Terms & Conditions

by Jessica Wynne Lockhart

May 31, 2017


"Inside YouTube's Controversial Contract with Indies," Sebastien Thibault. Editorial Section Illustration - Single, Illustration Awards 2015

Photographers, illustrators and production personnel are indeed artists, but they’re also contracted suppliers. From negotiating rates to protecting your intellectual property, here’s how to navigate the buyer’s market


For photographers and illustrators, there’s no question that increased connectivity has helped to build and maintain strong business relationships. Canadian motion artists can work with advertising agencies in Europe, photographers are hired based on their Instagram followers, and illustrators can send their high-resolution sketches to magazine editors in just minutes. Work for both creative suppliers and buyers is happening at a faster pace and more collaboratively than ever before.


Yet when Djanka Gajdel first started working as an agent over three decades ago, representing photographers in Toronto, she faced a lot less red tape—and considerably less paperwork.


“A handshake was pretty much how it went down,” recalls Gajdel, a board member for the local and national chapters of the Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators (CAPIC), which advocates for its membership of photographers and illustrators. “There would be the odd contract, but the understanding on both sides was very simple, because it was analogue.”


With both parties having a clear understanding of what was being commissioned and how it was going to be used, there was little to no need for extensive paperwork.


All that changed with the introduction of digital media. Now, it’s more difficult for buyers to discern the number of eyeballs on an advertisement—and the corresponding value of a piece of artwork. Whereas a piece of commissioned creative may once have been used solely for one print campaign, buyers are now using the same images across a variety of platforms, including on social media.


Christine Roy, an illustrator who sits on Illustration Quebec’s board of directors, says that this is when licensing issues—and rightful compensation for work—can become muddied, damaging the supplier-buyer relationships in the process.


“Sometimes a client just wants one specific usage and then afterwards—whoops—they want to do the whole campaign with different collateral using the same illustration. When it’s not clear from the get-go, it might get confusing for both parties,” she says.


Creative suppliers, or creators, compete in the global marketplace and, as freelancers, often work in a vacuum, so standards within the industry can vary widely. For both the artists and their clients, each part of a project—from managing production schedules to copyright to budgets—can be an entirely new experience, every time.


To read more about contract negotiations, project management and copyright, pick up the May/June issue of Applied Arts, on newsstands now. Or pick up a digital copy here


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