring the payment schedule up during that process. You will need to discuss rights, and dates, and all sorts of stuff. The payment schedule is just part of that. Try not to have anxiety around it. This is the normal way people get paid on long term contracts. If there is any reluctance on her part, explain that you need the advance to support doing the art. Otherwise how would artists pay rent and groceries if they didn't have money for a year! : )

    Again, it IS a deal breaker if she doens't want to do it. Do not do a ton of work and expect to be paid later. That rarely ever works out in our favor. If she has questions, send her to me: Id be happy to help out.

  • @Lee-White Thank you so much Lee!!! As you can probably tell, I'm a ball of nerves. The performance anxiety is bad enough, but this... lol

    I'll go watch the business videos - I haven't seen those yet!

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