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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.

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.

The Captivating Art of Jason Limon


We’re always happy to see Jason Limon‘s work pop up in our Facebook feed. He’s a very creative and talented artist with an unbelievable consistency. I think we’ve been following his work since 2007, when he took part in the first Mail Me Art. We’ve still got his mail art in storage… I think. We might have to fish that out. :)

His weird and furry creatures are awesome! I’d really love to purchase two or three of his original paintings, but I might have to settle for prints, as is normally the way when you’re a minor league art collector. And don’t even get me started on how amazing his sculptures are!

Check out the rest of Jason’s work at…

How to Hire a Children’s Illustrator


If you’ve written a manuscript or are planning on writing a children’s book, there’s a very handy FAQ over on the Hire an Illustrator staff blog. It covers everything from whether you should actually be hiring an illustrator or not and how much it’s going to cost you. If you’re not an author and have joined the dark side as an illustrator it’s probably worth checking out yourself too. The questions were devised and answered by Ginger Nielson who has years of experience in the publishing industry and has created almost 40 children’s books herself.

Visit: How to Hire a Children’s Illustrator

Image Credit… The Waif by Peter George.

IH8WAR: Artists & Designers Against War


Friend of the LCS, Charles Hively, recently had a chat with us about a very intriguing project he’s running via his Artisanal Media LLC company with colleague Sarah Munt. Charles is hoping the project will eventually turn into a movement and take on a life of it’s own. IH8WAR was born of a talk they gave at Vienna’s Joseph Binder Symposium in October 2014 on the responsibility of artists and designers to become involved in the state of the world.

You can listen to the talk here…

If you weren’t aware, since 2003 Charles Hively has been the design director for 3×3, and is also the founder and publisher of that awesome publication and website.

The poster at the top of the post was created by Monika Grubizna and below you can check out a few more of the submissions.


Stop the War – Alberto Ruggieri (Italy)


Stand – Giulio Bonasera (Italy)


War = Death – Seymour Chwast (United States)

IH8WAR is accepting submissions; head over to their site for more information.

Where to Find Comics in the UK and the State of Comic Book Retail in the US


I love comics, you love comics… Actually I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t love comics. But do you know where your local comic book store is? Recently I came across a map of the UK and Eire showing the locations of numerous comic book retailers. I’m pretty sure there are more out there than are shown on the map, but it does a good job of listing the ones that are on there.

There’s also an international comic shop map, but all it has is the name of the store without the website link and contact information.

While on the subject of comics, David Harper published a really interesting read on The State of Comic Book Retail. It includes some awesome infographics and does a really good job of summarising the pros and cons of owning or running a comic shop. I’m not going to tell you or reiterate what is says – go and read it!

Photo by Tom Morris of our favourite London comic shop Gosh! Comics, although Orbital Comics does come in, in a very close second.

The Future is Now / Are you a Little Chimp?


Now that the LCS is free from being a news syndication site we’ll be having a small website redesign to refocus our public image and to give a better indication of our future direction. We’re still very much about art and illustration, but we’re going to be more focused on the projects and events we run, and the community we’re all part of.

We want to reach out the all the illustrators who feel they’re part of the Little Chimp Society and ask them what they want from us. Do you want more events, do you want products, do you want more articles about the industry? Can you contribute or offer your services?

If you have any thoughts on the LCS or just want to say hello, email Darren at

Image by David M. Buisán for Rocket Magazine from 2010. Check out more of his work at

The Little Chimp says “No More”

Thank you to everyone who’s submitted news to the LCS over the years, but we’re reclaiming the site and community, and no longer accepting public submissions. There’s no need to worry, we’re not going anywhere. It’s just the LCS has changed and it’s about time our website caught up with us. Onwards and upwards!

SALE!!! Showcase 100 prints now 1/2 price!


This is your last chance to pick up one of the Showcase 100 prints! Come Monday, all of the prints will be removed from the shop and for this weekend only all of the prints are half price. We only have one copy of each print and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

The prints are super high quality and were part of the London exhibition earlier in the year. There are loads to choose from, created by the most awesome bunch of artists and illustrators you can imagine.

Shown is the work of Michael Hacker, Mark Hammermeister, Kim Herbst, John Joven, Mike Nash, Marc Scheff and Primary Hughes. Visit the Showcase 100 print shop to check out the rest of the fantastic artwork.

Saltopus T-Shirts Now Only £19


To make way for new stock, all of the awesome tees at Saltopus Apparel are now only £19. All of our t-shirts feature exclusive artwork that you won’t find anywhere else by the likes of Andy Smith, Brian Allen, AJ Frena, Beach and Joel Benjamin.

Follow the external link to grab yourself a Saltopus today!

External Link: Saltopus T-Shirts Now Only £19

BTW, Saltopus is run by the same people who run the LCS, so by buying a tee you’re supporting the LCS too.