Business of Illustration

Business of Illustration

Business of Illustration is dedicated to educating new and aspiring artists to the field of illustration from a business perspective. Its primary focus is on the nuts and bolts of being an illustrator and what it takes to create a sustainable career in this challenging, creative field.

Subjects covered include finance, promotion, contracts, rights, and general knowledge for a career in illustration. Updated every Monday (work-permitting) it should be a great resource for anyone interested in working in the field.


A Cautionary Tale

Bill Mayer, a seasoned veteran illustrator, recently shared this cautionary tale. Innocently enough, he took on a cover illustration for an alternative weekly magazine with a very low budget because he loved the subject matter and thought that being an award-winning professional would earn him some creative freedom. Instead his best concepts were thrown out and his final illustration was micromanaged by the magazine’s advertisers. Then he was tarred and feathered by his peers for ever taking on the job.

Steve Brodner summed the whole thing up best:

One more thing I tell my students: if [clients] pay you like shit, they treat you like shit.

It might be a good time to review our tips on pricing technical illustration.

Have a similar horror story? Let us know if you can relate in the comments.

Contracts – You Want WHAT?

I was recently approached by a publisher of several software/tutorial magazines about doing a 6-page technical illustration primer. The pay was laughable, but the contract was downright insulting:

3.2 Anything that you […] produce or invent for [us] as part of, or in connection with, the Contract shall be [our] property absolutely and you shall assign or procure the assignment of all Intellectual Property in such things (whether existing now or arising in the future) free from all encumbrances to [us]. You also agree to obtain all releases that are necessary to enable [us] to exploit the Work as it sees fit. If you provide any of your own pre-existing Intellectual Property as part of the Contract you hereby grant [us] and, if relevant, Clients to whom the relevant Work has been provided, an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty free licence to use such Intellectual Property in relation to Work similar or equivalent to the Work.

Worse, still:

3.3 Where you are the author of the Work, you waive absolutely your right to be identified as the author of the Work […] and your right to object to derogatory treatment of it (granted by section 80 of that Act) and, so far as is legally possible, any broadly equivalent rights you may have anywhere in the world. Where you are not the author of the Work you undertake to obtain equivalent waivers from the authors.

…and in case they missed anything:

7.6 This contract may be reviewed and/or amended at any time by [us].

[Emphasis is mine]

Even if I was ready to work for next to nothing, even if I was willing to hand over all rights to whatever I created, even if I convinced myself that the exposure from a project like this was worth the work involved, they wanted me to waive my right to be identified as the author of the work. Oh and they could modify the contract at any time.

Illustrators — Read your contracts. Understand them. If they have bogus clauses, ask for changes or reject them outright.

What bogus clauses have you gotten on contracts? Let us know in the comments!