Client Problems

Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 14:20:15 +0000
From: Miron Iosilevich
Subject: Re: illustration: unresponsive editor

Joy and Don,

Unfortunatly, editors and art directors often have a habit of not returning phone calls. In such cases I call them or their assistants for as long as it takes for them to respond(I bother them) send them email, faxes, letters (a written request can do wonders) if nothing helps, I talk to them directly about the problem

This approach seems to work for me. I would always talk to person first letting them know how their actions affect my work and our working relationship, before going to their superior(actually, I never had to go to anyone's superior, because a direct and honest conversation with the person usually is usually good enough)

Best of luck,


Date: Sun, 31 May 1998 15:38:24 -0400
From: Claudia Sargent
Subject: illustration: Joy & the recalcitrant AD

Joy, I've been reading about your problems with Random House. Your project may have "fallen between the cracks" because of the purchase of RH by Bertelsmann; that said, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for the way the art director has treated you on this project. I'm asuming you have a contract with them-- if so, it sounds like they may already be in breach. You do have some alternatives (if you don't have a contract, BTW, you may be screwed, but try what I've outlined here anyway).

I hope you've been keeping a history of your phone calls, e-mails, and letters to this woman. If not, go back & reconstruct whatever you can in terms of setting up a paper trail for your requests for the last eight months. It's time to bring on the big guns: this is what I do, and what I advise others to do when I get cases like this on the Guild Hotline (they're more common than you might think!).

You need to write a formal demand letter, with a definite time frame for an answer (I usually give ten days from date of receipt-- since you've been waiting EIGHT MONTHS I'd give them 5 business days, no more), and send it Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested from the post office (this method of delivery is a VERY IMPORTANT part of constructing you papaer trail-- don't shortcut this!) Direct the letter to the art director you're working with, and cc: the editor of your book and the publisher of the group within RH that is controlling your project (you can get these names from the assistant AD or from the Personnel Department-- call the main switchboard & ask for Personnel). Be sure to note the cc:'s on the bottom of your original letter to the AD-- this shows that you are not going behind her back.

Determine beforehand what it is you want, and very specifically ask for that. (At this point, I would invoice and demand immediate payment for work done up until this point. If they want to continue the project, be sure to get a progress payment schedule for the remaining work-- and don't submit finished art for subsequent stages until you've received payment for work they've already got.) Explain what measures you've taken to communicate with the AD up to this point in time, and attach documentation (the history of your phone calls, the text of emails, letters you've sent, and any responses at all you've received, in chronological order). The idea here is to kill them with paper and deliver the message that you are not to be trifled with any longer.

Give them a set period of time in which to respond in writing (I'd give it 5 days). Tell them if you don't hear from them by that date, you will resort to stronger measures (it would be most helpful if you could be specific here, i.e., "I will contact the Graphic Artists Guild", "I will contact my lawyer", "I will sue RH for breach of contract/copyright infringement", whatever you will REALLY do.) BE SURE TO REGISTER THE COPYRIGHT ON ANY WORK THEY HAVE OF YOURS ON THIS PROJECT-- if you end up sending them a lawyer's letter threatening an infringement suit, you'll need the Certificate of Registration.

Lastly, if you aren't already a Guild member. this would be a great time to join & enlist them in your efforts to resolve this. This is the kind of situation that the Professional Practices Committee routinely handles, and often with great success. GOOD LUCK! If you want to run your letter by me beforehand, feel free.

Peace & joy,

Date: Tue, 18 Aug 1998 07:16:28 -0700
From: John Nez
Subject: illustration: Zip Disks Missing!

Hi Digital Listmates!

I really like doing digital art... it's such a refreshing change after working in traditional mediums ... but... I've been irritated by publishers and clients who simply don't bother to return Zip disks.

It's like pulling teeth to try and get some of these people to return disks. One particularly arrogant New York book packager informed me that 'it's not their policy to return disks'.

This is all made more complicated by the fact that it's sometimes months later that they finally get the disks back from the printers or whatever. But the cost of it does add up... and it's one more chip out of the free-lancer's hide.

After 'losing' about 5 or 6 disks I'm wondering if illustrators shouldn't just charge up front for them?

I've put a big label on each, which politely requests that they be returned... but am still waiting....

Anyone else have a similar experience...or a better method of dealing with this?

Date: Tue, 18 Aug 1998 11:42:42 EDT
Subject: Re: illustration: Zip Disks Missing!

Hi John,

We had the exact same problem...we had hundreds of dollars worth of zip dics floating around the country somewhere. I got really tired of bugging them for the discs back. We start doing this about 1 yr ago and have had pretty good luck with it. We do one of two things. First we try to work it out so that the publisher sends us blank zips...enough for the job...then we just return them with the job on it. That has worked very well. Also for the extra stubborn ones we went ahead and got a CD-R and a pile of $0.89 CD's so we can put the job on it and it just doesn't matter if they return it.


I had an interesting rejection lately...we have worked with this one company for years...tons of work. They wanted us to do a realistic sci book on the weather using Bryce... what a nightmare. Anyways we do not specialize in realistic kids, I even told him that, and we needed to do 4 of them in this hyper real well I tried and they came out I thought rather good...the AD Freaked out!!! he hated them...They dropped them out of the book all together. Man was that a slap in the face...jeez. Hysterical much... Now he will not assign us anything with kids in it...even cartoony ones...he won't even talk about it!.... They really weren't that bad, I've seen much much worse! So my concluion to this is....never bite off more than your are absolutely sure you can do... even with someone who thinks you're wonderful and you have worked with for years.


For portfolios I would perhaps recommend certified mail along with insurance so that you can get a proof that particular AD or particular person did receive it as the person needed to sign it. PO will send this proof back to you which worked for me over that LONG overdue invoice needed to be paid to me after waiting for 8 months! Boy, did I get a check right away! This may be useful for the rest of you, artists for those long overdue checks!


"Is there danger of legal problems in citing specific publishers? I wouldn't mind sharing publisher's names as there are a few I now avoid because they're too cheap. There are others to avoid for other reasons too, I'm sure. Don't they discuss names openly at the ispot?"

Yes they do. They have a whole section on problem clients and people name the publishers who have given them trouble, what kind of trouble, etc. so others can avoid them.

Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 12:42:55 EST
Subject: Re: illustration: client not paying

At least a dozen times. After 90 days, I file in small claims court. I've never had to go to trial, they all paid up, but in each case I lost the $50 filing fee. I hope it never comes up again, but if it does, I'm not settling for anything less than full restitution of all out of pocket expenses.....Bill

Date: Mon, 07 Dec 1998 02:45:19 +0000
From: Lula
Subject: Re: illustration: client not paying

Another method of collecting from long overdue accounts/clients is letting them know you will be informing the local Better Business Bureau and State Attorney's General's office of their deadbeat status. I haven't done any of this myself but have heard it works very well for some of my fellow needlework companies.

Hello Pattie and all
Years ago, doing alot of work for the State of Texas, they were so slow paying that it almost wasn't worth it. So, instead of calling and calling and maybe even giving up the project, I stated on my bill:

If paid within 30 days, 10 percent discount; after 30 Days $xx.xx.

And I boldfaced the line that told about 10 percent discount. Amazingly, they started paying me in ten days, every month. Since then, I always do this with my clients. The psychology of it works wonders.

Oh yes, the 'ten percent discount' was the actual rate, while the 'after 30 days' had enough extra to make it ok with me if they were very late.

People will generally respond well to this-Be interested if it works for you.


Date: Sat, 06 Feb 1999 10:30:56 -0500
Subject: illustration: WARNING! "Book to be sold over the internet

Layne wrote:

"New client made his way to my studio this week, and has written a 400-page, very interesting book, set 20,000+ years ......that will be sold by orders on the internet, i.e. small press run?"

RED ALERT went off here!!! This publisher isn't SALAFAR PRESS is it? And this guy's name isn't Frank or Nayland or Dana is it?

He / they are NOT to be trusted and WILL misrepresent his / themselves. Frank IS Nayland and Dana too - straight out of the Bates Hotel!! No joke. He's a want to be author and want to be Publisher (but hasn't the background or finances to be). And snares unsuspecting artists and writers, via his made up personas. The guys' (is that the correct punctuation?) web site is at and I see he/ they have updated it so must still be open for business...

I got out unscathed, before commencing work but did waste alot of time. And the poor writer of that book was crushed that their dream come true of a first published book was a farce. We might not have uncovered it in time if it wasn't for the fact that the writer and I started comparing notes through e-mail and checking strange sounding things out. *WHEW!* At one point we each checked each other out to make sure WE were real!

It got real scary at the end, because of this guy's dual personalities thing and eventual breakdown, followed by his new persona Dana... Like living a Hitchcock movie!

(How do I manage to always get the strange ones?! )


Denise R


Someone said:
" I don't think it's illegal to list to list interest charges on your invoices for late payments."

and Vince replied:
"Don't call it interest. It is simply a fee added to the charge if they don't pay within the agreed upon time. If this late payment fee is in the same document where the client agreed to pay in the first place, then it should be as legal as any other fees you may charge for, including materials, travel time, and outsourcing."

Yes, when I write up a confirmation for a job, and again on the invoice, I include a "late payment" clause. It does seem to speed up payment, but for those recalcitrant clients who won't play fair to begin with, it's impossible to collect this without suing for it in Small Claims-- and it's rarely worth the time & trouble.

This is how I phrase the boilerplate on my confirmation & invoice forms (and keep in mind that these are useless without the client's signature on a copy that you keep for your files!!)

- -Any transfer of rights in the above-named artwork is conditioned upon payment of the full invoice amount of this bill. (Note: This means they do not have ANY right to use the artwork UNTIL the bill is paid in full.)

- -Payment is due within 30 days of the date of this bill. Late payments will incur a late payment fee of 1.5% per month of the outstanding balance due.

- -All original art remains the property of the artist, and is to be returned to artist within ____ days of the date of this bill.

- -Please sign & return one copy of this bill in the attached envelope.

- -Thank you!

Claudia Karabaic Sargent

Authorized Signatory/Client Name

Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 21:34:27 EDT
Subject: illustration: greeting cards

I have just had a huge disappointment. Earlier in the year you might remember my dilemma over whether to sell a number of images to a co. because they offered no royalties (again i appreciate all the help given by my list-mates). In the end I sold 13 of the 16 images considered, I was still too attached to let go without a better future offered them. The other images had been sent to what felt like every other greeting card publisher in the world and no one was interested, me included.

Well I just got samples of the 2 they have printed so far. I almost cried! Both of them are printed in such garish colors, they are NOTHING like what I drew! One is embossed (not by my drawing) and the registration is so bad that it hardly ever matches the drawing itself. They sent about 12 of each card, and on one (the bad emboss job) I swear no two are alike in color!

I was also disappointed in the fact that they agreed to put my name on the back (even tho they don't usually do this, they said yes they would) until I saw how bad the reproduction was and am not sure I would want anyone knowing that they are mine! Maybe the other 11 will be better.

My point in bringing this up is in case anyone out there is seriously considering this company, think twice. I am not giving the name out over the waves because I don't know how fair that is to the co., but I'll be happy to privately e-mail anyone.

Seller beware!

Jane don't mean to be a bummer to all these optimistic card drawers, most cos. are not like this

The company is Novo Card out of Chicago. Hopefully the other 11 will turn out better! Hey, I really enjoyed your piece in Picturebook!

Have you all seen the complaint procedure in the 1999 CWIM? It's on page 86. Alice Pope says that if you feel you haven't been treated fairly by one of their listings that you should write to her (after you've tried to resolve it yourself). The number and severity of the compalints will be considered in CWIM's decision whether or not to delete the listing from the next edition. Excellent.

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