Derek Brazell’s Advice on Fees

Sun 10 Apr 2016 by Amy_Rogers

Derek Brazell from the Association of Illustrators (AOI) presented an excellent talk to BIG members on 31st March. He advised us about pricing commissions based on client profiles (e.g. are they a big or small organisation), usage of the artwork, territory it will be published in (e.g. UK, Europe, Worldwide etc), duration, deadline, budget/fee and expenses. He recommended approaching the client/commissioner for this information if they had not already provided it. This demonstrates your professionalism, accuracy and actual market value. It makes clients consider actual uses as opposed to potential usage. It also allows for additional negotiations and fees for additional usages.

Licenses and copyright
Derek advised illustrators to issue a ‘usage license’ to a client that sets out exactly what the illustration is for, how it can be used and confirms that the illustrator owns the copyright. He also advised us to think very carefully before signing copyright away. Once someone has it they can use your artwork for anything – copyright literally means ‘the right to copy’ or reproduce, therefore your copyright has a value. If a client does want to purchase the copyright then an illustrator should charge an additional fee for this. The type of fee would largely depend on the value of the initial illustration fee and what the client intends to do with the artwork. A usage licence is something you as an illustrator can determine and negotiate with your client.

Illustration fees are often partly determined by the type of work you are doing and the type of client you are working for. For example, editorial illustrations for magazines tend to pay at the lower end of the market, book illustration (covers and inside illustrations) pay more and artwork for advertising campaigns can command much higher fees. Derek recommended never under-pricing your work as this undermines you and the illustration industry as a whole. Plus, clients don’t necessarily choose the cheapest option. Presenting with confidence and professionalism can help as much as the artwork itself. Derek recommends offering clients a menu of prices for different options if they are not clear about how they want to use the artwork. This way your figure doesn’t appear to have been plucked from the air and they appreciate what you are offering them. When composing licenses it is very important to get as much information as you can about the nature of the project, such as: how the artwork will be used, will it be used just locally and seen by relatively few people (e.g. in one city) or is it being published in multiple countries, size of the print run or duration of the license (how long can they use the artwork for, e.g. a UK Licence for up to 1 Year for a Printed Postcard or a max print run of 5,000 postcards).

Some common examples:

  • Consumer Magazine – Medium Circulation: £230-£250 per illustration (up to quarter page)
  • Adult Fiction Cover – Flat Fee - £800-£1000 (UK & Commonwealth Licence for Period of Copyright)
  • Advertising for a large snack Company - £6500-£7000 (UK Licence for up to 1 Year for all Print and Digital)

Not surprisingly there were lots and lots of questions for Derek and we could have gone on for another whole meeting’s worth, but thank you to everyone who attended and helped make it such a successful meeting and for your time and wisdom, Derek!
To find out more about the Association of Illustrators and how they support members and the profession generally, you can visit their website here:

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