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Design Ownership **Rant**

Discussion in 'General Chit-Chat' started by RebelGraphics, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. RebelGraphics

    RebelGraphics Member

    May 14, 2020
    So, most of the time clients don't like to pay design fees, they have the silly idea that "it's just a name and a phone number", "simple stuff" so sometimes I don't charge them and let them know that we own the files. I have two aneurysms today because of this nonsense.
    1- Client sends me a screenshot of a "signs for cheap" website with a crappy design he attempted. He had the ballz to ask me to please refine it and send it back to him. hell to the no mister.
    2- Another client asked me for a menu design I did more than a year ago (should I still call him client?). I said ok, it's $$$$, he was like "but I already paid you", well, if you look at your invoice you paid for the finished item only. He got upset and hung up on me.
    Other than the last one, I've been trying to be flexible because of business closures/reopenings but they also have to value my time and work. Personally, I don't release my original files unless you pay for them.
  2. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

    Sep 3, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Can’t help much with #1 because that’s just a customer being cheeky

    But with #2 that really needs to be something you have clearly explained up front and give the customer the choice at the very least.

    For us, we just have a higher design price and all the customers own their artwork. That way if they want to shop around and go elsewhere, so be it. Saves extra time and hassle dealing with them in the future! Sounds a lot like you don’t like customer #2 so I’d just give them their files and be done with it. Not worth the extra headache.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. FireSprint.com

    FireSprint.com Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing

    Maybe try to add an "Artwork Release Charge" at the bottom of every invoice. Something that they can pay at any time to realease their artwork?

    It's been my thought that owning design work is a difficult proposition. It's very challenging to do this and keep happy customers overall. Back when we were retail, we included a certain amount of design time in with every order. If we needed to go beyond that, we billed for it. From there, the customer owned their artwork just like they owned their sign. They pay for the time, they own it.

    I think this debate typically pops up when a designer feels like they were not compensated for their time. The deeper issue is figuring out a good system, and sales process that gets designers paid for their work early on in the process.

    I think sign design falls into 2 categories:
    1.) "Free" limited design included with the sale of the product.
    2.) Creative branding that should be billed for entirely separately.

    Either way, delighting customers will require you to give up your artwork from time to time.
    • Like Like x 4
  4. Reveal1

    Reveal1 Active Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    Cape Girardeau, MO
    IPrintstuff and Firesprint on the right track. For simple things like banners we include 5-10 minutes of 'layout' in the price and make sure the customer knows it - a good differentiator. Everything else billed at a non-refundable hourly rate and the customer owns the artwork. We typically charge for 1 hour deposit for most jobs unless a larger design effort where we get half of the estimate.

    Trying to charge for art release not a good idea in my mind as that just causes bad feelings and I would rather have the money up front. Example - we have a customer that spends 5-10K annually to refresh their product catalog design. Got that when the previous designer, whom they were happy with, dug in her heels when requested to provide a PDF of the catalog. The customer wanted to use it on their website. The customer actually paid us to entirely re-create the files so they would not be at the mercy of the designer. We have the business, they have the files and have been doing now for 5 years.
  5. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

    Dec 9, 2015
    buffalo ny
    So now you have an upset former customer and menu artwork that you will never be paid for. He probably wants to make throwaway menus because of the Covid thing. And what are you going to do with that artwork now, it's not gold, you will be throwing it in the trash in another year.
    Always charge for your artwork, incorporated into your pricing. This topic comes up all the time with you signguys puffing up your chest about telling former customers they have to buy something they thought they already paid for. It's your fault you had all that in fine print in your brain but not the customers.

    And one more thing, how long do you think you will be able to keep your Rebel name with the environment changing on that sort of thing.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Member

    May 7, 2019
    We do not charge for artwork or design
    We set a price for finished product , which is established by materials used and time to create item. We are a walk in shop. Look at example , touch material , pay deposit. Pick up and pay balance. And both exchange "Thank You " makes life easier. Very few installs
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Like others have said, you need to put in writing upfront what happens with said artwork/files. You can't hold artwork for ransom, if someone p!sses you off.

    • Like this..... not with the covid19 going around, but in the past, if you went into a restaurant, ordered some things and asked to have some items not listed, the waitress would say, that's gonna cost extra. Now, you have a choice to have it your way or no way. You should probably give your customers the choice upfront, too.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. JetPress

    JetPress Member

    Dec 10, 2018
    We offer a custom logo package to customers upfront. It helps with dealing with headaches down the road but once in a while we'll get somebody from years ago now wanting the design files for free.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. bob

    bob Major Contributor

    Nov 4, 2005
    Just give it to them. The artwork has no value to anyone except, perhaps, the client. Even at that, it's not worth anything worth arguing about. Give it to them and you'll see them again. Demand to be paid for it and kiss them goodbye. If you're not charging enough that you have to chisel on a design, you should change your pricing model. Don't be a cheap chisler, just gove it to them.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Active Member

    Apr 22, 2007
    Normal, Illinois
    I don't charge for production. We set a price for the requested licensing and the client is free to go wherever they want.
  11. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Active Member

    Apr 22, 2007
    Normal, Illinois
    Well, we do charge for production if we are asked to do it. But I only do free designs for charity.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. DPD

    DPD Member

    Apr 3, 2005
    New Jersey
    I charge for design with a fixed price upfront based in time. If I see that we are approaching the time allotment I let the customer know that there will be additional fees for design. This is all understood in my initial discussion with the customer and it's on my estimate.

    This has the additional benefits that the customer and I can work towards design without money being an issue and the cost of the sign is lower since no costs are included.

    A couple of months ago I had a customer cancel prior to build and the only fees that I kept were for design. Customer understood completely.

    I did give the customer the design. She paid for it.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. The Yanki & The Brit

    The Yanki & The Brit The Yanki & The Brit Signs and Radio Show

    Sep 3, 2014
    Oh for Christs Sake, give it to them and move on. If he comes back, tell him how much it will be, upfront and if he pays you first, before doing anything, you win.
    How long did it take you to type this? How much time did you spend deciding if you even wanted to make a post about it?
    How much work for someone else would you have done already if you hadn't wasted your time on some Banana Brain?
    It's the real world... it is what it is!
  14. AndytheAussie

    AndytheAussie New Member

    Jun 24, 2020
    Sydney, Australia
    It's a problem as old as Postscript and DTP. When there were masters, plates and film seps there were physical items to 'own'. Now it's bits and bytes. Simple solution is to separate design from the production side in the eyes of customers. 2 business names, even if in same building. Bill design and production through each business. Heck, design & creative could become more profitable!
  15. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

    Oct 21, 2016
    Frisco, TX
    I always charge extra for menus and separate the design cost from the sign so they can see what they are paying for. My invoices state that I charge $125 to release files so Id give it to them for that.
  16. shoresigns

    shoresigns Very Active Member

    Nov 1, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    We always charge for design, but for small jobs we just estimate the time and wrap it into the same line item as the sign, and we mention that design work is included in the description. No one complains. If we find out after the quote that they need design work done, we tell them the extra cost, and still no one complains.

    For larger design jobs (>1 hour) we usually just charge hourly, give a rough min/max estimate of the time, and tell them that we'll confirm with them before we go beyond the estimated maximum. No one complains.

    And we never charge to supply source files, even if it's years later, unless it's going to take a significant amount of time to find the files and send them out.
  17. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

    Feb 4, 2005
    Lawton, OK
    We don't have a flat policy on design charges or releasing vector-based art files to clients. If it's a simple project, such as text only and maybe a production ready logo they supplied we won't hesitate to give them art files. Design charges do come into play for lots of other things.

    We do not do raster to vector conversions for free. Our policy is a per hour charge plus any additional fees, like if we have to buy a font file or a certain stock clip art file or image to complete an accurate re-build of their pixel stuff. Each case is going to be different from a tiny bit to a lot.

    We do not do creative work, coming up with complex graphics, logos, illustrations and other imagery from scratch for free either. Vehicle wrap designs require a design deposit before work begins. When the final designs are approved and paid for the client can get art files if need be.

    Restaurant menus can be a tricky thing for a client to move from one design house to another. All sorts of different assets go into those things (stock imagery/clip art, commercial fonts, commissioned studio photography of food, etc). If a restaurant owner wants a different ad firm creating his menus that new firm will probably have to buy a lot of assets all over again or use something new or different. Assets like stock art images and clip art or commercial fonts can't be freely passed around legally. I may not hesitate to give a client a vector copy of his logo. But he sure isn't getting any of my commercial fonts.
  18. RebelGraphics

    RebelGraphics Member

    May 14, 2020
    Last paragraph is spot on, thanks for understanding.
    Design was more than the word “Menu” and a picture of a plate and terms were clearly discussed upfront. This was more of a case of customer trying to pull a fast one and I don’t appreciate the that.
    FYI, release terms are on every invoice
  19. RebelGraphics

    RebelGraphics Member

    May 14, 2020
    All terms were down on paper and discussed upfront. He was just trying to pull a fast one

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