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a topic for dinosaur artists

In 1996 I wrote a book titled "Copyrights, Contracts, Pricing and Ethical guidelines for Dinosaur Artists and Paleontologists" and it was distributed without charge to everyone in the field by the Dinosaur Society. The subject of working for the movies was written by Bill Stout. The first half, relating to copyrights and contracts is still up on my website, dinoart.com. Obviously, the part relating to pricing guidelines is a fluid thing and so, I do not have it on the website, but it is that part - pricing guidelines - which I would like to research and update and distribute, especially in these lean times. I ask the list's indulgence - this seems the best way to do it.

My biggest concern is not pricing for original work, although that seems not to be keeping pace with cost of living in a way we all might hope - what has? No, my big concern is resale of images, and I want to have a dialogue with artists on the list about this. I am concerned the art market is becoming unstable in this aspect to the detriment of all dinosaur artists and we can stop it if we communicate with each other. I am only talking about commercial use of images. It has always been considered an honor to have a paleontologist ask to use an artist's image for a talk or paper and no artist should ever charge for that.

In a stable art market, tradition dictates the artist would re- license an image for one-half the fee he or she would charge to do a comparable original. In 1996 the price for an interior color life restoration was stable at $100-$300. Artists in attendance at the Bozeman SVP in (I think) 2001 re-set the lower limit to $300 with an upper at $500. (discounts allowed for multiple images purchases). As far as all of us who made that pact to agree - this is still in effect, and might be considered reasonable today, given stagnancy in wages in North America generally since then. I would like to hear from artists what they think about these numbers. I have begun to suspect that there is, in 2009, no standard in the market and I will tell you why I think it is imperative that one be established.

Many artists might be tempted to think of any offer to re-license one or more of their images as "found" money and do no negotiation when the offer comes along. OK, you could look at it that way, but every time you re-license an image that means you are not being paid to do a new one. So the difference between you re-license rate and your regular rate is actually the amount you have lost. These are lean times for publishers too. That is probably why I am seeing the increase in requests for re-licensed images as opposed to original work. I am both sympathetic and cynical in my attitude toward publishers. Sympathetic, because the individual editors and publishers I know are under harsh constraints to put out quality books although they are given meager art budgets. Cynical, because publishing sales people would not know a quality book if they tripped over it, IMHO. And what I see on the shelves is unnerving. There are so many books on the shelves with re-used images that I fear it will not take a sales force long to conclude that the "dinosaur craze" has run its course and the editors do not outrank a sales force in any publishing house I am aware of - so the market will dissolve.

Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong, but with communication - we artists can control prices and - by raising prices on re-uses, make buying original artwork more reasonable and revitalize a stagnant market. Please let me know your thoughts and fees and reasons for those fees. If you want to send me numbers privately please do so off list.

I will tell you that we at Walters & Kissinger charge a minimum of $300 for a re-licensed image and have occasionally gotten $500 and up - though not from a publisher. We are successful at that rate. You would be too if you are not now, if we standardize the rate.

Let me know what you think.

Tess Kissinger