Ask: Designing for Manufacturer Without Meeting Face to Face

Hello all,

I am a new freelance product designer based in Asia and have a portfolio website. Recently I was contacted by Italian manufacturer and they said that they wanted me to design new collection for them with royalty based contract. I asked them if they could work with advance against royalties or commission and they agree. The problem is, I don’t have the budget to go to Europe and meet them directly at their office. If I agree to work with them, then all process and communication will be done via email.

My questions are:

  • Should I take this opportunity without ever meeting them directly? We will sign the contract but we will never know if one of us break the rules in the future.
  • If it is alright, how much commission or advance payment should I ask? I know the standard in my country but not sure in Italy.
  • Is it alright to ask them to provide the transportation and accommodation if they tell me to go to their office in Italy?

Any comment and advice would be very appreciated. Thank you very much :smiley:

Sounds like a little fishy to me but it’s somewhat reassuring that they are willing to front some money. Other than that, it seems like standard 'spec work and we all know how that works out. I’ve done it before…then I learned. Did a bunch of work for a company and only received an office chair in return years afterwards. Granted, a very nice office chair that I’ve been using for 11 years, but still.

If you’re comfortable with the royalty arrangement and get paid prior to working on anything, then I’d say do it. The fact that you aren’t working together in the same room doesn’t really matter. I’d draft up some sort of contract stating that all travel expenses are paid for by the client. Now, if they were only a 2-3 hour drive away, then I’d let it slide. But international travel? No way. If anything, seeing if they agree to this will help determine whether or not you go ahead with the project.

Thank you so much! :smiley: you advice is very helpful

Yes I also want to take this opportunity as a part of learning process, but since I am just a freelance designer and doesn’t have legal power, it will be disadvantage for me if anything happen later.

Also, I would like to know if it is okay to talk about money matter at the early stage? When working with local clients, we usually have a long discussion about the briefs and talk about the cost after 2 or 3 meetings or even at the end. But the western culture is different so I am afraid I might take a wrong step.

Don’t sell yourself short. Doesn’t matter if you’re an attorney or neuro-surgeon, every new opportunity is another chance to learn. I understand you want to learn but it’s still work. You are trading your time and experience for money. If you pick up a new trick, so much the better but don’t go into it thinking that THEY are doing YOU any favors. That said, you are correct about not having much legal power in the matter. I’d love to tell you to just trust them but…don’t. Don’t ever for even one second think that they will do the right thing if given the opportunity to do otherwise. Sounds very cynical, I know, but trust my wisdom on this matter.

You must absolutely talk money, NOW!! If I call up a tax attorney seeking assistance fighting the IRS (which I’ve had to do, not pleasant!), I don’t expect them to start typing up documents and letters without there being a very clear number presented to me. The longer you put off actually talking money, the more they will treat you like a commodity. It’s easy to get all excited when new projects come along. We all do it. If we didn’t, then we probably aren’t in the right profession. If they are offended by discussing the elephant in the room, walk away.

Thank you very much for your advices! :smiley: I will take further step very carefully then.

At first, I was thinking that this change was like " a great opportunity that might never come twice." But right now, it seems that I better not to take anything that will only make me low.