graphic artist guild

xmagnet-o  asked:

Do you have any advice for a recent college grad who has a degree in graphic design? where are the best places to look for an entry level job?

- If you haven’t already, make sure you have an online portfolio. If you don’t have the web skills, you can go really simple and just buy a $10 domain and set up a tumblr with your work on it. Don’t stress yourself out over having a “perfect” site. As long as it’s easy to get to and navigate, you’re fine. Less is more. 

- Create some cute business cards (with your portfolio link on there) and start handing them out! I use for all my promotional stuff. They’re affordable, have fast turn around and great quality. Think of every outing as a chance to pick up a freelance client or get a job. As they say, it’s not what you know, but who you know. 

- Go to as many professional networking events as possible to meet people and get job leads. Some places to look for networking events: your local chamber of commerce,, local POC groups, local LGBT groups, small business associations and women’s groups. Hit up Google with your city and the type of networking group you’re looking for. Once you go to one event, you’ll meet people who can suggest other groups worth checking out. Some have membership fees, but most will let you go to one or two events before joining or by paying a small entry fee.

- If you can afford it, join your local AIGA (American Institute Of Graphic Arts) to meet other designers, take classes, go to events and get job leads. I think the basic year membership is $50. They also have free non-member events, so check for those too. 

- Don’t under estimate the power of freelance! You can always take on a few clients while you’re looking for full time work. Put together a rate sheet that covers what type of work you can do (print, web, flyers, brochures etc) and how much you charge for each service. Make sure to always have a written contract with clients and ask for 50% up front and the remaining 50% once the project is complete. 

- Don’t work for free! Not even for friends and family. Your time and talent is valuable. Don’t give it away!

- Get the most recent edition of the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook Of Pricing And Ethical Guidelines so you have an idea of how to price your work AND get access to tons of free contract outlines to use with clients. Seriously, this book is everything. 

Here are some sites I’ve used to find graphic design work - - I think it’s around $35 for an account, but I know lots of people who’ve found work here, myself included. - you need a membership to see all the listings - this is a creative staffing agency, so they place people on jobs that can last anywhere from a few days, few weeks, months to full time. They send out tons of personalized daily job listings so there’s lots of opportunities to work if you’re willing to apply to as much as possible.

That’s pretty much it! Best of luck! 

As long as I’m on the subject of freelancing advice, let’s see if I can offer up any coherent tips on figuring out prices…

Ah yes, the age-old problem of what to charge. One way to make life easier is to figure out a general hourly rate that you can survive on. Then when considering a job, you can give a price or estimated price based on how many hours you think the job will take, multiplied by your standard hourly rate (give or take some adjustment per job as needed Sometimes you’ll want to charge more for extenuating circumstances, such as rush jobs.) You don’t have to tell the client your hourly rate if they’re expecting a flat fee, but you can use your hourly rate to figure out a suitable fee. Basically you want to make sure you don’t end up charging less than minimum wage when you divide the amount of time worked by the amount you’re paid, because that would suck.

When estimating the amount of hours a job will take, make sure to account for revisions (and you might want to also add a bit of time for unknown SNAFUs and project management, especially if you’re estimating something you haven’t done a lot of, or if you’re dealing with a new or inexperienced client.)

When you’re starting out, yes, you WILL underestimate some jobs and end up essentially going into unpaid overtime. You kind of have to accept this as a learning experience. Over time you’ll learn to make more accurate estimates.

Some types of clients have standard rates, especially publishers who work with a lot of illustrators, so it doesn’t hurt to just ask what their budget is before you start spouting off prices. This makes life a lot easier. (And if it turns out their budget is too small for comfort or if they don’t want to pay at all, you can then politely decline the job before getting too entangled.)


ALWAYS get a contract first, before you do any work, with all the deliverables clearly outlined, including the number of revisions for each. And make sure there’s a kill fee, in case they cancel the job when you’ve already done half the work. Also, if you’re really unsure of a client’s reliability, you might want a clause to say that final artwork will be delivered on final payment - and then don’t give them originals or high-res files until you’re paid. An alternative safety measure is to split the payment up into milestones - so much on delivery of sketches, so much on delivery of finals, etc. Then if they slip one payment, you can halt the job midway if necessary until things are sorted out.

DO NOT accept any clause saying that payment will be “on publication”. Those clauses are horrible. It means if the client fails to publish for whatever reason, or delays publication for months or years, then you don’t get paid for your work. This is bad.

If a job is really nebulous in terms of what needs to be delivered and how revisions are handled, charging by the hour might be the way to go, depending on what you can negotiate with the client. Some clients prefer a fixed rate for the job, or a fixed rate per item, but sometimes you can compromise with hourly rates and a price cap - for instance, say you’ll charge X per hour up to $10,000 (or whatever amount,) and if the job isn’t done in $10,000 worth of your time then you negotiate more hours.

Note that clients who frequently work with artists usually have a standard contract, so you won’t have to write your own contract for these clients. However, you should look their contracts over for loopy clauses, and don’t be afraid to ask for changes if necessary.

For less experienced clients, you’ll probably have to provide your own contract (after explaining to the client that you can’t work without a contract.) The Graphic Artists Guild book in the last post is what I usually use for standard contract forms.


One way to figure out a general hourly rate for yourself is to figure out your living expenses and the costs of freelancing (supplies, phone/internet, mailing, conventions, whatever other expenses you have,) and then figure out how much you need to make per week to cover that, assuming a standard 40-hour work week, and then divide by 40 for a ballpark hourly rate. You could also work backwards from how much you need to make per year to survive, but that’s a lot of math.

Actually, don’t just cover your living expenses, make sure you have enough profit left over for emergencies and living in a civilized manner. As you get experience and your work is worth more, or if your expenses go up, you’ll probably want to start upping those rates.

Of course, then it’s up to you to actually GET enough work to survive on… But that’s a whole other complicated topic!


Thank you to all for the warm reception of last weeks important facebook note and blog post titled “YOUR RIGHTS AS A DESIGNER (KILL FEES)”. Due to the overwhelming response via text, email, and the LIKES on Facebook, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a followup on the KILL FEES clause that all designers have a right to provide in their contracts and agreements. In all of FUTURE AMAZING’s contracts and agreements, we provide a clause that all EARLY (literally in caps) cancellations and / or terminations will incur a 50% KILL FEE. Now this is very clear, and understood, that in essence if you cancel or terminate the project for reasons not in our control, we will bill you 50% of the total sum of the project, which usually based on payment structure, allows us to keep your deposit provided, which usually ranges from 25-50%.

Now I am going to take this time to provide the exact details of what a KILL FEE is as stated by the prestigious organization The Graphic Artists Guild (GAG):

“KILL / CANCELLATION FEE: If a project is canceled for reasons beyond the control of the graphic artist, the project is considered "killed.” Typical charges for services rendered can be 25 to 50 percent if the work is killed during the initial sketch stage, 50 percent if killed after the completion of the sketch stage, and 100 percent if killed after the final design is completed. ‘REJECTION’ is used when an assignment is canceled due to client dissatisfaction. Perhaps the final art deviates from the agreed upon sketch or the style is different from the artist’s portfolio or samples shownto obtain the job. Common cancellation fees are one-third of the total fee if canceled before completion of final art, and 50 to 100 percent after the final artwork is completed. Determining whether a job is killed or rejected may become a matter of common sense and negotiation. Both the graphic artist and the client need to realistically evaluate the causes for terminating the project and negotiate payment accordingly. Contracts should provide a clear directive that the client, in killing or canceling the project, gives up agreed-upon copyright transfer. Any future use is subject to renegotiation.“ -———————————————————————-

I hope this provides a better and clearer understanding of the KILL FEE clause and how it is a very important tool developed to help all us creatives, whether freelance or running a small to medium sized business, we all deserve to be protected. In conclusion I also wanted to bring up the importance of the last paragraph, and how it touches upon COPYRIGHT. It is a fact, that upon the completion and full compensation for any project, the client retains copyright to the work. Now if that client decides to KILL, REJECT, CANCEL or TERMINATE the project, and does not pay you in full, they do not, and I repeat, DO NOT RETAIN THE RIGHTS TO THE COPYRIGHT of your work. COPYRIGHTS are not transferred over to projects that are not paid in full — this is a topic I will definitely share with all you creatives very soon. As a reminder, I am here to help in any way I can, whether it be a simple design question, assistance in a critique, creative conflict with a client, or anything that involves business or creative issues; you can reach out to me anytime - until then PROTECT YOURSELF NOW, PROTECT YOURSELF ALWAYS!


Juan Marqus Aycart - Founder / Creative Director