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Paying my Graphic Artist

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chazhall1337
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Joined: 02/28/2010

I'm approaching full release of my game in 2012, 1st quarter but I'm struggling with how much to pay my artist per set sold. We've decided to do this due to lack of initial capital.

The games will be produced at about $6 a set and sold for $24.99. She discussed possibly receiving $3 per game sold.

I am looking at a cap in the overall profit on her end, around $8-10k. However, $3 per game is ludicrous considering operating costs and I am managing the business and design side.

What is a reasonable amount of a game that I should pay my graphic artist? What should the cap be?

Consider she has done all the photoshopping for the game and designed the overall layout and feel of the game.

Thank you for all your input!

lodus
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Joined: 10/22/2011
What about $2 per game?

What about $2 per game? that's about 35%. Keep in mind that agreeing to do the art without initial payment is pretty brave since she wouldn't know if the game would be finished, sell well, etc.

bonsaigames
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Pre-negotiated?!?

How was this not negotiated ahead of time? For your protection and hers you should always have a contract detailing what will be paid and how and when.

Now that you are in this situation, you're going to have to come to a mutually agreeable amount. I suggest negotiating a percentage (royalty) of net profit paid on a quarterly basis.

Hope that helps,
Levi Mote
Bonsai Entertainment
www.bonsaigames.net

truekid games
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I will second being shocked

I will second being shocked that you didn't negotiate this before the work was done. That's an error on both ends. I also agree that I would aim at a % of the PROFIT you make, paid periodically (monthly, quarterly, or yearly).

chazhall1337
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I appreciate the replies

I appreciate the replies guys. It was agreed we would discuss financials after the fact. We both agreed that I'm running the business side and she was also willing to do the work considering the market for the game. $2 a game sounds about right, but should there be a cap?

There will be multiple expansions for the game starting mid 2012 and I'm trying to decide the lifespan of the royalties on the game itself, since it's a TCG.

bonsaigames
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Buy it outright

If you can afford it, just buy the work outright for a negotiated price.

Royalties can be negotiated for a specified period of time or in perpetuity (forever).

As far as $8k - $10k goes, at $2 a pop you'd need to sell 4K - 5K units. This is pretty ambitious for your first time out.

SilentFury
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I wouldn't bother with a cap.

I wouldn't bother with a cap. You're unlikely to hit one, and if you do so well that you would hit any reasonable-sounding cap she may as well reap the benefits since she'll have contributed to making those sales.

MondaysHero
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Joined: 07/08/2011
Increased Scale Royalties

In order to convince your artist to take less at first (as you want your initial print run to not only pay for itself, but also for future print runs, and other games) you could offer her a scaling royalty. Say she gets $1 on each one for the first 3000, then $1.50 for the next 2000, then $2 for the next 1000 and so on. Obviously built it as best you can for you. This also shows her that the better work she does, and thus, may increase the sales, will mean more money for her.
My two cents anyway

chazhall1337
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Scaling Profit

So I was reading some of the posts here and they all make a lot of sense. Selling 4k units won't be a problem. I've already got multiple venues to sell at as well as specialists stores. But here's the catch:

What I sell on my website will be around $24.99 to $29.99.

The teams that sell the product will be able to purchase the game at about $10 a game and resell at $24.99 or $29.99.

So obviously $2.00 a game on a large order isn't reasonable.

My idea was to pay her $2 per game from website sells and personal sells done at conventions and events.

For the retail sells, since they got a discount for order bulk, I can't fully decide on what to pay her, considering I'd be selling them in mass for $10. I also can't determine how many should be ordered in order to receive the $10 per game discount.

Ideas?

Geikamir
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Just scale it

So if the artist is getting 2 bucks at $25... with the game selling for 10 bucks, the commission would be like $ .80.

SilentFury
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See if she'll go for a

See if she'll go for a percentage of the total profits. That'll take care of all these issues along with your operating costs and ensure that you both make money.

JaffetC
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sketches is one thing, full

sketches is one thing, full art plus the templete design of your game. You have to ask your self, "how much is the art in my game worth?"

Why do i say that? because be honest in knowing the amount of time and work that went into making the product. You may have designed the game, but if you had to go around hunting for artists in order to create each individual piece, then find another person that can do the layout and type setting, at $3 a unit while sounding large, is not that bad.

just put into consideration that the print per unit cost + the cost of the art is the total you are paying for the game.

if that comes out to only $5 dollars, you should be selling the game resonable at about 30-35, because that gives places like, Funagaingames and so forth to sell it at a resonable discount price, which would make your game still cost 24-30 dollars.

i agree in stating that your bold in stating you can make the sells you believe you can make, especially on a TCG. games like Redakai are having problems specifically because its a TCG. Your competing against giants such as Wizards of the Coast and Konami in terms of TCG. If you aren't Alderac and mind you, even they have little support towards legend of the five rings, you are going to have a bit of a problem making the sells you think you are going to make.

By any chance are you a statician or business major? because unless you are and outright now the future of the gaming economics and so forth, your shooting rather high sir. Not ragging on you, we all hope for the best we are all aspiring designers and so forth and you know, good luck to each and everybody but the way i see it, your envisioning making more money that is reasonable, you fear that you cannot handle giving up $3 a unit to your artist, and while there may not be a contractual agreement at the moment, remember the artist still retains their rights. Even while packaged at the moment. The verbal agreement was that you would come to a decision upon finishing the work, you are at that step, and unfortunately this isn't the time to play "Donald Trump" and attempt to burn bridges because it can turn out bad. My suggestion would be that you rethink your business model come to a reasonable conclusion based on this model, write the contract have it signed and start getting ready to run the course of the game.

yes, there are some artists that will do work based on resume, but those are far and few... Overall, just come to a reasonable agreement, dont see it at, "im paying the artist based on msrp" see it as, "im including the artist pay within the MSRP.

that way it doesnt "feel" as if though you are at a loss.

chazhall1337
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I appreciate all of that,

I appreciate all of that, really and it brings a lot of sense. The issue though isn't the money, it's the overall share of the business. What I'm trying to determine is based on the sets released, how much should be given to the artist. $3 with a high end cap on the Starter Sets, isn't that terrible. When booster sets, which one is already in the works for the release, get pushed out, that's when things get a little confusing.

As far as rights, part of the agreement is artwork will be handed over to the LLC as it's property as part of the per unit contract. No bridges being burned. I want what is fair for her and my company.

Thanks for all the input guys and I think this all helps greatly!

JaffetC
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chazhall1337 wrote:I

chazhall1337 wrote:
I appreciate all of that, really and it brings a lot of sense. The issue though isn't the money, it's the overall share of the business. What I'm trying to determine is based on the sets released, how much should be given to the artist. $3 with a high end cap on the Starter Sets, isn't that terrible. When booster sets, which one is already in the works for the release, get pushed out, that's when things get a little confusing.

As far as rights, part of the agreement is artwork will be handed over to the LLC as it's property as part of the per unit contract. No bridges being burned. I want what is fair for her and my company.

Thanks for all the input guys and I think this all helps greatly!

even packs have a set number of prints, What i would look at is how many of each art piece you will be printing, each one is considered 1 unit. in which case if the packs are being sold for only $4, then you would pay the artist an equivalent of that when looked upon $40 dollars.

so lets say that a starter is going to be charged at $40, and she takes $3 from each of those units, a pack would be you keeping 92.5%, so she is only getting 7.5% of per unit. If you agree to that, she receives $.30 for each pack.

considering that packs are sold on a Box / Case basis, you have to put into consideration, that the box will probably be sold at $80, a box with 36 packs @ $4 per pack is $144.00, so if you sell your boxes at $80, it will feel as though she is making a lot more money, because you are giving too much of a discount? lets say... because out of 36 packs she is only making $10.80, so if you sell your box at 80, and she is getting 10.80 out of it, then you are only making $69.20 per unit. before putting the cost of printing... lets say each unit actually costs you $.35 to produce. then you need to subtract another $12.60 so each box would cost you a total of $23.40 and if you sell at $80, then your net profit is 56.60 per unit.

@ 10,000 = $566,000.00 to you, $3,500.00 for them, and $3,000.00

even though the numbers favor you, If you pay the artist the money upfront for the expected sales you have the potential of being at a "loss" because you are depending on selling 10,000 units(Boxes) or 366,000 packs. However the odds that you will be paying $.35 per pack may not be too likely, however, If she does receive 7.5% on a per unit she still doesn't make as much as you do. That is of course if we are translating $3 into a percentage. No matter what way you look at it, 7.5% can be either really little, or a good substantial amount, however it doesn't compare to the 92.5% that you are making...

Art can cost you a pretty penny, that is true, however in terms of business you are in it for the profit. There is really no escaping it, you want what is most beneficial to your self, so if you break everything down in terms of percentages you will soon see that you do make a substantial more, HOWEVER, your profit is only IF you sell everything, while hers would be an immediate gain.

Similar to how the cost of intellectual properties work, they ask for money upfront, if you call up lets say Funimation, and ask to acquire the Dragon Ball Z property, they need to know what is your expect amount of money. Then they will give a percentage and if you agree to that term, you must pay upfront with if any expected future profits falling on the already established percentile.

Overall, this is a tricky situation, I've read about how Wizards of the Coast dropped the ball the first go around and was handing out 6 figure checks to artists. Art is art, and 6 figures for a small piece of art that probably took 8-10 hours seems a bit crazy. I personally know artists that will charge an Hourly rate, and a lot of them do not reach 4 figures let alone 6.

Good luck with your situation though, and good luck once your game comes out.

lewpuls
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Royalties for art? Surely not.

I'm very surprised at the idea that any game publisher pays royalties for art. Most artists are accustomed to "work for hire", and no publisher is going to want to pay the ones who want royalties.

Further, if average designer royalties are 5% of revenue (not profit), you certainly aren't going to pay more than that to an artist, unless the game is really art and not a game.

40% distributor purchase for a $25 game would be $10, 5% would be 50 cents.

You seem to be talking about something entirely different than royalties, I don't know that anyone here can know enough about the situation to suggest what would be fair.

MondaysHero
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Royalties for Art? Munchkin

If the Art IS the game, as in Munchkin, there would be no doubt that Kovalic is getting royalties for his work with Steve Jackson Games. But I do understand the point. Often you need to ask yourself, especially, if the game is one of your first, is it worth offering a bigger slice in the pie for art that will carry the game in the homes of people everywhere. Yes, we're in this to design a good board game, but we're also in this so we can finish one game, and move onto the next one. Take a look at many games in bigger companies, such as Small World. GREAT game, but the Art is what seals the deal. Don't recall how many college aged girls walked into a game store I hung out at and said "Oh! That's cute! Let's play!" and the guys with them said "Fine with us!" and those girls are gaming now, playing games. That is a game that would be worth selling roalties on (had I been on the production comittee for that game.)

InvisibleJon
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Take a step back and assess your costs and MSRP...

Howdy,

SilentFury wrote:
I wouldn't bother with a cap. You're unlikely to hit one, and if you do so well that you would hit any reasonable-sounding cap she may as well reap the benefits since she'll have contributed to making those sales.
...and...
SilentFury wrote:
See if she'll go for a percentage of the total profits. That'll take care of all these issues along with your operating costs and ensure that you both make money.
First off, I strongly agree with both of these points. This is good, simple, and direct advice.

Art is very important. I (and others) have said time and time again that art is what sells your game. Your mechanics do not sell your game. Mechanics keep people coming back to your game, but the art is what attracts and engages them. This is especially true for CCGs (like yours).

chazhall1337 wrote:
I'm struggling with how much to pay my artist per set sold.

The games will be produced at about $6 a set and sold for $24.99. She discussed possibly receiving $3 per game sold.

I am looking at a cap in the overall profit on her end, around $8-10k. However, $3 per game is ludicrous considering operating costs and I am managing the business and design side.

(The above quote was edited slightly.)

In agreements I've created with other collaborators, the payback plan looks like this:

1) 100% of revenue goes to pay back investors (the entities that fronted the $$ to produce the game).
2) Once investors are paid (with interest) revenue is split among the following:
* The project itself (so it can invest in itself to cover future printings and/or expansions)
* The company (so it can continue operating)
* The various individuals on the team that created the project (according to what they contributed)

Setting the percentages in that latter part is the tricky part of all this, of course.

You want to be fair to your artist while ensuring that you and your business venture are also fairly compensated. The artist wants fair compensation too, of course. If you feel that the artist's requested compensation is too high and the artist will not reduce their compensation request (When you have this conversation, I recommend being very open with costs (production, sustaining the business) so your artist understands where you're coming from.), you have the option of changing the sale price. (ie: If the cost to produce to product and sustain the venture are not covered by sale of the product, even after trimming as much as possible, consider raising the price.)

I have more to say, but I've been crafting this post off and on for the past three days. Time to post it and move on to something else.

I wish you the best of luck in your venture. I hope you get everything out of it that you're hoping for.

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