Graphic Design Business Questions and Answers - Pricing Projects to General Business Information

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Q. I can't draw and am worried that a client will request an illustration that I cannot do. What do I do when a client ask for this?

A. As for a client requesting a cat smoking a cigar or even a sailboat, you can always use clip-art or contract an illustrator. I know how to draw, but my skill is not in illustration, so I hire that extra work out. Of course, I mark the cost up. Put it this way, if a client requests something give them 2 options. One would be clip-art, which is not custom and you may not be able to find exactly what they want, or you tell them you can have your illustrator come up with custom artwork. Let them know the price difference. To figure pricing on clip-art, I just roll that into the cost of my design quote; it is so inexpensive, it does not justify too much additional costs. For custom work, this could range from $100 to several thousand. Get with an illustrator and mark up the work 20%.

Q. I looked over your pricing guides, and I wondered how much I should charge for my work?

A. To answer you question about what to charge, is dependent on experience as well as location. Your location could warrant a high fee such as $100 per hour, but that all depends on experience and skill level. As an artist starting out, I would charge between $30 and $50 per hour, with $50 an hour being the preferred rate. Use our pricing guides and plug in your hourly rate. You should also time yourself on a regular basis to see how much time it takes to do a project. By the way, never sell yourself short. If it takes you 5 hours to do a brochure, and you know that most designers would take 10, then charge for 10. If the client has a hard time with the costs, go down to 8 hours charge. You're still making money and are beating the competition.

Q. If I did some work for a magazine and they paid me for that work, could I use that work in my portfolio, even if that work included someone else's photography that was part of the work I did. Meaning, I did a magazine cover for this company and the photographer gave me permission to use the photo. I put this magazine cover in my online portfolio and the photographer saw it and called it his work. The ultimate question is, can I put that magazine cover in my portfolio even if the photographers picture is on the front of it? I would be grateful if you could answer this question for me.

A. As for putting the magazine cover in your portfolio should not be a problem since you designed it. If you did the layout, then it is your work. The photographer can claim the photo as his work, but the design of the cover is your work and he has no claim to it. You should not even have to ask permission from the photographer to post the cover, however, you might want to give credit to the photographer for his photo.

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