What do you charge if somebody wants to use your design?



  • Hi folks!

    I just recently started posting more of my stuff online on instagram and facebook (dieheinrich1202 on instagram).

    Today a manufacturer of guitars and other stringed instruments contacted me and asked, if he could use one of my drawings he saw on facebook to make a nacre (perlmutter?) inlay on an instrument out of it.
    The A4 sized drawing shows a red dragon with ink linework and coloured with spectrum noir markers (to be seen on instagram and facebook) and it took me about two to three hours to do it.

    I roughly know the guy and I know that he builds really cool instruments - years ago he did a gorgeous inlay on a bouzouki for my ex-boyfriend with a hops and barley design I had done.
    Back then my boyfriend paid me to do that special design.

    Okay, my actual question is:
    Do I charge the instrument guy something for using my design (since the work has already been done and it wasn't an actual commission by him)?
    What do I charge? Like the freelancer fee that a normal - not highly famous - illustrator would charge for the two to three hours he worked on the actual drawing?

    Has anybody of you had the same situation, that somebody wanted to use one of your designs or drawings that you had just done for yourself?

    Thanx in advance
    Nina from Germany


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    Congratulations on getting this inquiry!

    Your questions:
    - Do I charge the instrument guy something for using my design (since the work has already been done and it wasn't an actual commission by him)?

    Yes, you should charge the instrument guy for using your design. The basis of the illustration profession is illustrators create an image and then license that image to various clients to reproduce that image for a fee.

    -What do I charge? Like the freelancer fee that a normal - not highly famous - illustrator would charge for the two to three hours he worked on the actual drawing?

    There are a variety of ways of thinking about this (an hourly rate is certainly one), but I would discourage from pricing based on the 2-3 hours spent creating the image. Instead I would encourage you to charge based on the potential value of the image to the client. To do this you would need to know:

    How much does each guitar cost?
    I'll pick a random amount of $500 per guitar

    How many guitars will your image be used on?
    I'll pick another random number of 5 guitars.

    So based on the numbers above, the guitar maker expects to generate $2500 after selling all the guitars with your image on it. If you were to ask for 10%-20% of the sale price then you'd be requesting a licensing fee of $250 - $500 (or $50 - $100 per guitar)

    And of course if the guitar maker sells out of the guitars they could then easily come back to you and license the image for another 5 guitars. This could continue until the guitar makers decides to stop licensing your red dragon image.



  • @davidhohn

    Thanx for the quick answers.
    This definitely helps a lot. 🙂


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