Project Procedure Questions
1. What is the procedure for illustration and design projects?
2. How long will my project take? Will rush fees apply?
3. What should my budget be?
4. Why do I have to pay a deposit?
5. What are kill fees?
6. Why are there additional fees for revisions?
7. What are permissions and usage rights?
8. What’s the difference between final files and working files?
9. What is DPI?
10. What is the difference between print resolution and screen resolution?
11. What is bleed?
12. Papers, output, and folds, oh my!
13. Printers and other vendors
First, figure out your budget before initiating a project. This will help me determine what techniques and effects will work for your project and let me know whether I need to create “shortcuts” to meet your budget. Good design and illustration pricing can and should be flexible, and I always try to find the most efficient yet attractive solution to fit your budget.
Secondly, utline the project and determine a schedule (when you need it), final output requirements (what size and colors), and how the art is being produced (full-color press, print shop, home printer, or copier) .
Then, contact me to discuss your project. After talking, I will email you a quote with a price, deposit request, my schedule, and the turnaround you can expect. Generally, I provide a flat rate that is based on how much time I think it will take. In some cases (for very large or long-term projects), an estimate will be provided upfront, and hourly billing will be submitted periodically instead charging of a flat rate.
Once you have approved the quote and sent a deposit, work can begin!
I make sketches and give them to you for review, usually within a few days.
You approve the sketches or give revisions. If you like the sketches, great—I can start final art (“go to finals”). If you want some changes, that’s okay too—one round of revisions is standard and included. When necessary, I will make the round of revisions and resubmit revised sketches within a couple of days.
Upon approval of the sketches, an invoice MAY be submitted for half of the project quote depending on the size and length of project. (Additional rounds of revisions incur additional charges; see below.)
I work on final art. Turnaround time depends on the size and style of the project. (Rush jobs incur additional charges; see below.)
Final art is delivered to you or your production source—printer, silkscreen company, etc. The final art is provided as digital files if executed electronically. Traditional art may be delivered via actual physical art or digital scan, depending on your preference and technical requirements. (Usage and permissions vary by project; see below.)
The final invoice for the balance of the quote—minus deposit or previous billing, plus any additional charges for rush or extra revisions—is provided with the delivery of the final art. This invoice is due 10 business days after its submission. (Late fees and interest are applied to overdue invoices; see below.)
Payments can be received via check, cash, or Paypal. I must approve any Paypal payments, and Paypal-imposed fees ($0.30 + 2.9%) will be added to the invoice total; you are responsible for paying this convenience fee.
Work always is done as quickly and efficiently as possible. If a job is quoted as taking 12 to 24 hours, please don’t expect everything done by the next day. Beside work for other clients, I have errands, eating, and sleeping to do. (Ha ha.)
When you want something done very quickly, you’re asking for the focus to be taken off other clients and put on you, and that’s what a rush fee guarantees. A rush fee is a percentage of the total added on to compensate for quick, usually unreasonable, turnaround. If you have a tight deadline and need me to adjust my schedule to accommodate it, rush fees may apply. You always will be notified of the amount in advance and will be required to approve it before work is started.
Only you can know for sure, and it is entirely up to you to figure out. Most people who aren’t in this business are surprised by how how expensive it can be. Remember that you are paying not only for a creative service, but also a tangible product used to promote an idea or identity. For the most accurate and realistic information on the value of design and illustration services, you can look at The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.
Just as you are asking for my commitment of resources (materials, time, and effort), I ask that you provide a token payment as a placeholder on my time and good-faith gesture that you will pay when the project is complete.
Kill fees ensure partial compensation for my commitment of time when a project is terminated for reasons uncontrolled by me (business fails, project gets “killed”). Kill fees are customarily 50% of the original price and always will be noted on the quote.
It is an industry standard to include one round of revisions to refine a composition, idea, or text. Anything beyond that is billable. For instance, if you originally want a big cheeseburger illustration and sketches are provided, then decide you actually want a big egg-salad sandwich illustration, it’s the same as asking for a new project. Instead of closing the project and starting a new one, revision fees are applied. (However, if you ask for an egg-salad sandwich after a cheeseburger already has been completed, that is a new project.)
This section usually only applies to illustrations. Permissions and usage rights specify when, where, how many times, and by whom the art can be used before further compensation is necessary. For instance, you may get a quote for an illustration to be used on a sign. In a year, if you decide to use the same illustration on a billboard, you are obligated to make an additional compensation agreement with me because the original use no longer solely applies.
Project pricing is partially determined by distribution and usage, and there are options for buying exclusive full rights to art. Please provide as much information as possible upfront for a complete quote.
It is important to note that as the creator, I always have the right to show the work for self-promotion unless additional, significant compensation is provided—usually along with a legally binding confidentiality agreement or contract.
You are provided with final files at project completion. They are all you will need to produce your final product, but you cannot make changes to them (because it’s not technically possible). Working files are the files I use to make adjustments during revisions, etc.
I retain ownership of working files. When you buy a car, you get the assembled product; anything beyond the delivered car that needs adjustment requires a mechanic or technician. By that example, I provide you with a final assembled file, and I can make any future adjustments by using the working files. Arrangements can be made to transfer ownership of the working files to you for future use on your end.
Dots per inch (dpi) refers to the density of information within a file. The dpi determines the maximum physical size an image can be enlarged before it becomes pixelated (image loses clarity and looks like a mosiac). The higher the resolution, the better—so if you’re providing images for use in a project, please always provide the largest possible files. I can help you with this if it’s confusing.
Standard print resolution is 300dpi. That means a printer needs a 300dpi file to print an image without pixelization. Screen resolution is 72dpi, which means a computer screen needs a 72dpi file to make a good visual representation.
IMPORTANT: Screen resolution files (such as images on a website) have only 20% the image information they need to be printed. So something that appears postcard-size on a website would actually print as postage stamp-size. Remember this when trying to use files from digital cameras or internet images.
A file designed specifically for web (screen) use cannot be easily adapted for print use.
Bleed is a term used when color “bleeds” off the edges of a printed page. The art for such projects must be slightly larger than final product size (trim size).
IMPORTANT: Some output methods (like a home printer or copier) cannot provide bleed, since a margin is necessary.
Output (how art is printed and what it’s printed on) will greatly affect the cost. Fancy folds, intricate cuts, spot colors, or custom edging may affect your price, usually because of the producer of the final product. For instance, postcards with rounded corners might require the printer to create a “die” to cut the special, non-square shape. In the case of special finishing requests, various sources are consulted to determine accurate pricing and ultimately deliver the results you desire.
I select printers and other vendors based on their service, quality, and prices. I have no affiliate arrangements with any specific printers or service providers and do not profit through referrals. Any service provider I refer to you is recommended because of their history of quality work and ability to meet technical requirements and turnarounds.