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question on selling designs

updated wed 28 feb 01


Cindy Romanski on mon 26 feb 01


I have been approached to make lamp bases for a small tile company that would make my designs and then sell them to a large handmade lamp shade company.  The lampshade company is the foremost in the country on handmade shades; I have researched them and they seem like a wonderful company doing great things.  They mostly sell their lampshades and accompanying bases to interior designers.  The tile company is local and are just getting off the ground.  They have never before tried anything like this and aren't able to answer any questions for me.  My concerns are that if I sell a design for a flat fee and that design really takes off and they sell a million of them than I will end up screwing myself out of a share of that profit.  I have never done this and am wary because of various horror stories I have heard from other potters and designers.  I am also completely naive about the laws on something like this.  Some of the forms are ones tha
t they have requested and some of them would be of my own design. 

Any input would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks in advance,  Cindy Romanski

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Cindy Strnad on mon 26 feb 01

Hi, Cindy.

As this company is small, and new, and needs you to tell them what to do =
.. . . well, you could just tell them what you want, couldn't you? After =
all, it's their project. Seems like they could do the research to see =
what the customary fees are for this sort of work.

Based on publishing, I would say a lump sum advance against royalties, =
then a percentage on sales, if they go over the level of the advance. =
You could charge them hourly for the design work, if they don't need to =
know up front. I think it's likely you haven't got much of an idea how =
much time this is going to take you, either.=20

Probably, though, you're going to need to come up with an estimate. If =
you do, estimate on the high side. It's almost certain to take you =
longer than you expect.

Sounds like a lot of fun. Best wishes, and I hope they sell out again =
and again.

Cindy Strnad
Earthen Vessels Pottery
RR 1, Box 51
Custer, SD 57730

Terrance Lazaroff on mon 26 feb 01

Cindy Romanski

Your concerns are real. I spoke with a friend of mine and he =
suggested that when presented with something like this it may be worth =
while working as a design consultant. He suggest going to local =
universities that teach industrial design and find out the going yearly =
salery of an experienced industrial designer in the home design field. =
Take the salery and convert it to ah hourly rate bu simply removing =
three zeros form the yearly figure. For example $60,000.00 a year =
equates to $60.00. Hire your self out as a design consultant and give =
an estimate of the time it will take to make your designs. If you are =
good the company will come back. Maybe they will ask you to work full =
time. =20

If you work as a consultant you could realise some tax breaks on your =
revenues that would otherwise be questioned.

This is just one suggestion. I am sure there are many more to come.

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Joseph Herbert on tue 27 feb 01

In the US, the work year is considered to be 2000 hours, if you give
yourself a two week vacation (unpaid). 2080 if you don't. For that $60,000
per year, you need to get about $30.00 per hour - if you work a whole year.

Most consultants can only work about 1/2 time and must market themselves the
other half. In this case, the $60.00 figure is about right but you have to
force yourself to find that next contract while this one is still producing
income. The two things can require very different skill sets and attitudes.
One reason not many last in consulting work.

Things must be lots better in Canada. I may have to move.

Joseph Herbert