Saturday, December 14, 2019

Contracting as a freelance illustrator

Hello! I have been absent because I jumped feet first into the freelance illustration world. I saw a request for an illustrator, the book description matched very well with my own skills and interests, and after a few email exchanges I found myself writing up a contract!

Piggy backing on my last post, these are the basics I had to work out before I started the project:
1) What services I was offering.
2) How I was going to ensure that I was capturing the author's vision.
3) How many revisions our contract was going to allow and how much additional revisions would cost.
4) The price of the project.
5) Getting it all down in a contract to ensure everyone understood expectations, payment schedules, services, ownership and use of the illustrations, and timelines.

In order to even get to the price, you'll see that I had to solidify what I was and was not offering. For example, I did storyboard and provide basic layout, but I am not formatting the book - that would best be accomplished by someone who has already had experience with the publishing platform the author pursues. I also had to see what the author had written and his basic expectations for the illustrations in order to understand what I was agreeing to do before I could decide on what I was charging. This book required several pages that contained two illustrations with accompanying text, for example. That meant more white space on those pages, but also more illustrations.

After identifying the author's vision, the medium, the number of illustrations, and the look he wanted, I had to determine a process for including the author along the way. To me, this means getting feedback on the storyboard to check in about basic content and blocking for each page. Then I did an initial sketch of each page and got feedback before moving to the full illustration. That way, revisions are made early in the process. I work in traditional mediums, and that means I can't easily revise my work.

Speaking of revisions, even though the process I laid out helps avoid having to scrap a whole page and start fresh, that can still happen. In the contract I put together, I specified the number of times I would be willing to revise pages before I charged extra. Our contract also specified the amount I would charge for each revised page after that.

Once the author and I agreed on the price of the project, I customized a contract template with all these details. The contract template I used included the rights/ownership of the work, specified how we were each allowed to use the illustrations, spelled out the process I'd be using to unfold the project and the time frame. The contract also specified payment would be received in three payments (1/4 upfront, 1/4 when half the work was complete and how that was measured, and remainder upon completion). You'll see that there are different contract templates for different types of ownership rights and work arrangements, allowing you to choose the one that works best for your specific project.

Arriving at a price
There is not a set price for a freelance illustrator. When I determined what to charge, I took into consideration my experience level (I was new to illustrating children's books but have considerable experience doing custom work and commissions), how much my work typically sells for, the timeline, the amount of work and time the project would take, and how easy I thought it would be to work with the author. I have a lot of project experience, and I know that a difficult client can really slow down a project.

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