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Private Commissions

Hi artists_beware!

I'm coming in to ask how you some of you guys handle private commissions. Do you charge anything to keep a commission private?

I've been approached to keep a commission private, and I agreed to it because nothing in my TOS covers that. I'm a little bummed because full color pieces always tend to bring in a good number of potential customers. I'd like to add a clause in my TOS for private commissions for the future, but I don't know what to do with them, or what an acceptable fee for keeping a commission private is. (If charging one is acceptable at all.)

Edit: To be more clear, the person in question does not want me to post it to my gallery when I am done. I am not handing over my rights to them.

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( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 20th, 2010 08:14 am (UTC)
do you mean work-for-hire? that's where the person commissioning the piece owns the copyright and all the rights to that piece and can reproduce it if they want. People generally charge an order of magnitude more for this kind of sword, if your base price was $50, you would charge $500+ for work for hire

If you mean something else, then I have no idea
Jun. 20th, 2010 08:18 am (UTC)
No, I'm sorry for not being specific. It is a regular commission, but they do not want me to post it anywhere.
(no subject) - bladespark - Jun. 20th, 2010 09:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Jun. 20th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - Jun. 20th, 2010 02:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Jun. 20th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2010 08:15 am (UTC)
I've never charged extra for that. Mainly you are being contracted for a project, and then it is turned over to the person who contracted the work.

I treat it as intellectual property. Although the artist created the work, the owner is the owner.
Jun. 20th, 2010 08:18 am (UTC)
Only if it's work for hire. With normal commissions, the artist actually owns the piece and can make reproductions, sell prints and use it in their portfolio. The commissioner does not own the RIGHTS to the picture, just the piece itself. As I said, work for hire rates should start at several hundreds of dollars, not tens
(no subject) - kriscynical - Jun. 20th, 2010 09:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2010 08:21 am (UTC)
I generally listen when my customers ask. Some people DO charge to keep things private however, like a %5 percentage or something. It's just good business to keep it private when requested to.
Jun. 20th, 2010 08:25 am (UTC)
Oh, I would never dream of going against a client's wishes. Nor would I mind if it was something as small as a simple sketch. 5% sounds good. It's not some insane tag on top of a commission price.
(no subject) - saeto15 - Jun. 20th, 2010 09:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enveri - Jun. 20th, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - Jun. 20th, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2010 08:23 am (UTC)
I do typically charge for private ones, simply because it means I cannot upload the work I have done. It also means I can't have it as advertisement for further commissions, and to show I'm doing commission work in general.
Jun. 20th, 2010 08:33 am (UTC)
I wouldn't charge extra at all for a private commission, personally.
Jun. 20th, 2010 09:18 am (UTC)
I've done quite a few private commissions, and it may lose you business from outside sources, but it often gains you business from word-of-mouth. Personally I believe that as long as they ask me beforehand so I know what I'm getting into, there's nothing wrong with it. I wouldn't charge at all.
Jun. 20th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
This. :D

Someone posted below about a commissioner changing the terms after the commission has been agreed upon, and that... I'd have issues with, but as long as everything is up front... :)

Half of my business is from word of mouth. :)
Jun. 20th, 2010 09:26 am (UTC)
I was burned before when I was fresh out of college in a similar way. I was doing an elaborate piece for this lady with three figures in elaborate clothing with color. She waited until right before I was finished to tell me "oh by the way you can never post this anywhere forever because I said so". There has been a clause in my ToS about that ever since.

If a client wants me to keep the commission a secret until a certain date because it's a gift, that's absolutely no problem and it doesn't cost them anything. I have a clause in my ToS that specifically tells clients to inform me of such things, though. I once publicly worked on a job over LiveStream and the client flipped out on me for doing so even though it wasn't a gift and they never told me to keep it under wraps until completion. Another instance of live and learn revise your ToS.

If the client wants me to keep the commission private until the end of time, they'll have to buy the rights to it from me because I also have a ToS clause that states I reserve the right to use the image for self-promotional purposes "unless otherwise negotiated" = you pay me not to use it. Most of the commissions I do for individuals wouldn't interest anyone other than the client, but if someone asks to purchase a print of it I always contact the client and ask them if it's okay for me to sell a print of the piece. Technically I have the right to do so, but I ask because it's good form.

If a client wants to buy the rights to an image to the point of you completely handing over the copyright, it's called a buy-out and it can be anywhere from 100%-500% of the original cost of the piece. Usage rights can also be purchased for a certain amount of time (one year from date of final payment, etc.) if laid out in an official agreement to keep things simple if problems arise.

Re: your edit... if you cannot post the image publicly in order to promote yourself, you have handed over some of your rights to the image. A client can't tell you what you can and can't do with an image unless they pay you accordingly.

Edited to apologize for the novella. Sorry. :x

Edited at 2010-06-20 09:31 am (UTC)
Jun. 20th, 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
No, the novella is definitely appreciated! As what with bladespark said above, I never thought of it that way.
Jun. 20th, 2010 09:30 am (UTC)
I would never agree to this without being compensated. It's an unreasonable demand, especially when most of the time people aren't getting reasonable rates for their art in the first place. It shouldn't be something they can expect without buying the rights.

What you can do, if you do want to offer it, is have a contract stating how long the piece will be kept private. After x amount of time you can post it in your gallery, etc. But include a fee to make it worthwhile to yourself.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - saeto15 - Jun. 20th, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - kriscynical - Jun. 20th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2010 09:50 am (UTC)

I've never taken one but I think I'd significantly charge for that since the client is basically asking me to give up a right to the image.
Jun. 20th, 2010 09:57 am (UTC)
There are a number of different approaches for this topic, depending on your situation.

1) From a Business perspective:

You can offer to sell them full rights to the item for a fee. You'll need to have a written contract, as you're effectively signing over your copyright to the art to them.

Also, be careful about charging an additional fee to keep the work private. This could be construed as a verbal contract as you're implying that you are giving up your right of redistribution to the commissioner in exchange for the higher price. Don't charge more unless you have a clear agreement on this matter agreed to by both parties.

2) As a Courtesy: This is anectdata, so treat it appropriately as obviously I can't back this up with real names. Anyways, a friend of mine has commissioned a somewhat well known artist in the fandom several times over the course of the past 3 years, because the artist has agreed to keep the commissions private without charging anything extra. He's gotten several hundred dollars in sales that he otherwise wouldn't have had.. much more then he likely would have earned selling prints or putting the work in a portfolio.

And more importantly, the artist has a loyal repeat customer because of this. Now, the Artist could say "screw you" and post all the 'private' art as the agreement was courtesy and not contract. But if he did so, he would lose this repeat business and ruin a very good reputation with my friend.

The value of this simple courtesy far outweighs the losses incurred by not displaying the art publicly.
Jun. 20th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
It's different when the artist is popular. They're bound to be getting tons of commissions anyway, so keeping a few private isn't hurting their business at all. It's different for artists who are not as well-known, or who are just starting out, because that's one less piece to be used in advertising for more business.
(no subject) - delphinios - Jun. 20th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2010 12:08 pm (UTC)
Remember that if you make this commission private you are losing any potential requests for prints from other people. You're also losing any potential customers who see that particular work and choose you as their artist based on your work on that picture.

You can agree to not post it in public galleries like FA or dA if you want, but I wouldn't agree to not ever putting it online at all. You have absolutely every right to put it in your portfolio etc, and if they don't want you to do even that then they need to buy the rights to the image.

My 2 cents!
Jun. 20th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
I charge ~5$ extra to do that mostly. Or, I've asked why they want to keep it private.

For some its the subject matter that they're embarassed of, or they're worried about it getting out.

I have one regular customer that's fine with me using any parts of the image that don't include his character. I either block it out, or crop it for icons and whatnot.
Jun. 20th, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
Personally, I ask my clients to fill out a questionnaire to get on my waiting list which describes what they want, what kind of shipping, what kind of payment, and includes the question "Do you give me permission to post this image in my gallery as an example".

So far, only one person has checked "No" in that box. If it becomes more of a trend I will revise that in some way, probably adding a fee. This question is only there out of courtesy. I know I don't have to ask for permission, I just do because I feel it's respectful. Plus most of my commissioners are not versed in the art world and I feel like it's respectful to let them know I'm going to post it.

However the way I've settled this it means I cannot get surprised by a customer deciding so at the last minute. So I know whether the client wants to stay private or not BEFORE I start on the work. Which means things can be discussed if I feel something is too big to hide even before any work is done.
Jun. 20th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
I would charge double.
Jun. 20th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
I've never been asked to keep anything private, but if I was, I'd definitely require some sort of compensation, although I suppose I could do it for free if it was a sketch or something. I spend a lot of time on my artwork, and I'm currently building my portfolio and posting my work to multiple sites in an effort to get more exposure, so it's a pretty big deal for me to not be able to post something :\
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