Help with pricing for wine labels



  • Hi everyone, I would love to hear if anyone as experience with pricing for wine labels.

    I’ve been contacted by an Australian wine maker who is developing a new range of wines to be sold at national liquor shops over there.

    After asking some first questions he got back to me with this :
    About 160 USD per label, 2 labels, re-using illustrations I have on my website.
    Then saying that if this goes well he might ask 2-3 over the course of the year. I presume it would be a commission then.

    I’ve never done packaging illustration before but I read into the GAG pricing book (edition 14th) that price ranges from $1000 - 4500 for commissioned piece.
    In my case the client wants to re-use an existing illustration, so I’m not sure how to price…

    Also he’s asking for one illustration that is already used on coffee cup over there (which I didn’t get paid, it is a ‘charity’ project for cafes to buy 'environmental friendly' cups). I still own all the rights but it seems weird to me to re-use the same image. What do you think?

    I’m thinking his fee is quite low as in packaging illustration it seems to be a flat fee and my name won’t appear anywhere, also my bank will charge me some % to convert money in Euros.

    I’m a newbie in the illustration world (have only done one editorial job) so many thanks in advance to anyone who can help!


  • SVS OG

    @marine I don't have any experience in that field but it definitely sounds like they are trying to get a steal of a deal. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable using an illustration already associated with a charity for use by a different client. It seems like they think they can short change you because these are images you have already done (work already completed) and not work you will have to do.



  • Thank you so much for taking the time to reply @Jon-Anderson !
    I agree with you.
    He might have no previous experience with hiring illustrators so maybe I should try to submit my own quote for what he's asking but not sure how to price it though...


  • Pro

    @marine If the client wants to use an existing illustration, this is called licensing. It means you are selling the copyrights to your illustration instead of your time, basically. I'm fairly certain the GAG would have a section for prices on licensing, and that will give you a better idea than the commission prices. Still, this does seem very low.


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    This is a great discussion, but I would like to clarify some terms. I hope this doesn't come across as picking on anyone because I really mean it for everyone and I understand how the terms/concepts can get confusing. I also realize that @NessIllustration is in Canada and @marine is in France while I am in the US, so some details may be slightly different.

    I am speaking from an understanding of US Copyright Law and as a self-employed, freelance illustrator.

    Anytime an illustrator creates a piece of artwork for a client in which the intended use is any kind of reproduction the illustrator is "licensing" to the client some (or all) of the copyright associated with that artwork.

    I am emphasizing the term "licensing" because it is legally different that the term "sell".

    While it is possible for an illustrator to "sell" their copyright (or some portion of their copyright) of a given image this has different repercussions on the illustrator's relationship to their artwork.

    When you "license" copyright(s) it is similar to "renting". That is, there is an expectation that ownership of both the physical artwork and the associated copyright remains with the illustrator. Once the client has exhausted the license (usually via a time limitation specified in the Grant of Rights), the rights licensed revert back to the the illustrator and remain with them for the life of the illustrator plus 70 years. During which time the illustrator can re-license portions of the artwork's copyright to other clients.

    When you "sell" copyright(s) those uses are "transferred" to the client. The illustrator no longer has any legal connection to the copyright(s). The client now "owns" the copyright for 95 years from the date of creation.

    While the amount of time required to create a piece of art may be one of the many factors considered when pricing an image is should never be the primary factor. "Usage" (that is, the scope of the copyright licensed) and potential value to the client is the most important factor in pricing.


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @marine said in Help with pricing for wine labels:

    Hi everyone, I would love to hear if anyone as experience with pricing for wine labels.

    I’ve been contacted by an Australian wine maker who is developing a new range of wines to be sold at national liquor shops over there.

    After asking some first questions he got back to me with this :
    About 160 USD per label, 2 labels, re-using illustrations I have on my website.

    My first question would be how many bottles does he plan to sell? And how much for each bottle?

    The label is going to be one of the first reasons that anyone bothers to pick up the bottle. I am comfortable with the packaging being roughly 10% of the cost of the product.
    So for a $16 bottle, 10% is $1.60 And if he plans to sell 100 bottles then that works out to $160 for this pressing. But if he plans to sell 1000 bottles a fairer price would be $1600.

    The fact that the interest are for two previously created images should make no difference in terms of pricing. The value of the images does not change for the client. In fact there is an argument that these images are MORE valuable since the client knows EXACTLY what he will be getting. And the images are ready to go NOW.

    Then saying that if this goes well he might ask 2-3 over the course of the year. I presume it would be a commission then.

    I am not a fan of this negotiation tactic. The promise of possible future work in exchange for a discounted rate now. Too often that possible future work never comes.
    Feel free to be excited about the possibility of future work but don't count on it and don't consider it as part of your pricing for this project. Here's why:

    The client pays you $1600 for the label. The packaging is great and he sells out of all 1000 bottles at $16 per bottle. He's generated $16,000. That licensing fee is going to look like a deal! The client will view the project as successful. Your work is now associated with a successful project. You were a total pro. Easy to work with an on time and on budget. He's going to call again!

    or

    Client pays you $160 for the label, but the wine doesn't sell. He's going to feel like the $160 licensing fee was "wasted" and won't call again.

    I’ve never done packaging illustration before but I read into the GAG pricing book (edition 14th) that price ranges from $1000 - 4500 for commissioned piece.
    In my case the client wants to re-use an existing illustration, so I’m not sure how to price…

    Fundamentally approach pricing it exactly the same whether or not you license a new piece or a previously created piece. If you would REALLY like to make the deal, I would clearly state in the pricing quote that you are discounting the license fee (slightly -- say 10%) because it is part of your image archive. Everyone likes a deal!

    Also he’s asking for one illustration that is already used on coffee cup over there (which I didn’t get paid, it is a ‘charity’ project for cafes to buy 'environmental friendly' cups). I still own all the rights but it seems weird to me to re-use the same image. What do you think?

    My business model is based largely on re-licensing images in my archive. This is common for many illustrators.
    If you have a contract with the charity you should check your contract. If the winery and the cafes have some kind of conflict you could have some legal exposure. Otherwise just to be a decent human, I would be just contact the charity and let them know that this use is pending. I can't imagine they would begrudge you actually generating income off of your intellectual property. And if they did, then simply let them know that they can have an "exclusive" license -- for a fee.

    I’m thinking his fee is quite low as in packaging illustration it seems to be a flat fee and my name won’t appear anywhere, also my bank will charge me some % to convert money in Euros.

    Without more information it's hard to say if this is low. Again, if he's going to sell 20 bottles for $8 per bottle, then the $160 offered is a big part of his potential profit. Communication with the client is a big part of the art of pricing.

    But the fact that you have the GAG PEGS is a great resource. It's a good place to start. But it's also not the end of the process.



  • Thank you so much @davidhohn for your in-depth answer!

    I followed your pricing exemple with the info that the client gave me so far.

    He says 250 odd dozen of each variety so what I understand is that he plans to produce 250x12= 3000 bottles per variety, so per label.
    For the price of the bottle he says that between $6,45 and $12,90RRP is where the vast sales are so he won't go over that I suppose.

    So if $10 a bottle, 10% is $1 and for 3000 bottles, the budget is giving me is very low...

    One excuse that he told me is that because I provide only the illustration he has to pay someone to do the graphic design on top. (and I have no competence in doing graphic design)
    So I have a lot to think...

    I will get in touch with the charity project in the meantime.


  • Pro

    @marine With his reasoning even if you and the graphic designer were to split 10% then you would still get $1500 per label. That's a long way away from $160 so he doesn't really have a leg to stand on here...



  • I cant' believe I only see your answer regarding "licensing " now @davidhohn , sorry about that and thank you for giving more infos on the terms.

    I understand that in my case it would be consider as licensing one illustration for that batch of bottles only. Of course this would need to be written in the agreement.

    Does anyone would have suggestion on how to write my email for submitting my own quote for the client's project?
    Because there will be big gap from what is offering, but I still want to be thankful that he thought of my illustrations in the first place. Maybe he will realise that his budget is not realistic and agree on more...

    Many thanks!



  • @marine This might help. I got this Licensing illustration! from AOI Newsletter in the UK. Useful to have a print out of. It’s quite handy for reference.
    0137E578-F660-492C-A411-93F32C721938.png
    4F67FF25-E057-420E-AB25-F461C8E24F67.png



  • @sigross Thank you for sharing these!


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