sell design to company I freelance at

hi I did some simple designs for a vase as portfolio promo pieces. the company I freelance at saw it in my portfolio, now wants to produce one of them. Should I try to charge for this design? Functionally is not anything special, just a cool ornamental design, not protected by any design patent or anything. Took me maybe 24 hrs of work to surface it and render. Any idea what I should do? Would be nice to maybe get $1,200. for it. thanks for advice.

Of course you can charge for your design, it was your independent work. And if the company steals your idea only because there is no IP protection, I think that speaks vastly to the character of the company.

As for price, if the company asked you to design a vase, how much would you charge?


Thats a little low. Perhaps 1/10th the price you should ask for. But then again, maybe $12k is a little high to ask.

It depends on a lot of things. The important thing is to take all of those things into consideration.

This is a company you’re selling to. Their ultimate goal is to sell products, and make profit.

You are providing them with a design that will make them profits. Do they sell 100 units per year, do they sell 100,000 units per year? How much will they be pulling in on this deal? If it’s anywhere over $100,000 worth of profit, you need to seriously re-evaluate your rate.

The other way to look at it, if you sell it for $1200 and took you 24 hours to do, that’s $50/hour. In a sense, sell it at what you’re comfortable with, or alternatively make a commission deal (you take x% of sales). If your comfortable at $1200, then be it. Take things as mentioned above into consideration as well

Another thing to consider is that you designed this as a promo piece for your portfolio. If they buy the design for production you will likely have to take it out of your portfolio, for a while. It may not seem like much but if this portfolio piece is helping drum up business you may not want to take it out.

Consider this: if you were consultant, you basically wouldn’t make a living charging less that $60-$80 an hour.

In my opinion $50/hour isn’t enough. But, that is just me. If you’re a recent grad and building up your portfolio/career, it could make sense though.

It was 24 hours for one concept. When doing a project, how many of you develop only one concept for a client?

If I quoted this project, I would show a minimum of 3-4 concepts, have the client choose one to refine and finalize. The refine anf finalize portion of the project would eat nearly all of the 24 hours and I would probably add anouther 16 hours for the concept generation. I think 40 hours total would be more than fair.

As for the rate, $50/hour would be on the low end for the US/Europe and on the higher end for eastern Europe/SE Asia. Depends.

… now wants to produce one of them. …

It was 24 hours for one concept.

Along the lines of where iab was going… at 24 hours per “concept” I think you would better serve your client with hand drawn work … and then bill the “24 hours” (or whatever) on the development of the chosen ideas. Basically, $1,200.oo is a helluva lot to pay for one “idea” (even if it does come with surfacing data); for $1200 I’d prefer to see a dozen, or more, especially since …

“Functionally is not anything special, just a cool ornamental design, not protected by any design patent or anything.”

But $50, 60, 70 … $150 per hour doesn’t really make any difference.

What does make a difference is what it costs you to do business. i.e. Are you renting a studio, or working out of your bedroom? Are you purchasing E&O insurance to protect your business? Are you purchasing life insurance? Do you have health insurance? Do you have a business license and are therefore required to pay unsecured property taxes? Paying utilities? Making a profit (on top of your wages)?

In other words, you need to do an analysis of your costs.

Otherwise it’s a hobby…

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here for just a second. The piece was sitting in your portfolio… not doing much of anything, now these people want to make it, and it will be a way better portfolio piece as something in production right?

Also, you bill for the hours it took, not the hours you wish it took, or it could of took, or maybe would have took. It is already public, and so there is no need to remove it from your portfolio.

Here is an alternative to the advice above, I say either:

  1. multiply the hours it took by your current freelance rate with them (pretty fare if you think of the fact you already have a relationship and fee structure with them)
  2. ask for a royalty
  3. do a reduced rate + smaller royalty

No matter what you do, make sure you retain the right to publicize the design as your work.

I am going to disagree with yo, but with one caveat. Every project should have concept generation (several concepts), concept refinement (1-3 concepts) and concept finalization (1 concept). I’m assuming the 24 hours on the 1 concept is for finalization and some refinement only - no generation or refinment of other concepts.

If my assumption is correct, only charging for refinement and finalization is a dangerous presidence. What happens on the next project? If you charge only $X on this vase because it is “complete” but you want to charge $X+Y to include your other ideas on the next vase, as the company owner I would ask what is different between the final deliverable that you want the extra $Y. If vase 1 and vase 2 are essentially the same, why would I pay more the second time? Raising price is extremely difficult without adding value.

If my assumption is incorrect and the 24 hours includes generation, refinement and finalization, disregard my gibberish.

Also, Lmo, cost and price are unrelated. Price is determined by what the market will bear. Cost is determined by consumption of resources. If your cost is $10K and the market will only bear a $2K price, no one will pay the $10K. And judging by the negative profit margin in that instance, you won’t be in business for long.

This was a quick project you dashed off for your portfolio- ask for a reasonable royalty, in line with whatever they typically pay (probably under 5%). Hourly billing is a dismal business. I’ve hated it every time I’ve had to do it. Not knowing anything about this company, their volume, or their price points, I am going to guess a wholesale price of $25. At 3%, you would get $0.75 per vase sold. If they sell 2000, you’ve made $1600. If they sell 20000, you’re making Taylor Welden kind of money. If they sell 200, they probably shouldn’t be in the business of selling $25 vases.