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Looking for some advice


lich0037

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Hello all,

I am in need of some advice. I hope I came to right place. Mods, if this is not the correct area to post something like this please move this thread where necessary.

I am currently working with a Minor League Baseball Class A team (which will remain anonymous) on developing a logo for the All Star Game that they will be hosting in 2012. They have asked me to create a couple of concepts to share with there All Star Game committee. From the first email message I asked about compensation. They said they couldn?t compensate at this point, but if the All Star Game committee liked one of the concepts they would work out a deal later. I?ve worked with the team in the past on a project but wasn?t compensated. All I received was event t-shirts, which I designed, and some team swag. Originally I was going to just send him the 3 concepts I have created free of charge in hope to strike a deal. But the more I think about the more I feel I should ask about being paid. I feel our business relationship is good and certain level of trust is there as well. But I also don?t want them to run away with my designs. I have some solid concepts, definitely not Studio Simon kind of stuff, but good enough for a class A team.

I really, really would like to land this gig, but also feel I should be paid. What should I do? Should I send him the concepts in hope the All Star Game committee likes one and they work out a deal with me later? Or should I have them pay me up front, like a deposit, or half up front half later? Or should I work out a contract with them, % of sales, etc.? I know minor league teams don?t have a lot of money, but I would think this something they would have budget for.

I know there are some great and experienced designers out on these boards. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time.

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I'm not a designer, but I am a businessman. It's one thing for a start-up venture or a non-profit group to seek out your help in creating an identity package (I've done so myself, on these very boards, in cases where there was no budget for it), but even at the single-A level, baseball is a business.

As such, you should reach a written agreement, in advance, stipulating that you'll receive compensation of some sort prior to disclosing anything to them - including, and particularly, concepts. Whatever logo they wind up using, from whatever source, I guarantee it will be used to generate revenues (via t-shirt and cap sales if nothing else), and as such, you should be compensated.

As for what form that compensation takes, that's the question.

If your client isn't inclined to provide you with an up-front fee but you still want to do the work, instead offer the option of a royalty on everything the club uses the design on - a flat, per-use fee for every use that isn't directly tied to revenue generation (such as advertising, printing on tickets, banners, etc.), together with a percentage royalty on anything that does generate revenue (game programs, shirts, caps, etc.). Make the per-use fee extremely reasonable, and make the percentage royalty high (start by asking for 15%, but settle for 10% - it's a nice, round number). Also demand verification of each, with (i) a detailed list of every item they use the design on, and (ii) a detailed accounting of every item they sell which employs the design.

If after that they don't agree to either of those terms, tell them to go piss up a rope.

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Not a designer. If you do choose to send over any images, I would probably watermark them all over so that they cannot even use them.

Watermarking your concepts will protect you like the umbrella protected Wile E. Coyote from falling rocks in Roadrunner cartoons.

Working for free screws you AND screws every other designer trying to scratch out a living. An All-Star game will be something these guys have a budget for. Make them use it on their mark.

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Anytime you do "pro bono" work, as much as it pains me to say because I love the great opportunities in these forums, you are hurting the design industry. I am a young designer just getting my feet wet straight out of school and lucky enough to have a full time design job. I mentioned to an old professor that a did an identity system on these forums for free, and he bitched me out for the same reasons said above. You definitly need to have a written/agree upon contract before you show any of your work to them like Mac the Knife said. If you do have a good relationship with them, they will be willing to work with you on this.

If you have time read through this article and comments. It's a good example of this topic. article

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Thanks for the responses. I've tried the watermarking thing before and sometimes that doesn't even work.

It seems the contract/written agreement is the way to go. Should I seek out a lawyer and have something written up? Or is that over kill? Does anyone have any templates or recommendations of where to find a contract? Just so I could see/use something for reference.

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*sigh* Well, first thing you need to do is to slap yourself silly. :P Rule #1, don't do any work, sketches or anything until you have been compensated 50%. You obviously did something a lot of people do, myself included. Ask yourself this simple question, "How much time was spent on these logos?" Let's say you spent 20 hours on them total. Let's say you are charging $10 an hour. That's $200 worth of work you've done, that you'll NEVER see! Let's say they throw you a t-shirt and a cap for it. That's what a total of $40 worth of merchandise? So you're still $160 in the hole plus time you lost working on them. So you're using your time unwisely, you're really $360 in the hole, because you could've used that time on something that will pay. We all learn the hard way, it's life.

Now that you can't change that. I'd go here and look at the link I'm about to give you on contracts: http://www.graphicartistsguild.org/resources/contract-monitor/. Don't send work out without a contract. Don't do it. A contract can be as simple as, "I ___________ agreed to do a logo for X Person for $100. The project will inlcude 3 revisions at no cost, any revisions after that will be $50." Have both parties sign it and a third party sign it, and you have a legal contract. I say third party, because that will help you in a "he said"/"she said" and you hand and mail a copy of the contract to everyone involved. This should've been done before you did any work. Another thing I would do is when you're at the graphic artist guild site, buy a copy or go to your local bookstore and order a copy of the Graphic Artist Guild Handbook. It has contracts in it and good advice packed away in there.

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Rule #1, don't do any work, sketches or anything until you have been compensated 50%.

Well, in this case at least, "Rule #1" can go out the window if a contract is in place, particularly one that's tied to royalties. As a businessman (and remember, not a designer) let me let you in on a not-so little secret - in any and every case where you believe that your client is going to make any serious money off of the use of what you create - forget the up-front cash and work out an equitable royalty arrangement with a verification structure in place that ensures you see how your work is used, and that you're compensated for it accordingly.

You've heard the adage that creative people aren't business people, and that business people aren't creative? Well, that's damned right. And as a result, often times the business people (us) screw over the creative people (you) out of a more fair share for your time, efforts, talents and energies. Actually, more to the point, you screw yourselves out of it - by insisting on up-front payments of 50%, flat rate compensation, and the like.

Case in point: several years ago (over a decade and a half ago now that I think of it), an Brazilian friend of mine hired an American graphic designer (not affiliated with the CCSLC to my knowledge) to develop a brand identity for a clothing line he launched in his home area. The designer had no real idea that what he was developing would be a vital piece of this guy's marketing scheme, and, as such, required a one-time, cash payment of $750 at the conclusion of the work. My friend GLEEFULLY paid him when the work was done, then proceeded to turn around and make 500x as much through selling clothes, and later other products and goods, under that brand.

My friend developed the name, the artist developed the brand and its identity, and then my friend made a mint off the overall concept. Now, what should have transpired was that the artist should have opted for a 2.5% royalty on all items sold bearing his work. Initially he would have seen nothing, but over the course of the first year alone he would have received nearly $10K, and today that designer would be seeing royalty checks of over $100K a year. But, he got his $750, and to my knowledge never learned what happened after he turned over the design, completely unaware of the opportunity he had just let slip through his grasp.

I, on the other hand, am working with a few guys here on the CCSLC on a private project which I hope I can shed some light on in the mid- to late part of 2011. In each case I've taken a business approach of offering the designers I've chosen the opportunity to get long-term, potentially substantial financial benefit from their work rather than up-front or one-time payments. In fact, I've absolutely insisted on this - simply because I know, as a business person, it's in their best interests (not mine) to do it that way. And if you look out for someone else's best interests in addition to your own, and it's recognized by a client, they will come back again and again.

My point with this all is simple: don't let creative people tell you about business, just as you don't let business people tell you how to be creative. The two can mix, but it's rare. I've seen numerous creative people here give incredibly short-sighted advice (like, for instance, and no knock on you Oddball, demanding 50% up front, before you show a client anything). The business people meanwhile will tell you that while yes, there in many cases it's advantageous to get what you can when you can get it - there are also instances (such as this one) where the larger number of dollars lies not in a one-time payment, but rather payment that's royalty-based.

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Mac the Knife, thanks for the insight and sharing your friend's story.

So it seems the contract is the way to go. I agree with the percentage royalty fee, but I feel I like should charge them for my design time on the actual logo as well. Kind of in two parts, 1) Bill for the design time of the logo, changes, etc. 2) Add a royalty fee to the logo for all generated revenue where the logo would be used. Is that the way to go or is that over kill too? I may be wrong, but I just think the generated revenue will be a small percentage of the logo use in a short-term time frame.

Thanks for the feedback so far.

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Rule #1, don't do any work, sketches or anything until you have been compensated 50%.

Well, in this case at least, "Rule #1" can go out the window if a contract is in place, particularly one that's tied to royalties. As a businessman (and remember, not a designer) let me let you in on a not-so little secret - in any and every case where you believe that your client is going to make any serious money off of the use of what you create - forget the up-front cash and work out an equitable royalty arrangement with a verification structure in place that ensures you see how your work is used, and that you're compensated for it accordingly.

You've heard the adage that creative people aren't business people, and that business people aren't creative? Well, that's damned right. And as a result, often times the business people (us) screw over the creative people (you) out of a more fair share for your time, efforts, talents and energies. Actually, more to the point, you screw yourselves out of it - by insisting on up-front payments of 50%, flat rate compensation, and the like.

Case in point: several years ago (over a decade and a half ago now that I think of it), an Brazilian friend of mine hired an American graphic designer (not affiliated with the CCSLC to my knowledge) to develop a brand identity for a clothing line he launched in his home area. The designer had no real idea that what he was developing would be a vital piece of this guy's marketing scheme, and, as such, required a one-time, cash payment of $750 at the conclusion of the work. My friend GLEEFULLY paid him when the work was done, then proceeded to turn around and make 500x as much through selling clothes, and later other products and goods, under that brand.

My friend developed the name, the artist developed the brand and its identity, and then my friend made a mint off the overall concept. Now, what should have transpired was that the artist should have opted for a 2.5% royalty on all items sold bearing his work. Initially he would have seen nothing, but over the course of the first year alone he would have received nearly $10K, and today that designer would be seeing royalty checks of over $100K a year. But, he got his $750, and to my knowledge never learned what happened after he turned over the design, completely unaware of the opportunity he had just let slip through his grasp.

I, on the other hand, am working with a few guys here on the CCSLC on a private project which I hope I can shed some light on in the mid- to late part of 2011. In each case I've taken a business approach of offering the designers I've chosen the opportunity to get long-term, potentially substantial financial benefit from their work rather than up-front or one-time payments. In fact, I've absolutely insisted on this - simply because I know, as a business person, it's in their best interests (not mine) to do it that way. And if you look out for someone else's best interests in addition to your own, and it's recognized by a client, they will come back again and again.

My point with this all is simple: don't let creative people tell you about business, just as you don't let business people tell you how to be creative. The two can mix, but it's rare. I've seen numerous creative people here give incredibly short-sighted advice (like, for instance, and no knock on you Oddball, demanding 50% up front, before you show a client anything). The business people meanwhile will tell you that while yes, there in many cases it's advantageous to get what you can when you can get it - there are also instances (such as this one) where the larger number of dollars lies not in a one-time payment, but rather payment that's royalty-based.

I don't disagree with you at all, but remember that if you're getting 50% up front, you're getting something. Of course the smart people also understand what they are working on and if I'm doing a logo for a sports team, I'm not only going to ask for 50% of the cost up front, I'm also putting in the contract 10% on all things sold with the logo, on it. Sure up front you may do a logo for $200, but figure if you're getting 10% of the products sold with the logo on it, you're making a hefty sum of money that will be rolling in for a few years. You're going to negotiate something and ask for compensation differently depending on the project. My theory is if I'm developing a logo for someone then they are using it to brand something, and when you brand something, you are selling products with the logo on it. If that's the case, then I'm asking for 5-10% of what they sell with the logo on it. I'll completely agree with mac and say that we creatives screw ourselves royally even if we are told how not to, until we learn by doing. Or some do. The ones that don't are working at Starbucks.

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I don't disagree with you at all, but remember that if you're getting 50% up front, you're getting something.

When asking for "up front" money, you completely have to (accurately) assess who it is you're dealing with, however - and the only way you demand that 50% up front is (i) if you don't give a damn if you actually get the work (because, in a lot of cases, your potential client will laugh you out of his office), (ii) you don't want the work (because you suspect/know the client to be a pain in the ass), or (iii) you know the project isn't going to make your client any money, in which case there's no ancillary revenue to split... and often, in that case you don't charge "full fare" for the work anyway.

Asking for half up-front is an outdated business practice in virtually any endeavor, including graphic design. Imagine going into an auto dealership and ordering a brand new car, to be built to your specs. After you hammer out all the details, all the features, all the options, etc., your car's going to cost $45K. The sales rep says, "Okay, before we go any further, I need $22,500, today." Once you stop laughing, you're going to walk - and that's precisely what 90% of graphic design clients are going to do given that situation.

This sounds flippant as hell but it's true: graphic designers, good, bad or ugly, are a dime a dozen. And there are tons out there that will do the work under their client's payment terms solely to get the job... and 90% of clients out there, if not more, will sacrifice quality in order to do things under their business conditions rather than yours. Demanding 50% up front simply drives business away to those people, right or wrong, and it's a business practice I personally think is little short of suicidal.

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You do for yourself what works, and I'll do for myself what works. Call it an outdated practice all you want to get 50% up front all you want, but it works. If a client wants to go to Joe Blow and not pay for me, that's fine, because guess what, clients are a dime a dozen, there's always someone willing to pay my price and there always will be. You come to me if you want the work done right and on time. You go find Joe Blow if you want the work done poorly or not at all. You make the choice pay for quality and done on time, or pay less for crap.

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You do for yourself what works, and I'll do for myself what works. Call it an outdated practice all you want to get 50% up front all you want, but it works. If a client wants to go to Joe Blow and not pay for me, that's fine, because guess what, clients are a dime a dozen, there's always someone willing to pay my price and there always will be. You come to me if you want the work done right and on time. You go find Joe Blow if you want the work done poorly or not at all. You make the choice pay for quality and done on time, or pay less for crap.

You're right, of course, though 98.6% of the time, you'll lose business because of it.

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