Clients requesting original artwork

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by warezcat, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. warezcat macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2010
    What is the story with this, when you have designed a 12 page brochure in InDesign which has all the elements that you have taken time to design, nice boxes, gradients, transparencies etc.. and then they ask for the packaged file. I know they will use my design and elements in other marketing materials using in house designers rather than us whom they outsourced the work to because the standard in house was not good enough.

    Is it their right and am I being over protective?

  2. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    Now that would depend on your contract with your client, would it not? Otherwise, it depends on who paid for the work. If your client paid for the creation of the materials, then your client owns the materials.
  3. brisbaneguy29 macrumors 6502


    Nov 27, 2007
    Whether it is their right or not, shouldn't you really be asking what do you have to gain by not handing it over, or what would you lose by giving it to the client. As far as I can see by denying this client request, all you will achieve is 1 pissed off client, and no prospect of future work.

    Designers are too precious when it comes to their creative work. And before you start the flame war, I own and run a design agency. If someone pays you to create artwork, in my mind create it and hand it over. Why get all uppity over it. Create a valuable relationship with the client, and it will probably pay off in the long run.

    And no I am not saying your precious or uppity, I was making a generalisation. I run into it all too often, and it always ends in tears.
  4. UTclassof89 macrumors 6502


    Jun 10, 2008
    U.S. law calls most states (I know for certain it's true in Texas) "work for hire" states, which mean when you are paid to do a job, the client owns everything involved in producing that job (code, source files, etc.).

    They paid you for it; they own it (unless stated otherwise in a contract, or obviated by local law).
  5. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    no worries... just hand it over...

    I also run a design studio. Trying to keep control, and to milk residual dollars from your efforts is a noble, but vain effort. It is also bad karma. Pass it on freely and don't worry too much about what they cannibalize from your pieces and parts. If you feel cheated, then raise your rates a bit to account for this.

    In the "old days" it was about control. Both photographers and designers strived to retain possession of their original work. But, look at it this way... they paid you to CREATE the work for them, they should own it (and not just rent the usage of it). Also, honestly... what good to you are the files sitting in your filing cabinet and hard drive? You get to keep the work in essence as an example of the good work you can do, and use it to gain more work from additional clients.

    Also, you should feel good they came to you when they felt their own staff could not perform at a higher level. They will come to you again... when they have that need. Do you want to be a bottom feeder, and just churn away on the dreck? Or do you want to work on the plums, that will showcase your best talents?

    Times have changed, ignore the established advice on original work. Or... they will find someone else who will...

  6. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Where does stock photography and fonts fall under? Im on the other end where we have beg for our creative. We do receive them time to time and most of the times its a flattened PDF/JPEG.
    Sadly when we do get a PSD, its so un-useable for my job (Motion Design HD).
    Its been over 2 years and they are just getting it together as far as what my needs are.
    I have no say on the service, the parent company hired them.

    Just a 3D monkey in a 2D world :p
  7. nastebu macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2008
    In addition to all of that, if their in-house work sucked before, it is going to suck after. They can pick apart your file and your creative work, but they're not going to be able to do anything good with it. You can hand a pot of paint to a monkey, but you can't expect the poor monkey to produce a painting.
  8. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Im in the in-house part of this and with my experience, I make sure we dont screw around with the original. However, since I have to re-create the docs to fit an HD screen format across multiple displays (landscape, portrait, outdoor pylon, dvd on a bus, dvd in a stand-alone machine....) then things get a little hairy at times.
    Oh and I forgot to mention that I have to have this done in less than 2 hours.
    I tell yaa, if the creator set the files up properly whether its InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop then things wouldnt be so bad for the in-house monkeys :)
    I can go into major detail as to what the originator needs to do but that would have to be anther thread.
  9. warezcat thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2010
    Nice one guys, thanks for the replies and some very sound advice in there too. The truth be told I have never stood in the way of handing over original artwork files, we have been running nearly 4 years and have solid client relationships with those we work with.

    It's just this new client is annoying me, it's the first project with them and to be honest my Creative Director who took the project on isn't fussed whether we gain more work or not with them, simply because of the way they are being. Reason I asked is because there are lots of arguments as to why it's the right thing to do and why you shouldn't bother as stated in this thread.

    For example: (Ripped from a thread somewhere online)

    I dont know any professional designers who will supply unflattened or project files for the standard fee. I do broadcast design and some print, and unless a client is willing to pay 3 to 5x over my standard rate, they have no chance of getting the project files. Supplying the project files gives the client the chance to reverse engineer them and make endless variations to use for free. You also run the risk of the client making you look bad by royally screwing your design work in the process.

    This is true. No GD should hand over the master file without a hefty fee. If they do they are fools. The master file is all you have as leverage to get paid as well as get more work.
    When a company/client hires a GD to produce graphics they are ONLY paying for a final image, Not the editable master file unless it is specifically agreed to in a contract. Handing over the master file almost guarantees no more work and in some cases not getting paid.

    Having read that I feel indignant at the idea of "handing it over".

    But the replies in this thread resolve that I believe.. Almost... ;)
  10. spiritlevel macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2007
    I run a design company too and in general I agree with what the others have said - don't be too precious, they paid for it.

    However, I'll admit to feeling a bit hard done by when I created a mini site for a particular department of an investment bank a couple of years ago, only to find that 9 months later, they had taken my design and implemented it across all their departments as well as their main .com site. Had I had any idea the scope of the project would increase like this (by a factor of 10 or more), I would have charged considerably more for the job.

    I was a bit miffed because they never asked if it was OK (or even told me they were going to do it) nor did they ask me to quote for doing the work. In fact I only found out because my main contact in the original department I did the work for noticed it had happened and asked me if I knew anything about it. He also told me to write in and complain about it as he thought it wasn't on either.

    The nail in the coffin was that the company who implemented my design made a good job of murdering it and charged more than double what I would have done to do it properly.

    You live and learn.

    Edit: I'll just add that I've been doing this professionally for 15 years now, have never used a contract and have never not been paid...I tend to have very good and close working relationships with my clients and the example above is the only time where I feel I have ever been screwed. And that's because it wasn't my client that screwed me but someone who happened to work for the same company, in a completely different department, in a different country.
  11. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Ive been at this since 1994. Ive worked with numerous design firms, post-house and even at the opposite end of in-house.
    The above comments are true but not sure if they stand the test of time due to the current economy.
    Be strong and hold your ground if you can.
    Ive had to do the same but let go of a few myself.
    One time I created a huge 3D dataset/animation and had to hand over the files.
    Were talking 3DMax/Maya/Autocad files.
    They could have easily done anything with the files but to date, Ive heard they sat on the DVD (data) without touching it.
    You just have to go with your gut at times :)
    Good Luck!

    P.s. my first question about stock photos and fonts is still a question, can anyone field this?
  12. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Yep gotta walk away from those. itll drive you nuts. Contracts are iffy. Damn if you dont, damned if you do (and vice-versa) :(
  13. spiritlevel macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2007
    Stock - depends on whether the stock is licensed or royalty free. If it was licensed it can only be used for the original project it was licensed for - end of. If it's royalty free, it's a bit more of a grey area. If the designer bought the stock, then the license is in his name. But if he then billed the client for it, the client will feel it is theirs as they paid for it...I think legally the license is still with the designer regardless but I'm not sure that a stock company would pursue them for using images they had paid for in this way

    Fonts - If the designer bought the font, then they are the license holder. Each foundry has their own EULA but most let you send the font to a printer for the purpose of printing the job with the proviso that they delete the font after. I tell my clients that they need to pay me for the fonts I use, and if they want to use the font in house then they need to buy further copies for themselves.
  14. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    to add, we also have an in-house designer here. she buys her stock and would use it for print and web. however when she submits for use in our Digital Signage, I would turn around and buy a lower res version (depending on final output) to avoid the legal hassle.
    Print has different legal use than video/digital signage from my experience.
    Fonts is still an iffy one. I need the actual fonts to use in After Effects.
    If I had to re-create for 3D no problem. Just make outline and extrude.
    However After Effects a diff story :)
  15. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    yikes.... this is some bad advice... follow it at your peril

    BELIEVE. Good clients are hard to find. Sounds like you have your doubts about this new one anyway. Bad clients on the other hand are "easy" to find. They are the ones who want to see stuff on spec, chew you down on price yet make endless revisions plus tack on little mini-projects (included in your original price), are slow pay, or worse no pay. They are easy to find because they are constantly using new, naive designers, who are lured in by the promises of greater workloads (that never materialize).

    Do not begrudge them the work, and its working files. They are not just hiring you for the end result. Likewise, if you worked for an agency... the working materials would "be theirs" along with the finished product. If you want to be so persnickety about ownership about working materials get it in writing ahead of time (but I can't think you will a lot of friends, or long-term clients that way).

    The "advice" is common, and it is very old school. Photographers used to use it when selling stock, or for jobs where the clients wanted the originals. That may have been great back in the old days of film, slides, pasted up layout boards, or stripped up film with it's separations imposed. Everything is digital now. It is normal to try and get more money for what used to be of a great perceived value. Remember, at that time "cheap" stock images were $100 each, and not a few bucks.

    Playing games by providing flat files, or finished PDFs is poor form. Furthermore, for those "grunts" on the other end you are making their lives unnecessarily difficult. There are plenty of reasons they may need to go into the working files (and it isn't to make you look bad). This of course assumes you can make a lean and proper file to start with. No offense meant there, but I am in a situation where I am on both sides (I both create materials and send them to other publications, and also use supplied files from other agencies and designers in publications I produce). You would be surprised how MOST of the files I get in from "professionals" are a mess, and poorly constructed. RGB artwork not converted over, Trutype or crappy/questionable fonts, Artwork hugely scaled up (or down), and a myriad of extraneous boxes, etc.

    You are NOT foolish if you hand over materials, as they are NOT your only leverage for additional work (or getting paid). What a load of crap, this business is really about relationships and rapport. Repeat customers are the ticket to long-term success and survival. Repeat can mean once a week, once a month, once a year... etc. As long as they come back and to you, you don't have to search out some one else to pay you the $100, $1000 etc. If they only have that one little need, and you provide them a good value, they will come back to you. If they like you, they will tell others. All of my business is either repeat business, or word-of-mouth. I have not had to cold call for customers in the last 8 years I have been on my own. I consider myself fortunate. Picking up work from "professionals" who dispensed those two pearls of wisdom would be easy pickins, as you can pretty much feel the contempt/disdain they have for those who pay them for their talents.

    If the client just uses you for the working files and has no intent of furthering the business beyond that, you don't want them anyway. They are a lousy client and you would be better off without them...

    I won't touch the issues of embedded stock or fonts. The legalistic answer would be they would have to purchase their own font versions, and likely the stock as well (if it was reused for other needs).
  16. UTclassof89 macrumors 6502


    Jun 10, 2008
    Usually I hash out at the project outset whether public domain stock photos and fonts will be used, or not (and if not, I make it clear that the cost of such will be added to the bill).

    Most royalty free stock photography licenses allow you to pass the raw photo as a source file with a job.

    Fonts are another issue: most licensed fonts may not be distributed (since they are more likely to be used for other things entirely).

    Both are good reasons to have a detailed scope of work agreement (a.k.a. contract) at the outset.
    to any freelancers: Doing work on a handshake may be easier, but will bite you at some point. And having a detailed contract often makes you look more experienced and professional
  17. irishgrizzly macrumors 65816


    May 15, 2006
    What about a case where another design firm calls to request original artwork on an older job for a client? Do people give files over?
  18. UTclassof89 macrumors 6502


    Jun 10, 2008
    If the client authorizes it, yes.
  19. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    One advantage in using the latest version of the Adobe CS suite is that you have it, but your clients most certainly don't. If you give a company that is not involved in design an InDesign CS5 file now, most will not be able to open it. This is only from my personal experience. Once I gave the InDesign files of a brochure to a client only to be asked if I could transform them into a Word file. I politely explained that this was not possible... :p
  20. warezcat thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2010

    Cheers for the post man. I'll take that advice and do as we always do, provide the working files but after end of yesterday we won't be working with this client again.
  21. warezcat thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2010

    Our clients know about back-saving unfortunately. lol.
  22. NXTMIKE macrumors 6502

    Nov 11, 2008
    I love it when that happens. ;)
  23. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    What does the contract say? Design for 1 flyer?

    Paying for 1 flyer does not get the rights to use design elements for other projects. But of course, most people now a days don't understand intellectual property though.

    So, it depends on relationship and cost / benefit.

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