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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dealing with Deadlines


The term “deadline” refers back to the Civil War when prisoners were kept in prisoner of war camps with little food and clothing to provide for them and tents for shelter.  Inside the fort walls, some 17 feet from the wall, a shallow trench, no more than a line was drawn around the perimeter.  Anyone who crossed the line could and would be shot, even if they only tripped over the line by accident: therefore a deadline not to be crossed.
Illustration for Orphaned Baby Elephant story book

When working as a freelance artist, I have had lots of deadlines to face.  It works best when I break these time frames down and bit and deliver a timetable of expectations before the work begins.  That way I know exactly when the roughs are due, the revised sketches and the final art is expected in the hands of the art director.  Going over the deadline should be written into the contract as a penalty time when money can be deducted from the price for paid to me.  Conversely, when the client asks for more changes past a certain date, I should be able to ask for more compensation because a deadline has already passed.  This only makes good business sense to cover the client and myself.

Illustration for Mr Sticky (the snail) story book

The problem here is that a freelance artist is working for himself/herself and has no one to back him up.  We tend to get really timid when it comes to asking for more money because a client changes his mind and asks for more changes past the deadline.  We are artists; we just eat the loss.  But a client would not hesitate to ask for the reverse and get a discount if I did not meet a deadline.  It seems unprofessional to me not to ask for the compensation I am due according to a contract.  This is why contracts are so important. 


I have to say that the best purchase I ever made was the Graphic Artist Guild Handbook Pricing & Ethical Guidelines.  It has everything and every contract and clause a freelance artist could ever need.  I have referred to this handbook a number of times and used the contract forms over and over, tweaking them just a bit to fit my circumstances and needs.  The book includes prices and contracts for illustrators, cartoonists, photographers, videographers, graphic design, web design, animators and more.  It is the go-to guide for legal and technological advice of all kinds.