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Working for a Percentage?

A friend of my husband's father is contacting me about making a image for a union tshirt. They're offering me 5% of each sale as payment.

This makes me uncomfortable since I have no idea how much they'll sell, what kind of payment I'll receive (paypal, check etc) and they're planning on selling the shirts for 30$, which I don't see as very successful.

My husband though, thinks I'm not seeing how much I could be making from this since there's thousands of people in a union.

Am I right for preferring a lump sum (I'd take 200$) over 5%?

Thanks for the advice!

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( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
If they're really so confident that they'll sell a ton of them, they shouldn't hesitate to give you a lump sum. If they don't want to give you a lump sum, well... says something about what they really think their chances of selling that many are, doesn't it?
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
Some people go for a combination lump sum and then a percentage royalty from sales.
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Apr. 14th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, that's what I was thinking too.

I'm not well versed in shirt making, and while I appreciate my husbands enthusiasm in trying to get me "work for my portfolio"

I don't think it's worth it to wait for 133.333 shirts to get sold
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Apr. 15th, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
What makes it worse is a lot of times those people KNOW that's not how the business works; they're just trying to prey off of inexperienced artists and/or students who don't know any better.
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(no subject) - sigilgoat - Apr. 15th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 15th, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
This, most definitely.
Apr. 15th, 2010 09:36 am (UTC)

If you are creating work that goes on something to be sold, you SHOULD charge both the creation AND the royalty for the use license.
Apr. 15th, 2010 10:26 am (UTC)
Or if the client buys you out of the image it's usually anywhere from 100-300% of the original price of the image.
Apr. 15th, 2010 10:53 am (UTC)
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC)
I'd go for a lump - it'll be a lot of shirts to cover it otherwise.

You can always kick yourself later ;)
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:36 pm (UTC)
I'd do a combination of both. I was contracted to do a few t-shirt designs with the following in mind:

$100 per image, + 1$ per shirt sold, or %5 of their net profits a month. (And a free copy of each shirt-design made for my portfolio)

I charged very little back then since it was an ex-friends company, and simple images, but the lump sum was a lot more worth it haha.

Go with your gut instinct, don't let anyone tell you what "side" you're not seeing.
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
This is good, if the father sends me an email, I'll offer that as an alternative!

I don't think my abilities are quite up to PROFESSIONAL SHIRTS DOT COM status, so 100-200$ would make me a happy camper
Apr. 15th, 2010 10:30 am (UTC)
As a rule of thumb, ask for 10-15% more than you're willing to do the job for. If the client won't take that and negotiates, it gives them the illusion they whittled you down on the price. If they take the inflated asking price, gravy for you.
Apr. 15th, 2010 12:34 pm (UTC)
That's a good idea, thank you! 99% of my work is furry commissions currently, sooo actual "design work" is still new to me
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
If it sold 1,000 shirts at $30 a pop you stand to make...$4500-ish.
I'd take a lump sum of $1500, and then an additional 10% on top of that that way you take in a little risk but are still secured a fair chance at making the full %15 as offered.

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Apr. 14th, 2010 11:40 pm (UTC)
I think in this case it's also lack of experience, since the job was first offered to our friend...who has no art skills whatsoever, heh!
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:54 pm (UTC)
In terms of math, they'd need to sell around 134 shirts for you to make 201 dollars.

My suggestion is this; if you go with the royalty model, as for 7% rather than 5%. The extra 2% means you'll be out of the red around the 96th shirt, which isn't a terribly great improvement, for sure, but you'll be able to make back more with less.

There's nothing wrong with asking for a lump sum for sure, but it seems to me that you stand to gain if the shirts sell well. Further, given this is an art business, you will eventually have to take a loss every once an awhile. As they say, fortune favors the bold. As I see it, unless you're desperately in need of money, you ought to go with the royalty rate method. If it falls through, you won't be at a total loss (You still get some money; where as if a commissioner were to stiff you, you get nothing at all), and if it's successful, you'll benefit more.

However, one word of advice: get this all in writing. The last thing you want to do is rely on a verbal contract; if you don't get paid you'll need something more concrete to base a lawsuit or criminal charges on.

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Apr. 15th, 2010 01:47 am (UTC)
No that does make sense! You don't take a percentage unless it goes over 200$! C:
Apr. 15th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)
Oh, this is somehting like i was thinking, if it were my conundrum I'd choose this ^_^
Apr. 15th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
Take the royalty but ask that they make it so that you get paid a percentage based on how many shirts they order up, not on how many they sell. Also ask that they make a minimum order of 150 shirts, especially if there are so many people in this union that the shirt will sell well. If they order up more shirts that is just another paycheque for you. Try and have your cake and eat it too, y'know?
Apr. 15th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
That's a good idea too! I'll talk to my bud about doing that. He's pretty excited about working with my husband and I more than making an extreme profit, so I'll bring this up to him c:
Apr. 15th, 2010 03:09 am (UTC)
This this THIS!

I have an uncle who works for the HVAC union in NY. I was approached by them at one point to do a shirt for their company picnic that they intended to sell. Was going to get a percentage of the sales from said shirt.

I did the work, designed the image, busted my arse coloring it.....and after sending it never heard anything back. Months later a VERY similar image (photoshopped photo, not actual hand drawn/colored art) was showing up for sale via the union. My net gain? Diddly squat. For a design I spent hours on, that was summarily ripped off and re-done. Poorly.

It's sad to say, but even family and friend of friends/etc. can sometimes screw you, even if they originally have the best of intentions. The bottom line is, if you want to be doing art for a living eventually, treat it as a business from the get-go. That includes friends and 'people you know'. Get it all in writing, and get your cash In Hand before doing ANY work. They couldn't go to a clothing store and take the shirts, promising to pay the store "Once we sell the finished screen printed shirts and re-coup the money", they should no more expect you to do work without being paid for your time.

*Pet peeve is people thinking Art is Not A Real Job, and does not deserve to be paid as any other profession is expected to be.*

Apr. 15th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
Yesss I will most DEFINITELY get a contract no matter what the final outcome is, thank youuu for reminding me!
Apr. 15th, 2010 10:33 am (UTC)
That happened to me but it was with a book cover for an e-publisher.
Apr. 16th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
Ohgod that sounds so awful and stressful. :C I'd probably wanna tear my hair out in rage!
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )


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