zentao.com logo and trademarkCustom Graphic Art—creating unique artwork just for you.

The high points for those of us who prefer bullet-points:

  • Custom graphic artwork means that artwork is unique, created just for your project.
  • Custom graphic art is more expensive than pre-made art or stock imagery.
  • There is a process, sometimes lengthy and intensive, in developing custom graphic art for a project.
  • The more time and effort it takes to create a piece of customized art, the more expensive.

Reasons to seek custom graphics:

  • Your project or message is distinctive, but nothing you see in various catalogs of stock images or pre-made artwork is suitable.
  • You have a vision of just what you want and need an artist to create it.
  • You are establishing a brand and/or trademark—a 'look'.

The process, which can take anywhere from hours to days to months:

  • You'll describe your needs, perhaps supplying a sample of what you seek, else requesting the artist to generate some ideas for you.
  • The artist will either create artwork based on your sample, if any, else supply rough sketches of their ideas, emphasis on rough—quickly done mock-ups of possibilities which are generated quickly with no refinement whatsoever.
  • You'll either like or dislike the direction of the mock-ups, at which time you'll either stay with the artist or seek a different one.
  • Once a rough idea of the artwork you want is decided upon, the artist starts creating a refined image, and details are established based upon your vision of the completed work. This is the most intense part of the project where screenshots of the image are submitted to you each major step of the way.
  • Changes occur to major elements, perhaps significant ones.
  • Once the artwork is nearing finality, small adjustments to color tones, saturation levels, and, if applicable, font sizes occur.
  • Once you are satisfied, the artwork then is detailed to its final, refined state by the artist. Once done, a proof is sent to you for approval.
  • When you approve the final proof, the artist then generates an invoice, along with the necessary file formats and various sizes you will require. Once the invoice is paid, you'll receive the files in an agreed upon method, such as download or perhaps mailed to you on media such as a DVD. You'll also receive any previously agreed upon licensing or copyright releases.

The price of custom graphic art:

  • First up, it's going to take (or 'cost') time.
  • Pricing is done by estimate, by bid, or based on number of hours needed to finalize the project.
  • Hourly prices are $60 an hour; half that for regular clients.

Terms upon payment in full:

  • You receive the finalized artwork in appropriate, agreed upon file formats, either via electronic download from my website or via some form of media transport, such as the files burned to CD or DVD media, sent to you via USPS.
  • You receive the terms of use, any licensing agreement, model releases, and/or copyright transfers.

Custom Graphic Art, creating unique artwork just for you—the long version.

There are several reasons to contract for custom artwork, and several good ones why you should try to either create the artwork yourself, use public domain images, stock images, or find something suitable in available pre-made art collections. The main reasons why not to seek custom artwork are time and cost. Creating custom artwork takes time-yours and the artist's—anywhere from hours to days to months, and it is also going to cost a lot more.

Sometimes, the artwork and images used on a project don't really matter. Any common button, icon, image, or photograph will suit your purposes, so you can grab something from one of the free public domain sites without fretting that maybe millions of other people are using that same image. In fact, sometimes it's preferable to use something that everybody recognizes...like a recycle symbol, a stop sign, or play button.

At other times, though, you will want to have something unique and distinctive, but maybe you don't have the time, inclination, or skills to create it. That's when you want "custom" artwork.

I do a lot of custom graphic art, but I'm rather picky about the projects I'll take on. Your project deserves an artist's peaked, attendent energy and interest to make it special and "just right". I have to feel an affinity and an excitement for your project. In that way, I'm a little less "commercial" than a lot of my cohorts. Inside myself, I must immediately care about your project and the art you desire, otherwise, the ideas don't generate themselves, and the inspiration escapes my hand. What you might get then, were I to agree to do the project anyway (which I won't), would be less than spectacular artwork.

So, yes, I'm selective in which projects I'll undertake.

And, no, there's no good way of knowing if I'll take on a project or what kind of projects I just don't have a feel for. It just all depends...on "energy".

I create artwork on a wave of energy that generates itself from the images I get inside my brain when you first introduce me to your project. Something gets set in motion when there's a nick between the art you want and the artist, me. Then the work flows, and what gets created is something inspired and (definitely) unique.

Now, you won't always like what I create on the first wave. Maybe not even on the second. But, usually, something gets sparked in the process that really suits your needs. Ultimately, if you don't like something, that's not a problem. I just tuck it away into my archives for use at some other time. Mostly, though, what I create on that generated wave of energy is so appropriate and project significant to you immediately give me the thumbs up to finalize the work.

That's been my experience in doing custom work.

Prices for Custom Graphic Art

graphic art pricesUntil this year, I often did custom work "on spec", that is, artwork for which you paid only if the work was to be used. As I've gotten busier and busier, I've tried to maintain that policy. But, now, I've hit a wall. I've run out of time, the most precious commodity in my life, so I'm sorry to say that I am no longer able to contribute time to a project without being compensated. There are just too many other projects waiting in the wings to be able to have that luxury. So, once I give you a quote or estimate on the cost, if you decide to engage my service, I will require some money down, non-refundable, in order to commence work. This payment is for the time I devote to your project, including correspondence. Remember, just you are compensated for your work (or should be) at a fair and reasonable rate, I also expect to be justly compensated for mine.

Of course, you are under no obligation to buy the artwork I create for your project, but neither may you take what I do and use it, either as an example to another artist, or for any use whatsoever. I retain all copyright and license until such time as I am paid in full for my work. If you decide that none of the artwork I generate for your project suits your needs, then you are under no obligation to pay the balance. If you decide that, yes, indeed, you want the art, then full payment is due on acceptance of the final proof, afterwhich you'll recieve the appropriate files, terms of use, licensing agreements, model releases, and/or copyright releases.

My prices for custom artwork depend on the project and start at $30 for small, simple projects. Costs for my custom projects range in average around $300 to $1500. However, the more time-consuming and intensive the work, the more the artwork will cost. Some projects can and will cost you into the thousands if engaging a photographer and, perhaps, one or more models, is necessary. (Engaging and paying the photographer and/or models is your responsibility.)

The process of creating custom graphic art can be arduous for both of us, simply because I can't see what you are envisioning inside your head. Then there are the numerous changes that we'll go through once we have a design close to the one you want. This process can take weeks, so, if you are in a hurry, try public domain, stock, or one of the available pre-made art catalogs to see if there is something there which will work for you.

In truth, price all depends on the project, so do ask for an estimate. I usually come in pretty close to what I send as an estimate, sometimes lower, sometimes a bit higher. If I think the project is overrunning the estimate by more than ten percent (10%), I'll advise you.

Response times

I usually respond within 24 hours, business days, unless somebody working on the highway cuts the DSL cable (It happens!), or a family emergency comes up. In that case, usually a nice lady named AmyV will respond to you, but it usually takes her 48 hours, business days, because she only checks my messages and email once a day.


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This page was created June 2012 and uploaded on November 1, 2012.