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Designing a character for a con?

I hope its okay to post this here. I really need some advice, since I am pretty stupid when it comes to these kinds of things.

I recently got this note:

And unless I'm reading it wrong (which might as well be, since I'm not a native English speaker) they are asking me to design a mascot for a convention (based on a written description they gave me) and use said design to make two badges.
Now, if I am designing a mascot, chances are the design will be reused for merchandise and other such stuff. I doubt the original two images would be used on merch, since they will be traditional media. Now, if my design is to be used to make money, should I charge more for designing the character than I usually do? Should they buy the rights to the design off me, or should I ask for royalties?

On a side note, I already gave them a price offer of ~$30, before I realized I might be dealing with something more than a regular commission. Would it still be okay for me to go back and ask for more, or am I stuck with $30 because thats what I said at first?

I am very new to this kind of stuff, since this is the first time anyone has wanted to commission me for something on a bit of a bigger scale (usually its just drawings of people's OCs or character designs for personal use) so I would like some advice as to what I should do. I don't want to end up getting screwed over, but I also don't want to end up scaring off the commissioner or making unreasonable demands.

EDIT: Here is my dA account so you can get a better feeling of my art and how much you think it would be worth: http://katarrhe.deviantart.com/gallery/
& also my old, abandoned account, which has a lot more of my work up: http://00x181-033-4-9953xx3.deviantart.com/gallery/
Artist's beware has moved!
Do NOT repost your old bewares. They are being archived.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
First off, coming up with the concept art of the character itself should warrant a higher charge, since you have no reference image to go on and may wind up having to make one for yourself if the character has complex markings.

You are not stuck at $30. Just be sure to let them know that they do not own the rights to the image and thus cannot legally use it anywhere. They can display your original badges, but that's it. If they clarify to say that they planned/wanted to use the images for some sort of advertisement or merchandise, tell them that the price will significantly increase, and go from there.

If you wind up scaring this person off, you're better off that way. People shouldn't go around thinking that they can pay $30 for an image and then reproduce it in whatever way they would like.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
Also, you may want to post to fulltimefurs (http://community.livejournal.com/fulltimefurs/) for advice.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
well one thing is them using the images (which I actually doubt, although it is possible. They did ask me for scans of the badges before I laminate them), other is them using the design. Although I suppose its actually a pretty similar situation.

But yeah, I'll see what more advice I can get before contacting the commissioner again. Will definitely post to that community, thanks for the heads-up. The price most definitely won't stay at $30, as I myself would feel really uncomfortable with that. & yeah, I agree, I guess it is better if they are scared off by a reasonably higher fee. I can do without that $30, even if its a considerable amount of money for me.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)
If they're using this for advertising a convention - using printed media, etc - *definitely* you need to charge more considering the variety and number of people who would be seeing it. I don't see a link to your DA so I can't comment on your work itself, but I'd say starting at $200 at the very least! D:
Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)
my dA is katarrhe.deviantart.com, but my previous account 00x181-033-4-9953xx3.deviantart has more of my work.

idk if I would charge that much, actually. I dunno, its kind of a shockingly big amount of money for me, as the biggest commission I ever had was about $50, and that was a huge ref sheet. D: I guess it all depends how big and profitable the convention will be, though. Hurrrrr thsi is confusing.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)
It really depends on *exactly* what they are looking for.

If they are looking for a mascot to be created, for badge purposes (ie an access badge/pass with the logo/mascot on it) and for advertisement, then you really, really should charge a much larger amount. Anything else is them taking advantage of you as an inexperienced no-name artist. Trust me on this. :|

Think of it this way, as my Illustration teacher told to me: One of her colleagues once sold a menu design for a small restaurant for $100, rights and all. This restaurant ended up being incredibly successful and within a few years they were using that menu design across the entire country. The restaurant? Outback Steakhouse. Is that colleague kicking themselves? Ohhh yeah.

You never know where something YOU design professionally for a company might end up. Don't sell your talents short and let them take advantage of you!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
Already replied at fulltimefurs so I'll say it again: charge more, and get a contract.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
If they are giving you a written description of the character then I don't see how this means you are designing it. Designing their mascot would mean coming up with the character yourself, and it's pretty unfair to charge a client more simply because they don't already have visual refs.

Now if they were wanting to use the IMAGE you created for merchandise then I'd suggest getting a contract made up regarding copyrights to the art. But if it's just for you to draw a couple of badges that will not be reproduced or profited from I don't see why you should charge more than something for a commissioner's personal use.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
But the written description is not a set one - they are more outlines for me to base the design on. The character hasn't been drawn before by anyone, as far as I know. Or maybe I am misunderstanding the concept of "written description". I haven't worked with those a lot before.

The following was given to me as a description:
"We're looking for a chibi badge and a full body badge of our dragon mascot, TNT. The idea behind him is that he's a small, lazy, and rather petulant little thing most of the time, but when angry or excited is capable of morphing into something big, scary, and hyperactive. He's dominantly black in color, but with electric blue eyes and markings on his scales. (black and electric blue are the con's colors) He also (in either form) has a pair of feathered wings of a similar pattern or color scheme. He has three toes on each foot, with a kind of thumb-esque toe further up the leg, similar to what cats have on his front legs. The front feet are a little more dexterous than the back, having longer fingers for grabbing or scratching. His belly is slightly more heavily armored than the rest of his body. He would have a longer snout (easier to frown with), and has a set of spines that run from the middle of his back to the tip of his tail. He may/may not have a crown of spines around his chin (depending on your artistic intuition) but his ears would be larger and a more prominent feature. (The inside of his mouth and ears would probably also have electric blue highlights). He would also have a small mane of prickly fur running down along his neck. And, because he is a flamboyant little thing, his wings would probably have some decorative feathers, just to show him off a bit.

Now, before you jump into this with roaring style, I want to let you know that all of the traits I listed above are just generalizations. I was listing them to help you get an idea of what kind of dragon he is. Thus, I fully trust your artistic genius to fill out/change whatever you think would be necessary. And, as soon as your Pay-pal information is available to me, I will happily pay you."

Also, they already agreed to me charging extra for designing the character.
I can see your point though. I'll see what other people say about this to get a better idea of what would be the right course of action here. I also do not yet know if they plan on using the images themselves or not, I'll need to get around to asking about that. They did ask for scans of the finished versions before they are laminated, so that could mean they do intend to use the images.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
I am not an artist, but when has that stopped anybody?
Given the vague, broad description of the character (with some specific features), this seems to be a design effort- if there aren't any visual guidelines like a style sheet, you are going to have to put together the physical characteristics to bring the personality elements to life. In addition, from the way the description is written I'd suspect that you'll be asked to do at least a couple redesigns to satisfy them, and you should be compensated for that as well.

You should ask them what they intend to do with the images, in terms of public use. A mascot is going to be used on promotional material for certain- otherwise, there's no point in having one. I would expect the badge designs will be used either for con staff or for general badges. Both of these warrant charging more. If they are planning on making shirts/trinkets with the art to sell at the con (as opposed to programs and attendee badges), then royalties are something to consider- that, or selling the rights for a fair bit more so they can do what they want without you having to keep after them. Since you list your location as Estonia, enforcement of a royalties would likely be a bit harder and more expensive than for someone in the US.

Beyond that, congratulations on catching their eye, and good luck!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
As others have said, get in writing exactly what they plan on using the images for. Many conventions commission a logo or 'mascot' for their letterhead, board business cards, etc, and possibly for use on their website and/or printed advertisement for the convention.

How much this potential free advertising is worth to you is a question only you can answer, but do make sure both you and the organization have in writing how the art may be used, and what reproduction rights they have.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
Others have already said a lot of what I would add (charge more, discuss printing rights etc) It sounds like they are very new at this.

You don't have to worry about sticking with the $30--$30 is what you quoted because that's what you charge for a badge, when they mentioned it was for the convention they were basically changing the verbal contract. That's like someone asking me for a badge and after I quote them for a badge they start to talk to me about a full background--something they aren't getting for badge price!

It might not be a terrible opportunity, but don't let yourself get taken =3 Design is worth something and undercharging ultimately hurts everyone in the biz.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC)
hey you!! good luck with this, i agree with all the advice here ;D <3
Jul. 22nd, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah first off clarify what they want - do they already have a mascot and just want badges that will go /on/ their mascot, do they have a mascot for you to ref and are going to want to make copies of your work for their show (basically, either sell them the copyright for a much higher fee OR charge for royalties), or are they wanting you to design the mascot itself?

If they are wanting to make extra copies of your work for advertising / t-shirts / etc then they have to clarify that. From that note I'm not really sure what they want.
Jul. 23rd, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
"I doubt the original two images would be used on merch, since they will be traditional media."

traditional stuff can be scanned and EASILY be used on posters,mugs,t-shirts,ect.one of the local festivals here often commissions water color artists for their t-shirt images...
Jul. 23rd, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
This. I've seen it happen to people on DeviantART countless times.
Jul. 23rd, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)
As others have said, you are within your rights to charge more for what they want. Also a contract will make sure they don't screw you over and out of earn $$.

factor in
1. your time taken to draw
2. ## of sketches you do up for them, even if they reject it, it's still work you have done FOR this project.
3. Materials you use

Also if they are going to be using this stuff on things like tees and badges and selling them you should factor the amount that they will be selling these items for too. Free advertisement is great and all, but out of say 100 people 10 may commission you.

Just be sure to not sell yourself short anywhere.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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