Our advice to illustrators is to be proactive and write a business plan! Until you do this, you can’t really understand or start to address the issues that are preventing you from getting where you want to be. I’m going to deep dive into two important areas of your business plan: the legal and the monetary.
These are the risks to your business, and if you do not get on top of them, any one of them can ruin your chances of a long and successful career. These are boring I know, but also essential for confidence and peace of mind.
Your copyright (the right to reproduce your own image) is your automatic right and livelihood. You must understand its value to the client and protect it. Push back against copyright assignments and protect the rights of your fellow illustrators.
It is essential that you are licensing your work and pricing accordingly. Fees for illustration are based on the size of the client and stipulations of the licence – the territory and length of time it will be used for, and the exact use(s). The fee reflects the value of your work to the client, the idea it communicates, and the sale it makes!
Over 80% of all client issues for illustrators arise from either not having a contract or not negotiating the one that was given to them.
If you are getting paid, you are entering into a business agreement, and every business agreement needs a contract. As a member of the AOI, we will give you an illustrator-commissioner agreement to use with every job, which is bulletproof. Likewise, every contract you receive from a client needs to be negotiated so you must read them and understand what they mean for you, and what you are agreeing to.