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Need Help Drawings

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by Daz7993, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. Daz7993

    Daz7993 New Member

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    Hi.
    Could anyone give advice on the procedure of dealing with new customers please?
    The problem is, we seem to get a lot of customers contacting us for drawings, but
    don’t order. Have since found out that the same customers have gone to three or four sign businesses & done the same thing.
    Am frustrated in the fact that we spend many hours of wasted drawing time on this.
    We’ve now made it a rule to ask for a small deposit to cover the drawing cost before we start, but had a few not getting back in touch.
     
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  2. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    No cost for a thumbnail drawing, but it doesn't leave the shop. Otherwise, any computerized creation isn't started until a written and monetary commitment have been established. Dems da rules, don't like' em, go down the street an get Harry to do them for free.
     
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  3. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    If it's not a quick 10 minute "give me your logo and I'll superimpose it on a photo to show you the sign" kinda thing, then I don't do it. I tell them "we start the artwork phase once an order is placed". If it's a repeat customer I do the art for them. Yes, you will loose some people, but they would be the same people that take your art and shop around.
     
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  4. rjssigns

    rjssigns Major Contributor

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    Gino is on point. In the early days I used to work up comps for clients. Now everything requires a deposit. Wanna see this monkey dance? Better put some money in the cup.
     
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  5. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

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    We need a print/sign request filled In including the customers invoice address before we even look at starting a job lol. No freebies here.
     
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  6. 2B

    2B Very Active Member

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    Estimates are free,

    Design / proofs / layouts are a service, as such are paid for.
    you can direct them to your website, social media page, etc... wherever you are showing/listing your work.
    They can see examples of what you can do.

    initially, we would work up designs and send them with the proofs.
    Then we started seeing our work, and we were not the ones making or being paid.

    now all estimates state;
    Initial Layout / mock-up / proof will start AFTER listed Estimate is approved and according to account terms.
     
  7. The Hobbyist

    The Hobbyist Member

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    I am pretty good with my software, so most of the time, a request for a proof is a matter of 5 or 10 minutes of my time. If there is more work involved, I charge an art fee, and tell the customer that it will be deducted from the final bill if the customer decides to move forward with the project.

    ANY art can be copied, so it is pointless to put watermarks and other copy protection onto images. If you hand them something that is physically printed or give them a digital file, you HAVE given them your work. They may take it elsewhere to have the actual sign made.

    Even photographing a proof from an angle is useless, because Photoshop can skew an image and bring it right back into proper perspective.

    I gave up looking for ethical behavior in anyone under 25 a LONG time ago.

    Joe
     
  8. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

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    Anyone knows art can be copied, it’s all about making it as hard as possible for the customer to have something you’ve made replicated.

    granted we have a procedure in place where we can invoice for any works undertaken, but if someone were to create artwork without any deposit/way to get paid. I believe sending a customer a low res jpg is a lot more responsible than giving them a print ready PDF.

    you’ve admitted yourself that you spend 5-10 mins on jobs. Which you may never get paid for. Fair enough it’s only 5-10 mins but they all add up. Makes more sense to put something in place that means you definitely get paid for that time, or make it hard enough to replicate that they’ll get charged for artwork elsewhere and might as well come to the person that actually generated their artwork.
     
  9. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    Although this is a common problem we don't have a hard line rule on it. The approach will vary based on the customer and the type of project. We'll bend over backwards for our repeat, long time customers. Especially ones who have ordered numerous substantially valuable signs. Their loyalty gets rewarded. But if it's someone we don't know then we'll take more precautions. Also if the sign project value isn't very high then we're not going to waste a lot of design time on it, even if we know it's a guaranteed sale. Some designs can be whipped out fast and others take a lot of work. There's a whole lot of range in between.

    Generally speaking, if we're going to be producing any hand-drawn, original artwork we're not going to be doing any of that up front for free. A simple quick thumbnail to doodle out ideas and get everyone on the same page is one thing. Finished hand-drawn artwork is another. The design fee meter is going to be running for that. The only exceptions we consider is for our long time repeat customers. In those cases we know we're going to make our money back with the design time and chances are we'll use the artwork assets on other projects with that customer.

    The situation is a little more tricky when you're bidding something like a lighted sign project for a business that already has an established brand, artwork assets, color specs, etc. Basically multiple sign companies can be bidding on essentially the same thing. If it's a simple enough project we won't charge anything up front to produce a basic sketch and bid. If our bid wins then we'll do more detailed sketches, electrical diagrams, etc if need be for permitting purposes.

    Customers have ZERO legal rights and ZERO ownership of a sign company's printed sketch or a digital file of it. There is still a thing called copyright law. And it does apply to sign designs. Customers don't have any legal rights to take that sketch to other rival sign shops to copy, even though such behavior frequently happens.

    Sign companies have some options when their work gets plagiarized by unethical rival shops. If it's a big enough project and a shop ripped off our design we'll certainly threaten or even pursue legal action against the sign shop and the client. We've successfully billed would-be clients for our design and administrative time on smaller projects they took to other shops to have copied. Finally a sign shop is under no obligation at all to work with unethical would-be customers. Our customer base is big enough that it doesn't bother us at all to put a dishonest would-be client on a black-list.

    Legal and ethical issues aside, I still don't make it easy for anyone to steal my work. Any PDFs are password protected and the artwork inside will often be rasterized into pixel-based form. Water marks don't really do too awful much. But there are other ways to ruin artwork where it can't be cleanly auto-traced. In the end the low rent, unethical sign shop will put more work into stealing someone else's design that it takes to just create something from scratch. It's a money losing proposition for a lot of lower priced items like banners or window graphics.

    Photoshop's tool set, such as the Lens Correction filter, works only so well.

    Strangely I've heard the same "everyone's doing it" rationale from people who illegally steal artwork, intellectual property or many other illegal or immoral things.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  10. Stacey K

    Stacey K I like making signs

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    For a quickie sign - that's one thing but I don't do any designs for anyone unless they have a deposit or I know the job is moving forward. I usually put a watermark on all images until the final proof, especially for new customers. Sometimes people say they want to see the design before they order or they want to see what I "have to offer" compared to XXX. In this case I tell them that if they like my other designs they should be safe or they can pay for the design. Sometimes they order, sometimes they don't. One of my first customers had me design some boat graphics. Come to find out after several revisions he came in and said XXX was cheaper and was going there. I had no idea at all that he was "design" and "price" shopping. That was the LAST time I ever did that.
     
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  11. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    This topic has been discussed on this forum for years and there never was a stock answer.
    If you feel inadequate to express yourself with a pencil and piece of paper to show a customer an idea and have to go to a program on a computer to work for some time to come up with an adequate idea then you are in a bind. Working for free will put you in a hole real quick.
    So like most people you copy ideas and use those for your styles and certain fonts and clipart and then you tell the customer that you "charge" for your art. Now this is a good thing because now after so many years of this charade of designers it has spread throughout the industry that customers expect it. Even knockout signs on the web have it where you design your own sign to save money. Now when someone emails or calls me they say "how much would you charge me for a design"?
    So for all my fellow sign people and designers, keep it up with charging for your gorgeous designs we see out there in Signworld.
     
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  12. Chuck B

    Chuck B Member

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    No shame in being poor or exhausted....big shame to be both though. People that want free work aren't going to help you, and don't let the size of the "carrot" sway your decision. If we all stay to this resolve, we can "train" the market to have appropriate expectations concerning design. As long as there are "good" designers designing speculatively, we'll continue to deal with this issue.
     
  13. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    Vehicle wraps and boat wraps are both major liabilities for this scenario. It's one thing if the vehicle, boat, trailer, etc is just going to get decorated with a logo, lettering and perhaps some striping effect -stuff that's all simple to do. As we know many wrap jobs can be elaborate and time consuming on the design end. That's where requiring design deposits or just charging up front by the hour becomes mandatory.
     
  14. rydods

    rydods Member

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    Just lost a job where the customer was price shopping but also design shopping. I provided the estimate and they were happy with it but wanted a design for a full trailer wrap to compare with a competitors, but we require a deposit. Emailed later to say that they were going to go with "the other guys". Designing is a service, period.

    In the past and even sometimes now, we'll do quick designs or design something because I strongly feel we'll get the job and most of the time we do, but if for some reason we don't, I still send a bill for design time.
    I had this happen once in the past and our customer's wife called to pay the bill and she said "my husband doesn't feel like they should have to pay the design time but I do."
     
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  15. MikePatterson

    MikePatterson Head bathroom cleaner.

    Crunching the numbers and an estimate are free. Design after deposit.
     
  16. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    That just goes to show the sheer lack of respect quite a few people have for the graphic design profession. They figure the computers are creating the artwork so therefore the design work should be free. Or they just figure anything to do with "art" is just worthless, goofing-off play time and not a real job.

    The lack of respect is apparent in some of the ignorant requests I've heard over the years. "Design me a few wrap options until I see something I like." Gotta shut down that nonsense right from the start.
     
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  17. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    If people want to see how I design, look on my website photo album. I tell them I design AFTER payment. If for some reason you dont like what I come up with I'll offer a 100% refund. No one has ever needed to use that option.
     
  18. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Years ago, people,would look through our photo albums to see what we could do..... and for ideas. While they were doing that, I would draw a sketch or two and show them my ideas for their sign. That setup worked every time. People love to see their venture develop right before their eyes. It's a good feeling to be able to do that for them. In the last 15 or so years, our deposits have become non-refundable and we do not do anything without that money, first.

    In the last 47 years, I only lost one person after doing their design and getting their deposit. It wasn't due to our designs or policies...... they made their own sign and went outta business within about 6 months. So, I'd venture to say, we've always delivered what we said we would.
     
  19. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    I'm willing to doodle rough ideas on paper with a customer in the hunt for specifics about a project before any actual design work begins.

    What I will NOT do is let customers sit beside me at my desk while I work on the project. Been there, done that. It doesn't work. Customers will have a tendency to want you to explain every single little step of the process and argue along the way over choices of type, color, composition, etc. In that type of struggle it doesn't take long before you want to get up out of your chair and tell the customer, "here you go, have at it, design the G0dD@mn thing yourself." I'm not a performing monkey for someone else.

    We get requests from local high schools and Vo-Tech to let students come over and "shadow" me while I work to learn in a type of internship situation. I'm not even comfortable with that. From their perspective the experience is going to be a boring slog because some of the stuff I do can be tedious. Also I might go along in one direction of a project and decide that's not working, toss it out and try something else. I don't feel like explaining all my choices to someone else as I proceed. Ultimately if someone is watching you while you work on a design project there will be a tendency to rush to just get it done, which is NOT good.
     
  20. JetPress

    JetPress Member

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    If it's something from scratch we ask for 50% deposit after estimating how long it will take to create. I'll put "PROOF" across it and send a low res screenshot after. This is with digital work and so I would definitely do the same with hand drawn art. Show samples of your previous drawings so they know what to expect but I wouldn't start sketching anything until I have some money in hand.
     

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