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Graphic artist charges

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Greg Ball
Graphic artist charges
on Mar 7, 2009 at 8:32:38 pm

I hired a freelance graphic artist to create a series of animations for a project i worked on. That was back in November. I few weeks ago I contacted him to say we need to revise some of the graphics because the client's company had restructured. He called me to tell me that his hard drive crashed and he can't recover the original files. So he'll have to charge me the same price as he originally did. I know my client will not want to pay the same price in full, and I'm not sure that the graphic artist should be charging me so much again. Any thoughts on what I should tell him?

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Nick Griffin
Re: Graphic artist charges
on Mar 7, 2009 at 9:40:35 pm

I'd tell him that as a working professional it's part of his JOB to archive his WORK so something as routinely predictable as a hard drive crash doesn't take away his work product.

You may need him and may have to negotiate to get the project back on track, but in a proper business environment the idea of you or your client having to pay a 2nd time for something HE LOST is absurd.

Hard drives are rated MTBF - Mean Time Between Failure. It's never a question of IF one will fail, rather WHEN. A 5 year MTBW means that half of that particular model will fail before 5 years and half after. Anybody who doesn't live with some reliable form of back-up is under-informed or an idiot, waiting to get what he deserves.

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David Roth Weiss
Re: Graphic artist charges
on Mar 7, 2009 at 9:50:50 pm

I think this one is a no-brainer Greg.

Very politely tell him that you enjoyed working with him. Let him know that you had been looking for someone reliable to handle that end of your business. Then, tell him in no uncertain terms, that if he doesn't assume responsibility for the loss of the original files, that you'll take the project to someone who is reliable, who'll easily be able to copy his design. And, let him know he'll never work with you again.

David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.

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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Graphic artist charges
on Mar 7, 2009 at 10:01:35 pm

If someone told me this, I would -- as Nick and David have already stated -- tell him that he is neither a professional nor a man likely to survive long in this business due to having absolutely no measurable standard of integrity in his business. Not only did he fail both you and your client, as well as himself, by having no back-up in place, but he assumes no responsibility for that. That is business idiocy, without a doubt.

Now, he can either grow up and pull his thumb out of his mouth and deal with the situation, or he can act like a child and say that you have to eat the job as he has already stated. If he stands by this posture, go away as fast as you can and leave this idiot to self-destruct as you will never be able to put weight on them. They will always be unreliable. And stupid.

As Bob Zelin would say: and anyone that wants to agree with this guy is just as stupid and needs their business to die, too.

You may have to eat part of this and take responsibility for it to keep your client. If you do, choke down the bitter lesson willingly and -- to quote Faromir in the Lord of the Rings -- show your quality.

This is the kind of stuff that separates the men from the boys.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

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Rich Rubasch
Re: Graphic artist charges
on Mar 8, 2009 at 2:52:59 am

If it's any consolation...and I agree with everyone else here....if he has to rebuild everything from scratch, at least he has done it before and it shouldn't take nearly as long as it did to create the original designs. the client was willing to pay for the revisions because it was their change that prompted the job. So determine what you would have paid the designer if you had the original project files, add in 20-30% and see if your client will bite on that estimate.

Then propose that amount to the designer, give him/her a good slap on the hands and get on with your life.

I think there are ways to deal with this fairly reasonably. I have many projects backed up on Hard drives and DVDs. It is certainly possible that we could lose elements. I would not assume to charge any client all over again for the job.

Hope it works out.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media

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Bob Bonniol
Re: Graphic artist charges
on Mar 9, 2009 at 6:36:22 am

Well... Like I do from time to time... Some devil's advocacy here:

Why was it the graphic designer's responsibility to keep the active files ? We're talking MONTHS gone by here right ?

Sometimes hard drive failure happens. A business operating on thin margins may be doing the right (and costly thing) of off site redundant backup... Or maybe they aren't.

I don't unless you pay me. Now I make that easy for clients by not giving them an option to refuse. I build in the charge for the redundant external drives, one of which goes in the closet, the other of which goes to the storage space. Projects that are deemed likely to continue (or clients that actually engage us to maintain their media) also get the courtesy of scheduled drive spin ups, and media migration.

But I have plenty of sub contractors who do work for me, and I DO NOT COUNT ON THEM to harbor my media. I take on that responsibility. Some of my best people are like savants... They can whip up fly shiz all day long, but can't organize their way out of a paper bag... Here's my harsh judgement: Where's YOUR backup ? Did you REALLY buy graphics work from somebody and NOT get some form of mastering format ?

If you were coming back with creative notes within the month, maybe even within 60 days, I'd say you might have some reasonable expectation of them keeping it on hand... Beyond that and holding a person responsible is dicey.

Besides it sounds like this guy maybe suffered some "force majeur"...

All of that aside, If I was the dude, I'd try to cut you SOME kind of rate, if only to keep the relationship intact.



MODE Studios
Contributing Editor, Entertainment Design Magazine
Art of the Edit Forum Leader
Live & Stage Event Forum Leader
HD Forum Leader

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Greg Ball
all is good
on Mar 9, 2009 at 8:34:37 pm

Thanks all for your responses. The artist agreed to do the job for 1/2 price. I would say that's a concession on both of our parts. I've always found him to be honest and professional, so I couldn't understand his original quote.

To Bob's question, is it his responsibility to keep the files? I don't know the answer there. I would hope that he would give me the option of sending him a hard drive. But doesn't that fall into the category of who owns his files? Just like I don't want to turn over raw footage to a client, I imagine most artists don't want to do that either.

Anyway thanks to you all for your advice. This is a tremendous board on the cow!

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Mike Cohen
Re: all is good
on Mar 9, 2009 at 8:39:28 pm

I am late to this thread. I assume that a paying client may come back for another go 'round with a project, if it is not a one-off type of project. If a client is a good one who routinely gives me more business, it is in my interest to keep all of their assets organized and secure.
Obviously every vendor has his/her own standards.

I once e-mailed my narrator about some work he did for me several years earlier, and he had actually backed up his work and uploaded replacement files rather quickly.

Not long ago, as written in a recent blog post, I had a hard drive fail. The one project I needed was lost. I had a partial backup of the premiere project, and a WMV of the final, backed up elsewhere. In anticipation of the client's eventual return, I took the time to rebuild the project back to its most recent incarnation. That is good business, in my opinion.

Sounds like Greg got a good arrangement for redress of his grievances.

Mike Cohen

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Todd Terry
Re: all is good
on Mar 9, 2009 at 8:59:46 pm

It's our goal here to keep everything forever... and we are pretty good about it. That's not to say that sometimes things "just happen" though... a data DVD might prove corrupt, a drive fail... and sometimes for some reason you just "can't find something," no matter how carefully it's archived, backed up, and cataloged.

We have always tried to keep materials saved (going back 12 years now), but honestly I've never felt it was my responsibility to do so, we just did it mostly out of convenience for ourselves. Nor did we ever charge for the service.

In fact, in one corner of our least-used suite still sits our very first NLE... a behemoth DPS Perception system in a gigantic Windows NT tower, that cost half as much as my house at the time (remember those days?). Still works. And we still keep it around because nothing else will read the super-proprietary Perception .pvd files that were the mainstays of our first couple of years in business. And yes, on occasion we still have to fire up that bad boy to retrieve some long-forgotten video.

However lately after years of burning countless archival data DVDs that take up space on the shelf, we are now archiving all projects onto drives... identical copies of each completed project goes onto two redundant 1TB eSata drives... which go on the shelf when they are filled. Since we started doing this, we do now charge an "archival and storage" fee. It's not much, but enough to cover the additional expense we now have of buying lots of drives. So I guess now we do feel a little more "responsible" for it.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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