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Weird illustration job?

Nothing to beware of yet, but I wanted to make sure. I could use you guys' advice.


So I was contacted by this person on DeviantART (her profile said she was 14) saying that her father was interested in hiring me for an illustration job. I got his email and a link to his DA account, and was told to email him saying what my prices are.

Since I had no idea what the job entailed and what the purpose was, I decided to inquire to see what was up. He tells me the job is for a small toy company he is presenting ideas to. He wants three illustrations, but I'm still not sure what he really wants and what the purpose of my illustrations will be. He attached a picture he did, a mangled version of my Elemental Fire Fox piece and says he wants this but as a snake, a lion and a wolf. It's the head and front legs of the fox and pieces of fire connected with large awkward black blocks. My watermark is not found anywhere on the picture.

I would show you guys what it look like, but I get red-x syndrome every time I try to put it in photobucket. =/

He tells me that if the company chooses my art (which he apparently using to present his ideas) that there will be a job. That the toys will be sold in South American and possibly the US.

This seems iffy because:
a) The person's 14 year old daughter contacted me for this job, not himself. That's a little bizarre, why wouldn't he send me a note or an email himself?

b) He's already assuming he can use existing artwork of mine to present to this company, which I never said he could. He mangled a piece I did without my permission, which already rubs me the wrong way....

c) Vague city! What will these illustrations be used for? Who is paying me (him or the toy company)? What are the toys going to be like? What is the name of the toy company?

I'm afraid that if this IS something I shouldn't pass up, telling him he shouldn't have mangled my art will ruin the oppertunity for me. I simply don't know how to respond to this guy, or what to make of this. Also, how do I price each illustration if it's for a package design?

Not too sure on all this, so any feedback is a good thing! ^^;


[edit] I got an email response from him, but since this entry is getting s little long I'll lj-cut it.

I got an email back from the guy so lets see what you guys think now:

</i>"I appreciate your enthusiasm. I will try to answer as best I can.

- the black blocks are for text
- this will go on the package
- I will pay you
- you will not have contact with the toy company, you are a sub-contractor. I will need you to fill out a tax id form if this goes forward.
- I'm sorry I don't understand the last question

As the designer/art director I am originating the concept. I need the help of an illustrator to do the detail work and rendering. If I where you, the question I would ask is: what is my time worth?

As an artist, I understand your point of view, I've been there before. Just ask yourself how long will this take me and how much money do I want? Keep in mind, you will need to re-render, this is not a cut and paste job---I need a painter/illustrator.

If you have any more questions feel free to call or write.

-Orlando
(xxx) xxx-xxxx mobile"</i>



Tax id form? I've done subcontract work before and not had to do that. Is my experience normal, or is what he's asking normal? Just not keen on giving this guy that sort of information after how fishy this job arose.

I wrote back:


"Hey again Orlando!

I understand how to price my art, I have been doing this for a few years now, so it's ok. I just needed to know what the job was for, thank you. =) That last part wasn't a question actually, I need you to include the original form of my artwork which you used to create your concept in your presentation to the toy company.

I'm not interested in contacting the toy company, but I still (out of curiosity) would like to know what the toy company is, to see if I've heard of them or not. Knowing who is using my art is always a bonus when presenting my portfolio to other potential clients. Your company name will help in putting my portfolio together as well.

Knowing this is not a cut and paste job is a plus for me, as I'm not a graphic designer I'm an illustrator! I'm looking forward to the opportunity to render something totally brand new for you, should the toy company choose the concept with my art.

If it gets accepted, we can discuss a contract. I'm happy you picked me as one of the potential artists, I'm crossing my fingers!

~Katie Hofgard
"

[edit 2]



From him:
"I still need an estimate so I know if I can afford you or not. Keep in mind there will be three animals of similar complexity as the fox. Also, let's make sure we include the rest of the body of the animal. Not just the head. I don't mean to be pushy but, since I cannot afford to go to a large agency I'm reaching out to various artists. I really need an answer."


Not having my questions answered, I decided to give him a very basic estimate, no guarantees to see if that will get me some answers. I'm not too pleased with the way he's treating me so far, even though he's no being directly insulting.


"I understand exactly what you are asking of me, I still need to know
what your company name is and the name of toy company. My apologies,
this is an unusual way to approach an artist. I am also uncomfortable
that you altered my artwork, my watermark and copyright are not
visible in the alteration, and that you are using my artwork for a
commercial presentation without my permission. So please, understand
my apprehension.

If you were to hire me, each illustration will require a deposit of at
least ____. During the process of making the illustration, I will log
my hours and how many changes are made to each illustration (say, if
you're not satisfied with the first version or want major changes),
and likely there will be additional fees beyond a certain point.
Royalties are also an issue, but most of this stuff would be worked
out in the contract, so none of it is solid. Which is why I would
want to get to a contract before agreeing to anything for sure."


I hope I'm not letting slip a great oppertunity by being picky, almost everything about this says no to me. =( More updates when I get 'em.
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Comments

( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
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moodyferret
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
I would stay away from him - that seems fishy.

Or...make sure you get paid up front.
feralityillust
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
Honestly, if he already used your artwork without permission, he is already being unprofessional and I wouldn't have much hope for him being professional about this toy deal either. I would definitely ask for more information before you make a decision. Sorry that's not much help. = /
eski
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
I edited my post just now with our current correspondance. =3 Gives me more info to work with!
(no subject) - feralityillust - Jul. 18th, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eski - Jul. 18th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - feralityillust - Jul. 18th, 2008 10:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
lozpie
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:26 pm (UTC)
Sounds suspicious...

I'd try to at least talk on the phone with him, get his business/home address, the name of the toy company... just politely say that you might be interested but you need a lot more details before you're willing to commit to anything, and ask what his budget is/payment details.

If it sounds ok, ask him to send you a contract before you do anything. If he is a clueless nobody looking to use you, he'll probably freak out at the idea of getting a contract made and run a mile. If he's legit then you can read the contract, get it checked by a professional to make sure it's sound, and feel happier about moving forward.

I'm no expert but I hope this helps a little..
lozpie
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
heh, I replied before you edited...

I find it odd that he mentions tax forms and not A CONTRACT? contracts always come first.

He sounds patronizing. Most people looking for illustrators find them using catalogs, at least from what I've been told. So him approaching you like this through deviantart - and in my opinion - talking down to you, makes me feel like he's looking for a clueless student type to rip off. Did he tell his daughter to find him an artist?

the whole sentence but especially this annoyed me:
"you will not have contact with the toy company, you are a sub-contractor."

I'm interested to see what his next response will be....
(no subject) - eski - Jul. 18th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lozpie - Jul. 18th, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lozpie - Jul. 18th, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eski - Jul. 19th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lozpie - Jul. 19th, 2008 12:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lozpie - Jul. 19th, 2008 12:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sci - Jul. 19th, 2008 09:34 am (UTC) - Expand
dreamerwolf856
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
I agree, definatly get a contract. Maybe go through e-lance or guru.com, because they offer escrow services.
eski
Jul. 18th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
good suggestions! I didn't even know those sites existed, I've always written up my own contracts. But going through them would help legitimize it. =3

Edited at 2008-07-18 11:10 pm (UTC)
redrumwolf
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
Drop it.. or get a good contract.
Keep ur rights.
And dont let a Toy factory go ahead and make money off ur back either, or lose rights of the drawings.

Sounds waaaaaay to fishy I think.. >_>
eski
Jul. 18th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
contrac, for sure! Dreamer suggested going through a site like guru.com, which will help legitimize the contract if it's ever called into question. =3
snala
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:44 pm (UTC)
From what I am getting out of this, it appears that he is using your art, and wants to continue using your art and selling it to his company as his original work.

Is this correct?
If so, beware. Most people get thousands of dollars for such work directly with toy companies. Of course depending on how well the project is projected to sell.

Edited at 2008-07-18 10:44 pm (UTC)
eski
Jul. 18th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
I think it's more like he's using my art to sell his idea or his company's idea. If the idea sells to the toy company, he wants to hire me to make custom packaging artwork for the toys!
(no subject) - lastres0rt - Jul. 18th, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eski - Jul. 18th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - eski - Jul. 19th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC) - Expand
maui_dolphin
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
Ask for a contract first :/
eski
Jul. 18th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
*nods* will do!
lastres0rt
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
Either stay away or go directly to the toy company.

It sounds like he wants work-for-hire, or at least that's what it FEELS like, and you deserve, at minimum, a written contract that you can lawyer over. You deserve your rights protected.

Also, get an advance.
eski
Jul. 18th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
An advance sounds fabulous for sure. =3 No work until payment received, I've been ripped off before by not doing so.
sh_sareena
Jul. 18th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC)
Being subcontracted, unless its over a $600 job he does NOT need your tax info. I agree with the idea of an advance and I would honestly ask him to make you an offer, that way you know if he is serious. If its just someone trying to rip you off, they might not know what to offer... or you might get a really great offer and happily walk yourself to the bank!

Make sure and get that toy company info though!!
eski
Jul. 19th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC)
I'm not sure why he would need my tax info in the first place though. Isn't that for me to manage? I'm not at all comfortable with giving him that kind of information.

So far he hasn't given me the toy company name, but I updated the post with our current correspondance.
(no subject) - sh_sareena - Jul. 19th, 2008 02:15 am (UTC) - Expand
kuwaizair
Jul. 18th, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
i thought you needed differnt things to work in that industry.

I don't know what else to say, other than an agree ment on why his kid contacted you, from deviant art, that sounds off.

I would get a guru.com account. I think you need premium ones to get the best out of it.
rmoorcat
Jul. 19th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
...and, what country is this person in? most of the time things outside of the US you will need to use international lawyer languages, cause diferent countries have differing laws and protections...
eski
Jul. 19th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
The information on the bottom of each email says they are in Florida. =3
xipoid
Jul. 19th, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
If he is really a professional, have him supply you with his and the company's information and draw up a contract outlining at least these conditions:


1) In the event the company rejects his idea, clearly outline the ownership of copyright and distribution rights of the images you have created.

2) You will be paid X for the three images via some payment schedule regardless of the company's decision.

3) In the event the company accepts his idea, (whatever job he is offering to you).


Should he become resistant or if X is zero, I suggest avoiding all business as it is a sign of ulterior motives.
eski
Jul. 19th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
Good tips, thank you! I will be sure to include them in a contract if it comes to that point. =3
hybrid_xisha
Jul. 19th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
I'm with the others that this sounds kinda shady, or at least unprofessional. Other times I've seen this kind of request pop up, it all too often translates as: "You will get a small one-time fee, while I will reap long-term benefits off your work that you will lose all rights to."

If he gives you the toy company's info, you should contact them directly, say so-and-so contacted you for a project for them, and you need to know the exact details of this project before you can agree to anything. You could even go a step a further and volunteer to work directly with the company instead of through this middleman (you could do a little work for him initially, if you're guilt-wracked; just watch your rights). Chances are, if this company likes your designs enough to pay someone else for them, they'd be willing to pay you DIRECTLY for them.
eski
Jul. 19th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)
You will get a small one-time fee, while I will reap long-term benefits off your work that you will lose all rights to."
I'm worried about that myself, so in my latest email I mentioned something like it. Updated my post with our current emails. =3

And yeah, my experience with Middle Men is not a good one as well... =/
(no subject) - hybrid_xisha - Jul. 19th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
eski
Jul. 19th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
All valid points. The use of my artwork in particular upsets me, which I actually mentioned to him in my latest email to him. I also asked (again) for the name of the toy company to validate this project a little more.
(no subject) - frisket17 - Jul. 20th, 2008 04:46 am (UTC) - Expand
neongryphon
Jul. 19th, 2008 01:14 am (UTC)
As a sub-contractor, he does not need you to fill in any tax information. It is YOUR responsibility to do that, not his. I avoid anything that requires me to disclose personal financial information. He's not offering you employment, but a commission. As such he should pay you for your art at your prices, and I would charge additional fees for commercial reproduction rights. I don't work on roylaties as they WILL rip you off 90% of the time. If he does not agree by those terms and put good money down *up-front,* then he's a basement scammer and should be avoided.
eski
Jul. 19th, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
That was my understanding as well! That he doesn't need my tax information whatsoever, just valid proof that he hired me for the job and paid the amount he's reporting as a business expense (like the contract, the work, fincial receipts, etc).
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