Artist Agreements?

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Artist Agreements?

Postby The Bard on Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:28 am

Hello,

I Apologies if there's already a thread regarding this.

My enquiry is regarding agreements. Being that I'm merely a writer with very limited artistic ability. I need to sign an artist up or employ one for the project. Is there examples available of agreements to sign an artist up to your project? Oh do we in Australia use the gentleman's hand shake type of agreement and hope it all works out for the best.

Regards,
James.
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Re: Artist Agreements?

Postby matt g on Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:12 pm

Hi James,

I'm sure there are agreements available, but unless you've got something between yourselves in writing, you can more or less guarantee it'll go pear-shaped. The written contract provides first and foremost protection from the "what if he's trying to screw me" paranoia that can sneak in on all sides as the investment in a work increases.

The first principle is this - you are paying an artist (who has invested their life in building up their skills) because they can do something that you cannot do, without which your project will not happen.

The main things you need to address are:

Reward for investment - as a writer be aware that it can (usually will) take MUCH more time to illustrate a scene than to describe it with text, and more importantly, editing / changing said illustration, even if digital is a long process and is very time consuming. Think of it as the equivalent of having to do all of your scripts as handwritten perfect copperplate manuscripts. Of course, it you're putting in your time in promotions etc that counts as "work" from your perspective.

Payment terms - Ideally, this should be "pay on delivery", and not "pay on publication". Additionally, your artist should expect a reasonable deposit prior to starting work, that is non-refundable if you cancel the project, and structured progress payments as work is delivered.

"Exposure" is not payment. As Harlan Ellison has frequently raged, "pay the artist".

The artist will have to refuse other (paying) work to work for you, so make sure your funding is secured to cover your entire commitment to the artist. If you say you're getting them to illustrate a 100page book, make sure you've got the cash set aside for 100 pages of the artist's illustrations. If you bail partway through, and the artist has refused another job that would have been worth more than the current progress payment, then you've got some serious liability issues to consider.

The main consideration is that the artist should not have to wear risk by producing a single unpaid penstroke, so....

Ownership - Unless you have a contract that explicitly states it, the copyright for the artwork will remain with the artist (i.e you can't prove the copyrights are signed over to you). If you want to own the work outright without paying the artist a residual *every* time it's used, add a zero or two (or four) onto the price you're willing to pay, because you're effectively asking the artist to grant you an entire lifetime's worth of income generating uses of their art, for a one time fee that'll probably be ridiculously small because you're "just starting out".

If you can't offer iron clad guarantees of timely payment for work, then you need to start thinking in terms of equity, in which case you're taking the artist on as a business partner, and that opens a whole world of issues.

It all comes down to a simple rule of thumb - If it's your project, pay the artist, pay the artist first, and keep paying the artist every time you earn income from the work.

cheers
mattg.
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Re: Artist Agreements?

Postby The Bard on Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:57 am

Thanks Matt,

That was the answer I was looking for! Very much like my Film and Tv training - "When working with actors agreements".

Thank you for the advise,
James
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Re: Artist Agreements?

Postby Tom on Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:30 pm

Hi,
I suggest you look up this thread
viewtopic.php?f=50&t=3392
about the comic portfolio and or email Jozef or Julie (the authors of thread) to get more of an idea. They're campaigning to get standard fees, contracts etc set up for the protection of comic creators.
What Matt said is very well put but also think of a contract as insurance for yourself as well. I'm sure there's nothing more frustrating for a writer to have their artist bail out and leave with a quatre of comic done and having to start the process all over again.
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Re: Artist Agreements?

Postby The Bard on Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:50 pm

Thank you Tom. I'll look into that.

James.
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Re: Artist Agreements?

Postby Anomic on Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:15 am

Hello Bard,
Dave Cunning and I did a fair bit of work around this issue back in the LAC days (Dave also invested his hard earned in a Intellectual property lawyer), the contracts that LAC had with creators could easily be adapted for your purposes – so If Dave’s still lurking on this forum it would be worthwhile asking him if he’d be OK sharing LAC’s intellectual property.

For a writer this can be a bit of a mind field especially if things get nasty between the writer and illustrator (this is amplified if there is success and dollars involved) - Questions like: who owns characters, life worlds, etc. if the project was collaborative. What happens to the final product after it has been used for its particular use/publication - on this issue, I’ve had a few unauthorised uses of what I’ve written and images of my characters appearing on websites and other publications because the artist felt that it was “their” product, it’s not a particular issue for me only because there’s no real money in Australian comics but if there was....

Also keep in mind that even if you pay an artist for a particular job this does not necessarily void their copyright to that image, this is why a contract is necessary to cover the rights of both parties.
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Re: Artist Agreements?

Postby The Bard on Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:51 pm

Thank you for your very sound advice Anomic.

James.
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