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Old 07-18-2006, 01:33 AM   #1
JoMaC2k
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Artist Pay Options

Just as a for instance say I was going to pay you, an artist, to do some pages for me. remember this is going to be a low print run and most likely will not be solicited through Diamond, instead done as POD and sold through conventions/web site. There are three options I'm possibly looking at.

1. a flat rate, say (low paying project) $10 a page 25% up front, 50% after pencils completed. 25% after inks finalized, ready for print or upon printing.

2. a lower flat rate (example $5 a page) but a portion of the profits. (after printing, shipping, advertising, business costs, etc.) Say 20% of any true profits.

3. a lower flat rate (again $5) but a percentage of the cover. Say for each copy over 250 that is sold you will get 5% of the cover. Say I sell 750 copies at $3 a piece, you would 500*3=1500*.05=$75 but if I sell 1000 copies the artist makes more money than he would with the flat page rate.

Now the best would probably be the best for the artist, because he just has to get paid and has no further commitment to the project after he's done.

The second is probably the worst for everybody because there's very little chance of pulling off profits from a small run book.

The third would probably the best if the artist believed in the project or you wanted the artist to aid in promoting the book, because while it pays a lower rate, it has a higher chance of reward.

Have any artists worked with either of the second 2 rates. How has it worked for you? or would artists take this kind of rate, or just turn it down?

Just noodling some ideas.
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Old 07-18-2006, 01:49 AM   #2
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Oh and all of these are plus material costs. so Artboards, pencils, inks, and nibs are all paid for as well, within reason.
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Old 07-18-2006, 04:36 AM   #3
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Well you'd likely be dealing with separate artists for pencilling and then colouring... so that first one doesn't work

And the third one doesn't really work.... you have to factor in the cost of the printing, the distributor's cut of the cover price, the retailer's cut of the cover price, and see what you had left over.

I like the fact that you cover your artists materials cost though.
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:11 AM   #4
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What?

Artists get paid to do work?
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:59 AM   #5
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Geez, you don't want to "nickel and dime" the artist here. We're talking $10 a page, and you want to break it up $2.50 here, $5.00 here.... that's kind of ridiculous.
If you're paying someone a lot more, then I can see you possibly offering these different types of scenerios. But for such a low page rate, just keep it simple. Finish a page, pay the artist.
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Old 07-18-2006, 08:35 AM   #6
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My only advice is not to pay anything upfront, when it's work-for-hire you should expect to see the finished work before paying anything. Paying as you go is risky too...but it helps keep the artists interested.
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Old 07-18-2006, 08:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGranger
My only advice is not to pay anything upfront, when it's work-for-hire you should expect to see the finished work before paying anything. Paying as you go is risky too...but it helps keep the artists interested.

I'll disagree with that on principle only. It IS a good way to work, however you will find better and more reliable talent if you offer a portion upfront, and the remainder upon completion. When you're not paying anything at all until completion, you're going to get artists who flake out on you. If you pay after each page, that's not really making an artist commit to your project either. Plenty of times people will do 10 pages, and then leave you hanging because something better came along, or school is back in session or whatever.

You also need to be prepared for the reality that you get what you pay for. The chances that you're going to find an artist, or even a couple of people, to work for a page rate that low, and then expect to sell 750-1000 copies of your book without going through Diamond (even with online sales and at conventions) well.....those chances are VERY slim my friend.

If it's a story you really believe in, take a slower approach. Pay more per page for BETTER work, and build your book slowly. Or save up enough to pay for an entire book, done by a reliable artist who you can afford to pay a good page rate to. The world doesn't need more comics, it needs better ones.
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Old 07-18-2006, 08:49 AM   #8
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Yeah, when I'm dealing with low page rates (i.e. $30 and under), as good faith I will pay 1/2 up front and the rest upon completion. But I only work with folks I have etablished a relationship with, and have some type of proven professionalism behind them.

I try not to deal in percentages because it's really an insult on the small level we are working at. And I like to pay outright so that all the of the licensing potential stays with me. That's my trade off, I'm doing my work for free and putting out the money for the project to see the light of day.

I have also done an incentive type thing where I pay the artist a flat, but low page rate so that they are guarenteed some money. They keep the art work to sell at cons, and I pay them a "bonus" if you will, as the book reaches certain milestones. Like $100 if it gets picked up by Diamond, $200 if it sells X-number of copies, $100 for each foreign language it gets reprinted in. Stuff like that. But that only works if you've already proven your past products have hit those marks.

Nice job trying to think outside the box though, and actually get some money into the artist's hands.

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Old 07-18-2006, 09:30 AM   #9
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I personally think it's bad business not to pay something up front. Call it a "good faith" deposit. If I'm doing work for someone and they aren't willing to toss me a small percentage of an entire project before we start, it tells me that the person is not serious about the project and most likely will not pay. Same goes for writers, designers etc... I also don't like when people aren't willing to sign contracts. They protect all of us and bind an agreement. If you agree, sign on the dotted line.

Like T.J., I also only deal with people I know, have seen their work or are highly recommended by another individual. I know what their work looks like already and I don't need to hold back money to know that they will do their job correctly.
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmycakes
I personally think it's bad business not to pay something up front. Call it a "good faith" deposit. If I'm doing work for someone and they aren't willing to toss me a small percentage of an entire project before we start, it tells me that the person is not serious about the project and most likely will not pay. Same goes for writers, designers etc... I also don't like when people aren't willing to sign contracts. They protect all of us and bind an agreement. If you agree, sign on the dotted line.

Like T.J., I also only deal with people I know, have seen their work or are highly recommended by another individual. I know what their work looks like already and I don't need to hold back money to know that they will do their job correctly.
I donít know, if youíre putting together good books with a good team thereís generally an understanding that moneyís not even really discussed until the plan is in place. Who knows whatíll happen between the time you start assembling folks and the time you start actually making money on the book. It could be a sales flop but a critical success, which has a certain non-monetary value to it, or it could end up at a large publisher and get a high five-figure advance plus royalties and youíre the schmuck that paid your artist ten-dollars a page (not calling you a schmuck, just saying that if someoneís making bank off the book and the artist getís .05% of that, itís pretty schmucky).

I guess if itís put out there as straight-up work for hire thatís a different story, a little bit, in that some advance should be guaranteed, but Iíd still hold off until I know what the deal is.

Of course, the original post is talking POD, which makes this whole point moot. But if youíre printing POD you might as well get the free-est artist you can because youíre not going to be making any kind of profit. Comics is passion and business, but it shouldnít be a money-pit.
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:37 PM   #11
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I was solely using these as example numbers. not exacts. But I will be doing a project somewhere in the next month that I want to be able to pay an artist(s) for.
I probably won't be able to pay more than $20 a page.
but I want artists who will put some dedication into the project and are looking to producing something that will help them move forward. Also something they'll work towards promoting.
I've had too many artists that say they will work on a project only to disappear or I've worked on projects that never see print because somebody just gives up. That's why I was considering a back end deal, because it lowers my initial expense and rewards seeing the project all the way through.

And I want to make sure there's a financial agreement up front that spells everything out, so if it's popular there's no arguements, if it's unpopular, there's no problems.

and just because POD is the initial print run, doesn't mean it can't be picked up and grow into something bigger.
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmycakes
I personally think it's bad business not to pay something up front. Call it a "good faith" deposit.
The problem is that things happen. Even pros have car accidents, family issues, or die. At the low margins that comics are made, one bad turn can cost you a few hundred dollars. I had two artists drop out two years ago, one was in an accident & another from Katrina. If I'd paid them 20% upfront then I would have been out $600+ with nothing to show. I cannot afford to do that. I have since had other artists (who I consider pros) drop out, even after finishing 90% of a book. I wouldn't pay anyone else an upfront % for doing other types of work, I'm not sure I see artists any differently.

But I do understand the catch 22, and usually I try to work with an artist. For some the money is not a problem and they are fine waiting until it's done. Others I work out a payment plan as pages are done. I think both the artists and the creator/publisher has to come to an arrangement that will work for them in their particular setup. Everyone is different and if you aren't happy with the contract given, definitely don't take it.
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:49 PM   #13
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As an Artist I really prefer a flat rate no backend or % after the fact. I've yet to see any real payoff, and would have MUCH rather done work for the few extra bucks I may have made on the backend.
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Old 07-18-2006, 04:42 PM   #14
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There's certainly a catch 22. You can take care of a lot of that in the contract. Paying by the page is a good idea. When I suggested a deposit, I'm not saying it has to be anything higher than $20. But I think something should change hands to get the ball rolling.

As far as a tiny book making it huge and the pubisher screwing over the small time arists: you can read T.J.'s post, cause that's how we opporate. Shoud one of our books make it huge we offered a percentage for down the line and the artists were paid for hire. We were born with that little nagging man in our head. If we made it big and someone helped us, you betcha we'd come back and help them any way we can. That's just how we opporate.

Unfortunatly there are a lot of "schmucks" out there and we all have to look out for them. The best thing we all can do is make sure people sign contracts (which in theory mean nothing now adays) and just try and make good books.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGranger
The problem is that things happen. Even pros have car accidents, family issues, or die. At the low margins that comics are made, one bad turn can cost you a few hundred dollars. I had two artists drop out two years ago, one was in an accident & another from Katrina. If I'd paid them 20% upfront then I would have been out $600+ with nothing to show. I cannot afford to do that. I have since had other artists (who I consider pros) drop out, even after finishing 90% of a book. I wouldn't pay anyone else an upfront % for doing other types of work, I'm not sure I see artists any differently.

But I do understand the catch 22, and usually I try to work with an artist. For some the money is not a problem and they are fine waiting until it's done. Others I work out a payment plan as pages are done. I think both the artists and the creator/publisher has to come to an arrangement that will work for them in their particular setup. Everyone is different and if you aren't happy with the contract given, definitely don't take it.
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Old 07-18-2006, 05:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmycakes
There's certainly a catch 22. You can take care of a lot of that in the contract.
Except that it's mighty difficult trying to get back the $$ when goods aren't delivered. When you have to sue someone it's just not pretty, and it's come down to a no-win situation for all sides. I've got a guy who owes me $5k on undeliverables...someone I trusted and had delivered before. So how long do you wait until you just say he won't pay and take him to court? It's tough. A contract is fine but you've still got to sue. That's why I structure my contracts the way I do. I try to protect us both as best as I can. If I lose money on one book it could affect other books in the line, so it's basically protecting everyone involved.

I think you're probably okay with a small exchange, $20 isn't much to lose. But if you pay Western Union (a must for some countries) then the fees are high on small amounts. You end up paying $25 plus any fees your card charges on top of that. For one it's fine, but it's still 25% extra on each $20...that's $250 in extra fees for each $1000 spend. It adds up. Still...it can be factored in to the contract.

One thing I do to help even the playing field is only ask for low-res copies of the entire book, but one hi-res tiff (just in case they don't listen to the print requirements...that happens a lot with artists new to comics). That way they know I'm not going to try and cut & run with the art. At some point we've got to trust each other and there's always some risk when you cannot just knock on someone's door.

Cover your bases, be fair, and be professional. That's about all you can do. With everything you have to think about in the comic biz, it's amazing we don't have more going under. It's definitely a labor of love.

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