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rss 285 weeks ago
I have a regular client that I do a lot of work for. They manufacture a TON of different kid's products - stickers, books, games, flashcards, etc. Typically they have art sketched out by one artist and then colored by another artist. I do both work for them, usually I color raster art and create full pieces in vector. Anyway - I recently colored a book cover so that it had a watercolor appearance. It involved some new brushes that I made, as well as some processes in Photoshop as well as Illustrator. Definitely my own process - (maybe even a bit backwards, but it achieved the desired look). They were going to give me the rest of the book to color, but they needed some other work done before, so they gave me that instead. They're now asking me to tell them how I created the watercolor effect (they're having someone else do the coloring to match my previous work). I don't think I should have to tell them - afterall - they're paying for art, not education.

This argument applies more broadly to jobs where the client asks for "working" files instead of finished press files. I tend to fall on the "you're paying for an outcome/finished piece" category. If a client really presses for working files, I do normally give in...I mean - I need to eat.

I'm interested to know what other people think. Thoughts? I'd especially like to hear from my fellow 1099 crowd...
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    285 weeks ago
    hmm, never been asked for working files besides working along with a writer. That's a tough question, will they not pay the agreed on price with no working files?
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    285 weeks ago
    i agree with you, jecrt

    i supply the client only a flattened / locked / print ready file
    anything else i consider my own property
    like you said, they're paying for the final art, not the process

    i usually explain that it would take more time for me to teach someone my process
    than for me to just do it myself
    saving time and money, i'd be happy to do the job for them

    i'm guessing it comes down to how they will react
    and how much you want to keep them as a client
    i've given in and handed over the keys before as well
    sometimes you have to pick your battles

    it's a touchy one.....good luck
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    285 weeks ago
    yeah arrow - I do a lot of "surface art" for them - which is basically just giant sheets of art to be used on a variety of products. They ask for 10 - 15 items, a couple basic, coordinating pattern fills and a color palette. I usually try and make sure everything is outlined, etc. (no "freebie" brushes, etc.) Occasionally they'll ask for the working files because they basically mix and match my art and make more pieces from it...which kinda smurfs, but whatever. I ALWAYS have contracts before I start, so they have to pay full price. It's really a matter of keeping myself in good standing = heavy rotation.

    The woman asking for the details in this particular instance isn't really an artist/designer - more of a workflow manager - so I was extremely vague with how I did it. She seemed satsified. Hopefully the other artist won't be able to figure it out (and will waste a little time) and I can get the job back when my schedule clears up a little.

    enin - I'm glad to hear that you agree. Teaching to fish should pay more than the fish themselves.
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    285 weeks ago
    Yeah, in no way should you be giving work files and processes to a client unless it's in the contract and they've paid you well for the additional data.

    If they want that level of content/information, there should absolutely be a higher price tag on it. After all, the reason they're asking is so that they won't have to pay for your time to create things for them, so you're just limiting the effect that will have on your profits.

    (This is the way it's been done at various companies I've worked at, so I think it's pretty standard- if the client can't respect that, they're going to nickle and dime you every step of the way anyway, so it's not worth your time.)
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    285 weeks ago
    well, speaking from a more personal standpoint rather than fully legal...
    its one thing to point someone in the right direction to find their own way in art/design. its a whole other ball of wax to have to give up specifics. i would never tell them how to precisely recreate what you made. if you can tell them in a couple of sentences how to get what you did, then fine. if its something wholly original and your own, then screw that. thats like KFC giving you the recipe. sure they give you the chicken made with that recipe... and if you were brilliant enough you could duplicate it (or nearly) but there is no way in hell they would outright TELL you the specifics man. no way.
    bottom line,
    trade secrets. guard them. they are what makes you irreplaceable.
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    285 weeks ago
    That's what I've always thought. I guess I was just wondering if I had always assumed too much (based on their reactions) I mean - they aren't always the best client...they routinely low-ball me on price, up deadlines on contracts (saying it's due in a couple weeks, but putting a couple days on the contract), changing art direction mid-project but not adjusting price - BUT, they give me as much work as I can handle (which is a lot) I still make money.

    This particular style will really make money for me though a one of their major retail buyers prefers it and, as of right now, they don't have anyone buy me to do it.

    Thanks for the thoughts!!
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    285 weeks ago
    i don't think you're overreacting
    and you're well within your rights and professional courtesy to say no

    sounds like you are holding the cards on this one
    i'd listen to pepper and mj
    don't sell yourself short

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