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Artwork release

Discussion in 'General Chit-Chat' started by CanuckSigns, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    Nov 11, 2008
    Hi All,

    Looking for some advise on how to handle a situation that comes up every once and a while. How do you handle clients who want their artwork files?

    We have a client we print labels for, she is always forgetting to order them untill the day she needs them, last friday she emailed to have some printed that she wanted to pick up that day so she could apply them over the weekend. we told her we couldn't do that as the machine was tied up all day, but I can have them for her early this week. She asked if she could have the files so she could "print some at home" to get her through the weekend. I told her it's our policy not to release production files.

    This morning I got an ALL CAPS email from her about how she can't believe I won't send her the files, she paid for them (I charge her 3 hours design time to create the files 3 years ago) how all the other shops have sent her files when asked etc..

    My question is what is a good way of dealing with this? it doesn't come up often, but whenever it does we always come out looking like the bad guy no matter what, so either we give her the files and most likely never see her again, or we stand our ground and also likely never see her again.

    If we charge an artwork release fee to every client who wants some decals made or something we would never get the jobs, people don't ever think about the future and what they might need.

  2. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    It's an old topic that's been beat to death and you'll get a multitude of conflicting opinions. The place to start is with the original job contract, spell out your policy, whatever you want it to be.
    Then you have to decide on a case by case basis how you want to handle it..
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  3. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

    Sep 27, 2010
    This actually comes up quite a bit in my world. If they don't expect files to be free (which most do), they expect to get the production files if it's itemized.

    I treat my digitizing customers differently then actual production customers. Due to the fact that one customer commissions me to create a final product, the other commissions me to produce something that allows them to create the final product. Two different customer bases. I don't give all my inputs of production to my finished goods customers that happen to be left over from their project.

    I actually use different files for each of those customers as well. Digitizing customers get a more universal file format. When I'm using files to produce finished goods, I'm using more unique files (unique to my specific machines) that have codes built into to them that not all other machines recognize that aid in the quality of what I produce. Sure, I can send them their production files, but they would have to find someone that has same brand machine, with the same abilities as mine. Not always easy.

    I treat them as two different customers. But as Bill mentioned, this should be spelled out in a contract.

    If you do offer to send out files, no matter what the reason is for customers asking for them, don't be passive aggressive and subtly alter the files, so the quality isn't quite the same. That is also something that I see in my world quite a bit and I've read people on here doing that.
  4. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    As mentioned, there are so many ways to handle this, but I believe you answered your own question in your OP.

    They belong to her and you never gave them to her ??

    • Agree Agree x 4
  5. Marlene

    Marlene Major Contributor

    Jun 8, 2004
    In your original quote for the design work did you state clearly that the design files outside production allowed and that the ownership of the art files was you, not her? If not she paid for the files, so give them to her.
  6. d fleming

    d fleming Very Active Member

    Nov 28, 2007
    Middleburg, Florida
    I tell them you are paying for my time, skill and equipment to create the files for production in my shop but I would be happy to send them to you. Then I send them the CDL file. No Signlab, no opening the file. Now if they are nice about it, I provide them what they need and wish them well.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. 2B

    2B Very Active Member

    May 5, 2011
    answers are going to all over the place.
    • Was the original scope of the project for PRODUCT or DESIGN?
      • if design, then there should a contract that was signed and paid for (design time + contract) releasing the copyrights to the end user.
      • If a product, then the LAYOUT "design" time was used for the product and the copyrights are retained by you.
    • Was there notification given that the files belong to you?
      • EXAMPLE: All artwork, designs, layouts and/or concepts created are the property of XXXXXXXXXXXX until purchased by the customer & released for usage
    If they are a PAIN, it is easier to fire them instead of putting up with them.
    you could send her a low res JPG, she sees how bad it is when she does it and comes back to you and/or plans ahead for her next order.

    However, At this point, there are so many shops that either don't know, choose to ignore or don't care they will be happy to recreate this design for her at little cost. look at Fivr & Upwork
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Solventinkjet

    Solventinkjet DIY Printer Fixing Guide

    Aug 2, 2011
    Denver, CO
    I think if you specifically charged them for the design, they should get the design. If not, what were they paying for? The way I see it, you have a design product and a production product and they are mutually exclusive. It's one thing to sell a banner that happens to have design time built into the price and not want to release the artwork so someone can get a cheap logo out of you. It's completely different when you specifically charge for the design.
  9. fresh

    fresh Very Active Member

    May 16, 2011
    if i have a line item charge for design, then i give them the file... a pdf & jpg. if i don't have a separate line item, I charge them for it.
  10. rossmosh

    rossmosh Active Member

    Oct 9, 2014
    New Jersey
    Find a happy medium. Send her a rasterized 72DPI "ready to print" PDF.

    At the end of the day, if she wants to go to another vendor, she will. She could easily take a previous example, throw it on a home scanner, send it out to someone to turn into vector artwork for $15-30 and she's ready to go.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  11. ams

    ams Very Active Member

    Oct 28, 2010
    Case by case is how I go. A long time customer last week asked for his logo to be sent to another sign shop (I am great friends with that shop) because they were donating a banner. So I said sure no problem. This customer is always going to use me, so no issues. If I have a really pissed off annoying customer, I send them the artwork and say goodbye.

    But if I create something and then they want it, I don't do it.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. neato

    neato Very Active Member

    May 16, 2003
    Henderson, IL
    If you charged for the design already, charge $25 or whatever your revision minimum is to give her the files. She's still asking for you to use your time to prepare files for her.

    Design in a sign shop setting isn't a product, it's a service. You're charging for your time. If she wants a product once the design is complete (the files) there is nothing wrong with charging for them. (unless you're designing a logo, then it's expected that files are provided as part of the package)

    I get the feeling if you loved this customer you would have already sent the files. Might be a good time to just let her go.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. bob

    bob Major Contributor

    Nov 4, 2005
    I just give it to them. I have no compelling interest in not doing so. If I miss out on a couple of bucks, I'll live. If it's going to some competitor or another I'll live. There's little to be gained by charging for it especially if they've already paid for it and not a big deal if they haven't. My lack of interest in charging for every little thing approaches total. No doubt to the dismay of the Charge For Every Bit Of Minutia crowd.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  14. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    montgomery, alabama
    Give her the damn files! I never understood all this "hoarding" of others' artwork. We as sign folks create logos and art for customers. If they have bought items from my art I created ill send art to them. If I do up some art or logo and the customer does NOT use my services they do not get logo without paying for it
  15. Kentucky Wraps

    Kentucky Wraps Kentucky Wraps

    Mar 6, 2009
    When you specifically hire a photographer to take photos at a wedding, you don't automatically get the legal rights to those photos unless they include that in contract. They were "commissioned" to do photography. Even photo print places require the authorized signature of the photographer if it's a professional photo, in order to print them.
    He charged for design...not rights to the design. You apparently don't know how it works, legally.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Kentucky Wraps

    Kentucky Wraps Kentucky Wraps

    Mar 6, 2009
    Sounds like this customer is already mad (all caps email) and won't continue using you anyway. Let some other shop deal with her LAST MINUTE RUSH jobs, because she's a poor planner and then gets mad at you because her problem is your emergency. Same day rush should cost a premium & for those stickers I'm willing to bet she wouldn't pay it anyway.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    All sounds good to me, except for one thing.

    Everytime this comes up (which it does, quite often), there seems to be one important item missing from the whole equation.

    Why is something like this not determined before money, ideas or anything is exchanged ??

    In other words, if when you make a written quote, it SHOULD outline who gets what, when said project is completed. If you didn't specifically say, it was yours or theirs or mine, then it would seem your method of doing business is a tad lacking. What this seems to be a result of, is/are people afraid to say these things, in fear, they will lose the job, but after receiving the job, then holding the artwork hostage using all this hocus-pocus bullsh!t.

    You either laid claim to it in writing beforehand or you don't have squat, especially if they already paid for it.
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
  18. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

    Sep 27, 2010
    I have a photographer friend that will not send her RAW files to the customers. They include jpgs that she decided were the ones that she would make the best way that she could post production etc. At least how she handles her baby packages. I would imagine that it would be similar with her wedding ones. And no transfer of rights at all. But, this is all spelled out in her contract (as it should be). If it isn't, then suck it up and revisit your contracts and fix the issue.

    It is very different when you commission a final result versus something that is still has another step in production.

    It really depends how you want to handle it as well, I have no problem with people that give the files away, paid or not, when the customer asks for them. But on the flip side, I don't think highly of the ones that do that, but will alter them ever so slightly to change the quality of the output. Especially if they ticked you off when asking for them. I don't care what the reason is, if it's your policy to give them the files, give them the files as you used them. But that's me.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. JR's

    JR's Very Active Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    swansea Ma 02777
    Gino is 100% on the money.
    On my invoices I have it state that all original artwork, design, concepts, color concepts, is the property of the designer.
    And is used for production purposes only. And will be kept on file for future work. Unless otherwise stated.

    And if I don't point this out, it seems like it comes back to bite me. Yes I'm covered legally but who wants to have that conversation.

    If I point to the paragraph and explain to them and state if afterwards they would like to purchase a logo package we could do so. This way everyone is on the same page.
  20. morty87

    morty87 Member

    Feb 17, 2018
    I'm a newb so my input is less than 2 cents however you are assuming that she will leave and never come back. If she liked your quality she will be back as she knows its consistent. If she was that important of a client you would make time to get her labels done. imho
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • OMG / Wow! OMG / Wow! x 1