View Full Version : Selling art & photos to sublimators?

01-08-2004, 12:10 PM

I have had a small business that would like me to 'freelance' for them by providing my photos and photo-art, along with some graphic design to place on tiles, tile murals, mugs, etc.

They have suggested a profit of 20% for each product sold.

I haven't asked them if that would be from their 'cost' price or retail price.

I'm asking for opinions on what way would be best to handle this. Would I go the 'per item' sold route ... or should it be a higher percentage? I know either way I need to have a contract between us ... BUT .. how will I really know if and when she's selling an item with my image on it? :confused:

This may lead to a few other small business (in the same field), wanting my images ... which is great, if I can figure out an acceptable plan for both of us.

All suggestions and opinions are greatly appreciated!
Dee :)

01-08-2004, 05:16 PM
Dee, I suggest you ask to see their standard contract so you can read what the terms entail. Also, I would want to find out what kind of products they will using your images on. Assuming that all is on the up and up, they could be a fantastic way to make extra money and get exposure for your work. Good luck!!

01-10-2004, 10:19 AM

What that company is actually requesting from you is the usage rights... the ability to use your original artworks images without buying the actual artwork (by US federal law, these are two entirely different things). There are several ways you can handle this. Their offer of 20% profit is very low, and makes sure they do not actually have to pay you anything if they do not make sales. This kind of offer covers their *ss, not yours.

I think it better to sell them limited usage rights straight out. In other words, if they want to (for example) print 200 mugs with your artwork image, you just make up a contract saying that they have the right to print 200 mugs with that image... for the payment of XXX dollars. Just make sure the contract also contains a line like "The artist holds all further reproduction and usage rights, as well as the ownership to the original artwork and images of that artwork." Simple, easy... no following them around to make sure you really are getting the 20% profit on sales. Then, if they want to make more than the specified 200 mugs, or use that image for some other product, you just make up another simple contract for that particular usage rights sale... and get more money!

Chances are, if this is a small business making this offer, they may refuse this contract idea... because it means they actually have to put out money (to pay you for usage rights) before the products are sold. Well, if they refuse, don't sweat it... they are probably not financially solvent or professional enough to bother doing business with. Although we artists are always complimented and excited when someone wants to buy our work or artwork image, we have to consider that some business transactions can just be a major headache and not worth the problems! So, just do what is comfortable for you.

For more information about usage rights and the sale of them, you might check out the website of the Graphic Artists Guild at www.gag.org The forums often have alot of information. Their official pricing guide is available in some stores... just saw it in Barnes and Noble. Be aware that their pricing suggestions and contract negotiations are geared towards big time sales to major corporations... but, the site and book can give you some idea of your rights as the artist, and ways that such sales are handled.

Wishing you success... Nance

01-10-2004, 12:54 PM
I can only add a few comments based on giclee publishing:

1. Unless you're really well established, no publisher will pay you upfront. It's always a percentage of sales. I'd imagine most licensing agreements are similar, unless it's a large company. Even then, the contract will probably vary depending on the artist and their selling record for products with their images. We had contracts with our artists for limited rights to produce their images only for certain print runs, they were paid if any sold. (All the investment was ours of course, we didn't expect artists to pay anything.)

2. In print publishing at least 10% is on the high end of the average royalties.

3. The percentage is usually on the trade/wholesale price. The manufacturer has only limited control over the retail markup - the retailer pays for the product then makes their retail price. They wouldn't then give more money back to the manufacturer to pass on to the artist. our only exception to this was when we sold the item at retail through our gallery and then the artist got 10% of retail in those cases.

Definitely get a copy of their standard contract and have a look to see if you're happy with it. If there are parts you aren't sure about ask them or try to negotiate other terms. All they can do is say no. :)