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Question about charging for commercial work

Greetings. I've watched this comm for ages, never posted anything before.

This isn't a warning, more of a general question regarding doing graphic designs for a professional company. I skimmed through the tags, but couldn't find a post describing a similar situation, although I know there have been discussions on the subject here before.

I was recently contacted by someone on DeviantArt who is looking for artists to design a logo and a mascot for their company. Here is the description they referred me to:

"If your art is accepted, you could be famous World Wide!!

I need branding for my company which competes in the marketplace with Chiquita bananas - here's what I need for starters:

1) A 3 color (spot color - not process) vector logo similar to this: [link] but with a twist: instead of an oval, we're gonna use a vertical "rectangle" with rounded corners (radius corners). Here are the 3 colors we will be using: #3c75cc and #59b03d and #f8e36c and the boxes will be white - so we actually have 4 colors to work with.

2) If I like your style, there will be t shirts and other cool stuff.

3) We will need a Mascot too! Something cool like this guy: [link]

Name of the company is PanaPlatano - so work it into your draft rendering, ok?

We don't want anything too fantasy or cute. Think Chiquita, Fritos, Cheetos, Doritos, etc..
This product is going National and International - this could be your opportunity to be WORLD FAMOUS!!

I will need all graphics in vectors and preferably in .ai format (illustrator).

I will make payment(s) via Paypal. 50% when I approve initial renders (you may add watermark) and 50% upon delivery.

I have allocated $50 to the logo and $50 to the mascot. For a talented person, this should be a snap!

I expect maximum 3 render examples until we get the graphic to my liking.

Then, if I like what I see, I will give you the entire project: Logo, mascot, t shirts, etc..

I need this done asap...

Submit your renders"

Now, I know similar offers have been spotlighted here before and there are definitely some things I'm wary about. Especially the familiar "we can't pay you much, but it'll make you famous!" pitch. They also seem to be expecting samples from every artist they're considering and then take their pick, which could mean they'll only be paying the one artist they choose while getting lots of free designs.

The prices they're quoting sound very low to me ($50 for the logo and $50 for a company mascot, both of which are supposedly going to be used nationally and internationally for a company hoping to compete with a major brand). Several others have pointed this out and, since their offer already sounded a little fishy from the start, I told the person that I would be asking more for the task and that he'd probably have a hard time finding anyone to do the job for the price he's suggesting. I expected that to be the end of it, but he contacted me again asking me to name my fee. He's since replied to some of the other commenters in the original thread, seemingly agreeing to pay more if their work meets his demands.

I'm still not entirely trusting of his intentions, as he still seems to be expecting art before payment. But I'm willing to negotiate with him and see if he will agree to my terms. A good place to start would, of course, be naming my price.

SO, here's my question: how much should one charge for a commercial logo or mascot design that is intended for international business use?

Now, I should state that I don't have a graphic design degree, I'm an amateur artist. While I could use the money, I also don't want to be duped into doing something for peanuts. I doubt this guy is worth taking seriously, but for future reference it'd be nice to hear people's thoughts on this. I tried doing a little research for a good pricing policy, but found a lot of varied opinions. Some people felt it depends on how good an artist you are (which I don't buy), some say $50 sounds reasonable while others warn that anything below $200 for a commercial logo is selling yourself short.
I should perhaps also mention that I live in Europe whereas this person (according to their profile) lives in the US. That always makes me a little wary when it comes to signing contracts, because my chances of suing, should anything go wrong, are close to nil. They could just take my work and disappear and I would have no way of hunting them down.

(Since this isn't really a warning, I refrained from posting the person's username. If people think it sounds fishy enough that they'd rather avoid this person, the mods can let me know and I can post the username and link to the original thread.)

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( 50 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 14th, 2010 12:16 pm (UTC)
Considering what most companies get for a logo (we're talking 10,000s not 50), I really feel that you should politely pass on this.

There are entire design companies that make their living off of this.

This whole thing just doesn't sit well with me at all. If it is on the up and up, then you are being ripped off in terms of monies offered. You get no credit for a logo or very little. A shining example that I can think of is the Captain Morgan Pirate that Don Maitz did for Captain Morgan's Rum. Don was well paid for it and it has become an iconic image. Don can't use that image in his own work and sell it. Now, try to find Don's name attached to the image. Not on the bottle. Not on the merchandising that the company makes quite a bit of Money on. I knew but then I have known Don and Janny for years and I recognized the style. Your average Joe isn't going to know who created the logo.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 14th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
Out of the design industry? What happened? Not financially stable? Dangerous? Evil clients? I'd love to know more considering I intend to stay in the art/design industry.
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(no subject) - schwarzdrache - Apr. 14th, 2010 12:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - schwarzdrache - Apr. 14th, 2010 12:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - schwarzdrache - Apr. 14th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mukichan - Apr. 14th, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 14th, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)

Logos for 50 bucks my ass. I agree muchly with amarafox here even though I don't have much work experience in the field. Gragh.
Apr. 14th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
Eurgh, my Illustration lecturer would have a fit if he saw this. That guy is taking the piss, and the sad thing is, he will find someone to do it at that price.

You are worth a LOT more, believe me.
Apr. 14th, 2010 12:52 pm (UTC)
What amarafox said. I also worked (and still do now and then) in graphic design, though for small local businesses.

I would have disregarded the note at the first sentence. Promises of fame only can come from someone that doesn't have the resources to compensate you properly - or doesn't think your would-be contribution are worth any real investment in the first place.

I can't imagine this person being anything good - just fishing for inexperienced artists to do the concept work. I wouldn't be surprised if they only paid you the %50 for the initial "renders" and you later saw your concept used without you.

They want dirt cheap labor for highly skilled work and MASSIVE licensing rights - they'll probably find it in the mass of uninformed artists there are on DA.
Apr. 14th, 2010 12:55 pm (UTC)
* worked in graphic design, though not for as long as Amarafox! Just two. I'm still learning so much. :)
Apr. 14th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't touch it with a 10 pole, even if I was a hobby artist! The reasons-

Looks like he either has no idea how the industry works/costs or he's after desperate artists to exploit.

He wants a rip of an existing copyrighted piece of art.

There's no mention of copyright here, it seems assume that you'd had it over for a measly $50, with a worldwide usage and no fixed time period.

There's no mention of moral rights, he doesn't have to credit you as an artist and can what he wants with the artwork.

He wants free art, he doesn't want to pay for a variety of designs to be made, he wants to go straight to the picking and only pay for that.
(btw, good rule of thumb, the only time you should ever do free speculative work is if it's part of the interview for a position in an art company)

He's paying by paypal! All my professional clients have business bank accounts and pay me via bacs/bill payment to my business account. I would not expect paypal unless there's a very god reason for it. Also no mention who will be paying the payal fees.

No no no!
Apr. 14th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, like already mentioned, I'd politely pass too.
To me, even the fact that they contacted you/they are in DA smells fishy to me, and that they just want to get cheap art from inexperienced artists.

And that they would be planning to dump more work on you if they like your designs, which means they'd probably squeeze even their website layout out from you.
There's more experienced people here to give good quotes on prices, but I'd say that get a proper contract or at least demand very clear definitions on what's this about and how much work there would be in you decide to go with this.
Apr. 14th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
I did actually see the person already replying to some of the other commenters in his thread saying that he also needs layouts....so yeah, sounds about right.
Apr. 14th, 2010 02:05 pm (UTC)
Pass! I've been working in the field since 1992 and I smell a rip-off. Just pass on it.

Sound like this person just wants someone cheap to rip off already established designs and mascots. I guarantee you the designers of Chiquita Banana and Chester Cheetah did not answer an inquiry like this.

The first line alone is ridiculous: "If your art is accepted, you could be famous World Wide!!"

Ooooookay. How would it make YOU* famous? Many people would recognize Chester Cheetah and the Chiquita Banana Logo and Mascot - but how many people can name the artist(s) who designed them? If THEY are not famous, how would designing a cheap knock-off make YOU world famous? (Sure, you could use it in your portfolio, but really, "famous World Wide!!"?!?!? Come ON.)

*not meaning YOU specifically, OP, just the artist in general.
Apr. 14th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
On a similar note...
Kind of related, but a question that's been running in my mind:

What kind of fee structure is warranted by someone looking for commercial work (use in a video game, commercial product) but they are just starting, not sure what the product will be worth, or don't know if the product will succeed or not?

I know I am facing a dilemma like that, and while I would love to pay thousands of dollars - the money isn't there to do it. It's not that I believe the end product isn't worth it, it's just I don't have the money at start-up to put the ink to the check.

I don't mean to make it sound like I am defending scum, just trying to figure out how not to -sound- like scum when I get to the point of finding talent myself. :)
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
Re: On a similar note...
Most professionals will charge a flat hourly fee, then calculate how many hours needed for the project then do a quote based on that. Usually they will ask the dreaded question "What is your budget?" and aim for something a little less than that, or vanish without a trace.

As an illustration graduate I'm told to go for £20/hour as a start rate, then up it according to my porfolio experience and client base. So - depends on the artist, really. Non-graduates will charge less, and hobby illustrators often even less than that (as they often have non-illustrative jobs to support themselves mostly).

Does that help? :)
Re: On a similar note... - epiceternity - Apr. 14th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: On a similar note... - findmealone - Apr. 14th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: On a similar note... - findmealone - Apr. 14th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: On a similar note... - lilenth - Apr. 14th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: On a similar note... - jesskat - Apr. 14th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: On a similar note... - cissa - Apr. 18th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
I would pass.
You'll find a lot of things like this on public art sites like DA, Art Wanted, ect... Its a company looking for work cheap. What some places do is they'll collect all the "sketches" done by young artists then take them to a real designer, or have someone there make a logo based on them. A lot of times after you have put in the effort they will turn around and go, "Sorry, we went with someone else.. No money for you!"

Your portfolio should suffice as examples of your work. You do not make sketches / proofs to obtain a job- You are hired and the sketching is part of the PAID process. If he wants to hire you he will have to pay a deposit for your time.

Please also consider the amount of research and work and the programs needed to construct a logo. 50$ = 10$ an hour for 5 solid hours of work. Depending on where you live you can obtain a shit-job and make 10$ an hour. For an experienced graphic designer working for a firm, a logo could be pumped out in 5-10 hours (and they are usually busting their ass, showing the logo in meetings, obtaining feedback, doing a back-and-forth discussion with their client). But I guarantee you they are making far more than 10 clams an hour on it.
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
Re: I would pass.
Seconded this. Well said.
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Darn it, this is totally OT but: I love your Rincewind stuff. My friend houndartemis showed it to me! You're ace with expressions.

Uh. Sorry for the random fangirling. Back to your reguarly scheduled advice.
Apr. 14th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
Personally, I feel that you should charge at least $100 for the logo, plus a licensing fee that will give them the license to use your art for a certain amount of years. I suggest writing up a contract, a copy for yourself and a copy for him, print it out, mail it to him certified, have him sign the contract agreeing to the licensing, and have him mail it back certified. (I say certified, cause I feel it's safer for touchy stuff like contracts. I think Tracking would be safe-ish too, but I dunno.)

I was told by a friend who's studying law that if I were hired to do logos that I should charge licensing fees of (on average) 10 times the "base price" divided by the number of hours spent on the logo... But I'm not even sure if the math for that is even right for artists. My math skills are growing thin to try and figure it all out.
Apr. 14th, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)

I'd pass on it, dA is unfortunately rife with rip off jobs like this which are only encouraged by the fact that the deviantart admins frequently assist such rip offs to screw the dA populace which gives a false impression that such rip offs are legit.
Apr. 14th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
i've reported several people as scammers and the mods don't want anything to do with it. they keep telling me it's not their business, out of their hands, etc etc. they allow this bullshit to continue KNOWING it's going on. hasn't anyone ever bloody heard of blocking ISP addresses when banning? for god's sake...
(no subject) - lilenth - Apr. 14th, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 14th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
Welcome to revision hell! I would never do this for this price and without a contract. also the cotnract has to say he's not reselling it, if I wanted ot make some $$$ and the fandomw as more dependable I would love to do 50.00 comissions to resell for logos to real companies for serious money. This guy isn't Kosher.
Apr. 14th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
his username on Deviantart is DeRangedGraphiArtist, and I do want to call him out because he is a scammer and is verbally abusive.

I found said thread under the Job Offers forums, and found him being exceedingly rude to another member (while representing a company?), so I stepped in and called him out on it in a non-insulting manner. I have worked in customer service for almost 7 years and I was completely unimpressed with his behavior.

screenshot of thread comment part one and part two - my comment

Came back a few hours later and found a note in my inbox. He has the audacity to call me no talent, ignorant, and an artist wannabe, then goes on to completely tear me down for no called-for reason whatsoever.

screenshot of note - cropped to protect my inbox list.

I'm so angry right now I could spit venom. For your sake, don't work with this jerkoff.

(should i give him his own post for this behavior, even tho I haven't had the "pleasure" of working with him?)
Apr. 14th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
Wow, I knew he was bad news from the start, but I was willing to think maybe he was just ignorant of the process of hiring artists. Now I doubt whether he he even has a company, surely no-one with their own business could be acting that unprofessional on a public forum? I guess that's the allure of internet anonymity. *shrugs*

I wouldn't even get angry at him, he's clearly not worth it. His 'insults' sound like something you would expect from a twelve-year-old. The real reason I posted this here in the first place was to get opinions on pricing policy for future reference. I was planning on avoiding him anyway and hearing everybody else's thoughts has only strengthened my conviction.
Re: AVOID THIS GUY - haricotvert - Apr. 15th, 2010 12:05 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - haricotvert - Apr. 15th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kerstin_orion - Apr. 15th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - haricotvert - Apr. 15th, 2010 06:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: AVOID THIS GUY - lilenth - Apr. 14th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: AVOID THIS GUY - haricotvert - Apr. 15th, 2010 12:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: AVOID THIS GUY - lilenth - Apr. 15th, 2010 07:08 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: AVOID THIS GUY - haricotvert - Apr. 15th, 2010 08:05 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: AVOID THIS GUY - lilenth - Apr. 15th, 2010 08:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: AVOID THIS GUY - haricotvert - Apr. 15th, 2010 08:21 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: AVOID THIS GUY - lilenth - Apr. 15th, 2010 08:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: AVOID THIS GUY - haricotvert - Apr. 15th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
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