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Why as a freelancer you shouldn’t work-for-hire!

It’s actually really simple: every time you create a new, original piece of work you own the copyright to it. Instantly. Automatically. You don’t need to apply for it, it’s yours… even if you don’t finish the piece. The main exception is if you become a full-time employee of a company or are working on a licensed character or something similar. But then if you are an in-house illustrator you’ll be entitled to holidays, sick pay, maternity leave, maybe a pension and all the other awesome things you get when you’re an employee rather than being your own boss. In return for those things and a regular wage, as long as you’re not on a zero hour contract and you feel you have job security, I think it’s a fair compromise to give up your copyright and become a work-for-hire cowboy.


Brony, copyright Alex Fine

But when you’re your own boss and you have to cover all those things yourself, why would you give up your copyright? There’s almost never a good reason to sell full rights when you can sell a client a license and save the client a pretty penny in the process. Yes you heard me right, by not selling your copyright to a client you’re saving them money. Take your typical fee (not including full rights) and add 100-150% to it; that’s how much you should be charging for the copyright. If you already include the copyright when you sell an image, you need to half your fee… is that enough? If you don’t think so, you are undercharging for your work, undervaluing yourself and making it more difficult for other hard-working illustrators to charge a proper fee. Not to mention you could be damaging future relationships with your clients when you realise you should have been charging them more. When you quote for a job, never include the copyright and always give the client a few licensing options. If the client does ask for copyright, and you’re willing to sell it, double up your highest quote. They may need it, they may want it, but if that’s the case they should be paying for it.

Some Big Companies at this stage will tell the artist they want to buy or own all copyrights to the image created. For instance, if Disney commissioned me to do an illustration featuring Mickey Mouse, well, they own Mickey Mouse. They would not want me later on licensing the illustration to a company that makes Disney toys for sale with a product, because Disney wants to own and control the Mickey Mouse brand. So, they will without a doubt tell me that working for them means they will purchase the entire copyright from me. This leaves me with no secondary streams of revenue. This usually costs money, and Big Companies typically pay accordingly.
Learning How to Commission Illustration by Randy Gallegos

When you sell a client a license it’s either time-limited or usage-limited or a mixture of both. For example, you might sell an editorial license for a newly commissioned image to a publisher permitting them to only use it in their magazine or on their website as part of a certain article. You’re then free to sell the same image to an apparel company or an advertising company who might use it as part of a motion graphic. But to avoid a conflict where two companies are using the same image at the same time, you might sell the first company an exclusive 12 month license, so although they can still only use it for certain things without paying extra and extending their usage, they’ll be the only ones with the image for 12 months. You can even offer them a renewal when the license expires or offer them a longer license in the first place. Alternatively you might offer them an exclusive perpetual license on using the image in their magazine. They then have it exclusively for a specific usage forever, so why would they want to pay extra for the copyright?

I don’t believe that an illustrator should never sell their copyright. I just think that when they do, they should be paid appropriately for it – and if they don’t, they should be able to bring in a secondary revenue stream from the work they’ve created through additional licensing. Obviously, when an illustrator has more experience they can demand a higher fee for their work, but over time an illustrator’s actual portfolio should gain value too.

If you ever need advice on this subject or any other illustration-related issues, join Hire an Illustrator, then you can email me or Jane directly for help. Or if you just want to get your two pennies worth in on this topic, follow this link and leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Lizzie Mary Cullen: Late Paying Clients Can Ruin Illustration Businesses


Lizzie Mary Cullen has just had a well said rant about clients paying their invoices late or not at all, and how it is much more than just an inconvenience. If you commission illustrators, please pay attention and have a read. You hire them because you love what they do, so please show them enough respect to pay them on time.

Read: How a Late Paying Client Can Ruin a Freelance Business

A Scribble of Illustrators Exhibition


Eleven of the west-country’s finest children’s illustrators will be showing their diverse range of techniques and skills, as well as hosting various family events, readings and workshops over two weekends at Walcot Chapel, Bath, during the Bath kid’s literature festival.

Participating artists: Joe Berger, Paula Bowles, Jo Empson, Yasmeen Ismail, Sean Julian, Steven lenton, Henning Löhlein, Gwen Millward, Donough O’Malley, Lauren Tobia and Sarah Warburton.

Workshops for children (3-8years old), book readings and signings will be announced soon. Exhibition open from 12am to 5pm. More info: A Scribble of Illustrators Exhibition

How to Approach US Art Directors


Words of wisdom from 3×3‘s Charles Hively, the Jedi Master of working with art directors and quality illustration. Charles is going to be running a 3-hour webinar which will be a bitesized version of the full-day workshop he held in London, October 2014. It’s $50, but worth every penny and they’ll be a Q&A.

We’ll discuss the most important times of the year to send out materials, and the months that are a waste of time and money. We’ll talk about the best day and time of day to contact a prospective client. We’ll explore what to put in a subject line that will get an art director to open your email. And what months you should plan a visit to New York and how to set up appointments. And we’ll share with you the materials that come across our desk from both photographers and successful illustrators. Learn from their success. – Charles Hively

The webinar will be on the October 24th, 9am-12pm EDT and you’ll find tickets via Eventbrite at

Presenting the MMA4 Submission Gallery

2015-09-16 19.06.06

The deadline for sending in a submission for Mail Me Art: Open All Hours has now past, but we will still accept late submissions until the New Year. It’s just submissions that arrived before the deadline will get priority if there ends up being a lack of space at the exhibition or in the next publication. All you need is a copy of the Mail Me Art 3 book if you do want to take part. We will do our best to accommodate any late submissions that do arrive, but as mentioned we can’t make any promises.

If you’d like to check out all the current submissions, we’ve just put up a gallery of all the Open All Hours mail art. Visit the Mail Art Gallery for Mail Me Art: Open All Hours, it also includes a list of all the MMA4 contributors.

Saltopus x Andy Smith Impending Doom T-Shirt


Saltopus and Andy Smith have teamed up to create this iconic t-shirt! Andy Smith is a hand lettering supremo and Saltopus sell awesome t-shirts and apparel which means them working together is a match made in heaven.

If you weren’t aware Saltopus is run by the same people who run the LCS! We love Andy’s work and we have done for years, so being able to work with him on this t-shirt was a dream come true. You can buy the tees directly from and they ship internationally. Available in sizes S-XL and you can pay with most major credit cards via PayPal. What are you waiting for?!

Buy Now: Saltopus x Andy Smith Impending Doom T-Shirt