Copyright and pricing.

I found the AOI a very useful site (I joined as a student member), full of resources on legal issues, contracts, pricing etc.

I thought about copyright in respect to my own work and other people.

My work:

I was interested to read that my work is automatically copyrighted, even without the copyright symbol. Of course that doesn’t mean that people don’t still think that if it’s on the internet, it is free to appropriate and of course enforcing copyright can be difficult.

I looked at copyright in respect to other people’s work. I am very careful not to use images of other people’s work on my blog and find using a link works well.

Other people’s work:

I use photo references quite a lot but I use them to make drawings from which is fine from a copyright point of view. I rarely use (if ever?) use other illustrators work as a reference and I was interested to read that copying someone else’s work would be a breach of copyright.

I use collage a lot in my personal work but tend to use fragments. The essence is that someone else’s work should not be clearly recognisable. I will bear that in mind but I don’t think it would be  generally an issue.

Pricing Issues:

I was interested to see that Graphic Design is paid as an hourly rate or flat fee, but Illustration is priced differently.

I had no idea that the most important considerations for Illustration are to do with USAGE, TERRITORY, and DURATION.

In other words, where will the illustration be used (magazine, book cover, bill board, etc), which countries and for how long.

Other costs are then factored in (e.g. deadlines, client profile etc)

Other key issues that cropped up are that of ASSIGNMENT OF COPYRIGHT (illustrators should always retain it) and not working for free. Not working for free includes doing roughs and generating ideas and these should include rejection fees.

Working with a client

I have done various pieces of work for other people and have learnt quite a lot through the experience.

Promotional Card for friend:

Strengths: this was at an early stage of my course so it was a good opportunity to practice what I was learning. (This was graphic design rather than illustration)

Weakness: I didn’t feel I had a very clear brief and once I had produced the design my friend asked for many changes. My inexperience made me feel defensive and prickly about having my design criticised.

Opportunity: It made me reflect on how to handle a client who asked for many alterations without knowing how time consuming it might be. It highlighted for me how poorly I handled criticism.

Threat: It could have damaged my friendship!

My payment for this was a piece of my friend’s work which was a good exchange. I have subsequently done other bits and pieces for the same friend on a quid pro quo basis and there has been no problems and it has all gone satisfactorily.

Wedding Invitation 1 for family :weddingceiling

Strengths: Again this was at an early stage of my course and so an opportunity to practice my skills. I put in quite a bit of work and came up with 3 different designs.

Weakness: There was a failure of communication over the brief  and after a while it became clearer  that what was wanted were simple line drawings to go on the invitations etc and the bride did all the rest (design, font, paper etc). It took me quite a while to work this out.

Opportunity: Again, a learning opportunity. I learned that there are some clients who will do all your work for you and it is easier to just let them. She also did an excellent job for which I received the credit on the day(!) and introduced me to a font which I still find useful.

Threat: I found it hard to swallow my pride and let someone else takeover (which seems ridiculous now).

Wedding Invitation 2 for family:flowers.jpeg

Strength: More confident this time, I tried to ask for plenty of information upfront and was given a fairly clear brief of an illustration for the invitation and the menu cards.

Weakness: Not knowing the bride very well I was too reticent in clarifying a contradictory detail of colour and the bride’s bouquet. I felt personally that I should have used a different shade of pink but the bride and groom were happy with what I had done.

Opportunity: next time I would make sure I clarified such an issue

Threat: I would have hated the bride and groom to be disappointed.

Children’s book Illustration:oandlpage89ai

Strength: A few years ago I was asked by a neighbour to produce illustrations for a children’s book project. I liked the story but at the time it felt at the outer limits of my capabilities so I was pleased at seeing it through to producing a mock up of around 26 pages, which was as far as we took it at the time. When we looked at it again, recently, we sought feedback from other people to see about any changes and I was far more comfortable with looking for and receiving criticism.

Weakness: From the start of the project I was a reluctant participant. My style is very loose and expressionistic whilst the story is a linear narrative about children moving to a new place with the parallel of red kites (birds) being reintroduced. The story would probably suit a more realistic style of illustration and I am not interested in portraying wildlife or places in a realistic way. If anything my work is moving in the opposite direction towards fantasy / symbolic interpretations. We discussed possible changes and ultimately my neighbour decided to look elsewhere for an illustrator.

Opportunity: It made me think about working for free. As a speculative project it would be reasonable to work for no payment.  It could have been a great showcase for my work, a big project to have in my portfolio, however children’s books is not the direction I feel I am headed.

Threat: It would have taken so much time for relatively little reward. There was no publisher so we would have had to self publish. In order to sell any copies we would have had to get involved in promoting the book which I would have felt very uncomfortable with. My neighbours’ viewpoint was that this was a fun, artistic collaboration, but it felt unequal to me as it would have been so time consuming and my heart wasn’t really in the work itself. I think I would have ended feeling resentful about the time and constraints involved.

I am very interested to see if my neighbour finds another illustrator and on what financial basis they would take the work on.

Overall doing this exercise has clarified for me that I would not be interested in working for any commercial client and even that I would have difficulty doing any work which I didn’t have a personal interest in doing. It seems clear that I am going to have to be my own client and produce self directed work.


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