Do you do work “on spec,” or speculation work? We want to see what you can do before we hire you.
After over 40 years of doing business in graphic and web design, I have discovered (sometimes the hard way) the wisdom of following standard business practices. I believe in clients being able to make an informed decision, so I try to spell everything out up front so there are no misunderstandings. I don't work without a contract — it keeps both of us safe, and releases all rights to the final art to you on final payment.
The initial consultation (maximum of 2 hours, including travel) and any research or preparation work I do for the first meeting is free. My hourly rate is $70 per hour, charged in 15-minute increments, with a 15-minute minimum. I charge for all my services, because all I have to sell is my time, my skill, and my talent. I do not charge clients for correcting errors I've made. No one is perfect, and mistakes are sometimes made, but I do proofread text and may suggest text changes to the client for their prior approval. However, I will charge the full fee if the work has been signed off (see What is your payment policy?). If you are an advertising agency or marketing firm, and you will be interacting with yoour client, please contact me for my agency rate. If I will be interacting with your client, you or the client (depending on our contract) will be charged my regular fee.
After so many years as a designer, I have a pretty good idea of how long something will take, and really, all you're paying is for my time and any expenses, like stock photos or fonts. I've tracked the time for each kind of project, and have a low end and high end, and I'll give you a nonbinding estimate based on that. If you prefer a project fee instead, I have to allow for the potential of more time than I anticipate, so I will take my highest time, and add 30% to estimated price. My clients generally like my hourly rate better, since they usually end up saving money. Let me know what works best for you. Upon final payment, I release all rights to you, since I have no desire to track someone's copyright usage.
If you spend a lot of time adjusting the design or content, or you'll have a committee making changes back and forth, please be advised this may raise your final fee considerably and substantially lengthen the time it takes to get your project done.
I do not work on speculation (“on spec”). Doing spec work is considered an unfair business practice for a variety of reasons, and both parties lose out when this principle is violated. A few reasons are that the artist may put in several hours’ worth of work and possibly not get paid for it, and the client will usually not receive the best design for their project because no time or money for adequate research has been allowed. Also, paying work will always take priority over spec work.
My portfolio is included on this site to give you an idea of what I can do, and I will have hard copies for you to review at the initial consultation if you ask for it before our meeting. I will also be happy to give you a list of references.
I’m an ad agency/marketing firm. How do I know you won’t try to take my clients if I give you a project?
Aside from this practice being unethical, I just don’t do business that way. I seek long-term relationships with my clients, not a one-night stand. Stealing clients is not conducive to that. I will not knowingly approach an agency client's clientele, and if approached, I will not do business with a company for at least a year after the last project I did for their agency. I am happy to include or sign a short-term (one year from the last date of payment) non-compete clause in my contract.
Based on my experience, I will estimate a price range for the total cost of a project. I require a nonrefundable deposit of 50% of the lower end of the estimate and a signed letter of agreement before work will begin. The client will be charged on an hourly basis (see above) and for applicable costs, and billed monthly until the project is completed and final payment has been received. The client will get a breakdown of hours spent on their project each month on the invoice. The initial deposit will be applied to the first charges. My letter of agreement spells this out in more detail.
Before any project goes to print, the client is required to sign off (approve) final art, press proofs, etc. This may be done via email. The client’s signature indicates that he/she has read the final copy carefully for errors and omissions, and acknowledges that the design and/or copy is ready to print/publish as is.
Despite many opportunities for both parties to review and correct the material, mistakes sometimes slip through. I advise the client to not only review final art, press proofs, etc., but to appoint another person within their organization to review those items, too, before approval. This is for our mutual protection. See also What are your rates?.
We abide by United States Copyright Law in all matters, and will not knowingly use graphics, photos, or text that do not belong to the client or designer. This is nonnegotiable, and we may ask for proof of ownership of materials. In the same way, if another client wanted to use art that belonged to you, we wouldn’t do it.
Current copyright law states that design (graphic or web design) is copyrighted from the moment it is created. A request for copyright does not have to be filed with the Copyright Office in order for the copyright to be effective. “Fair use” — the ability to use someone else’s work without their permission, has fairly strict guidelines. If you believe your work might fall under the “fair use” provision of copyright law, please discuss it with us first.
The project fee will include any fees for rights released to the client, and rights released will be stated in the letter of agreement. In all cases, and especially in cases where I don’t wish to retain any rights, the agreed-upon rights are automatically released to the client upon final payment of the project fee.
This section of the agreement gives me legal recourse if the client uses my materials without making final payment or without adequate rights.
I only release rights to final art, not to preliminary designs. I don't release rights to the code of a website, since most of it is fairly standard and/or in the public domain anyway. I reserve the right to show any and all work I do in my portfolio, either digitally or in print. I also reserve the right to enter a client’s work in any design competitions, unless doing so would create a conflict of interest for my client. If I do choose to enter a client’s work in a design competition(s), I will contact the client beforehand, and also contact them if their project should win any awards. Appropriate credit will be given to the client/client’s company. If an agency would prefer something different, please discuss it with me.
All other issues will be addressed in our letter of agreement.
The information above may be changed or amended at any time, without notice.
HOURS: MONDAY - THURSDAY, 9-5, CLOSED HOLIDAYS · BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
POB 11288 · San Bernardino, CA 92423 (I'm still in Redlands, CA)
909.799.7405 · Fax 888-676-7640