It's my first time on this forum, and after viewing some of your comments I now have a question of my own!
Brilliantly (and finally!!) I've been commissioned to complete 3 watercolours by the author of a childrens book. My question is this, does he then own the original paintings or just an image of these paintings. My husband raised this further question, if the book goes bonkers (Harry Potter Stylee) and the author decides to produce merchandise if I don't own the original would I receive any income from the sales?!! Having never had anything to do with publishing I am completely clueless about what's the norm here.
I've been an illustrator for a while (since 2007), doing freelance work from home. Previously when I have been commissioned for a painting/illustration I have sold the original to the client, just keeping a scanned image for myself and my folio.
If anyone could let me know what is normal here I'd really appreciate it!!
Hey Josie, I suggest you go out and get the Graphic Artist Guild Handbook. It has lots of sample contracts for specific illustration works and although the price guides are a little inflated, it's been a life saver for me contract-wise. I don't have mine with me at the moment so this is from memory but here's how I understand it...
Regarding your rights, it's the norm for you to license the rights to the image for a specific use, ie. as a book cover. You should retain the physical copy and just handing over scans, or if they're doing the scans, it is a reasonable request to have the hard copy returned to you.
Any further uses of the illustration such as merch etc will require a new agreement and a new payment to you for the use. And it will have a set time period as well.
A side note, when you sell the physical version of a painting, you still retain all copyrights and moral rights, unless this was specifically mentioned in the sale. I know that if someone has a license to produce merchandise of the Harry Potter films they can't use the book covers because the copyright to the illustrations are still owned by the illustrator, not Warner Bros.
Another invaluable resource is Matt Archambault from Drawing Tutorials Online. He made his living off book covers for years and is very helpful to members on his site with these sorts of questions.
I used to work for a publisher of small children's books and we had this question a lot. We had a contract with each illustrator for the use of their illustrations for use in the book and promotional items for that book only. I.e: all uses for that illustration was to sell the book, not other products such as merch. We also scanned the original artwork and sent it back to the illustrators. You should ALWAYS retain your originals.
If they want to produce merch than that's another story requiring another contract. I would assume you would receive royalties for this but have not had experience in this area.
When I commission illustrators for book design I negotiate USAGE rights, so the client (publisher) only has the rights to use the work for agreed output (book and marketing) for an agreed time and an agreed market (Australia only). Anything further to this requires renegotiation and addition usage fee.
I do the same for my book cover designs with some publishers - others it's a condition of the brief that you assign them all copyright for the final product (but not my intellectual property, like original concepts and native files).