I don’t have the statistics, but I’ve heard some more established and experienced designers have said that they don’t get paid much more now per design if they sell it to a 3rd party than they did 15+ years ago. And if you count in inflation, well, designers get paid less now than they did back then. This is very sad.
As a newer designer, I’ve already had to make some difficult decisions about selling my rights. Publications are running a business, and of course they are going to do what’s best for their business: get the most for the least. That’s basic commerce, right? But designers have to think in the same way. I know there are many new designers who will sign away all rights. I have not and don’t intend to. I hope someday that knit and crochet designers will get the same reverence and parity in pay as professional artists. We’ve a long way to go.
In my former career, I advised people on their legal, civil and service rights, helped them advocate for their rights, and gave them tools to empower them to fight for their rights. Although, it’s a totally different field from the creative arts, it gave me certain tools and knowledge that I can apply to everyday life, and as a knitwear designer.
I think this is why I haven’t been so easily swayed by some magazines to buy my patterns and all its rights. I won’t lie and say that I haven’t been tempted, and had it not been for my background, I may have done it. Just in the past week and half, I had to ponder such a deal and offer. It was not easy. Although I have been published a few times now, and am expecting a few more to come out later this year, my portfolio is still relatively thin, and I am still learning about the industry. So negotiating for a better rate (the one offered was really, really low) and for keeping my rights was uncomfortable. (My poor friends were getting polled by me almost every day.) However, uncomfortable, it had to be done, and knew that I would have to walk away if the publication insisted on all rights. I am happy to say that in the end, the magazine and I came to an agreement that is beneficial for both parties. I think I just grew an inch as a designer.
Fueled by my growth spurt andAnnie’s post, as well as a response to that post by Ysolda Teague, I am even more charged to pursue building my knitting design portfolio by making good and fair choices for myself, and not compromising my creative rights. I only hope that one day, I will be as established and experienced as Annie and Ysolda to feel free to speak so honestly and to provide this type of information for all designers. At this moment, I don’t think I’d have the courage to speak that way, especially since I’m still new to this game, and I have little points of reference. Bravo, Annie – I raise my right hand and pledge.
My friends, I also hope that you as knitters, crocheters and consumers in the needlearts industry, pledge and support indie designers in our efforts to make sure that our work and our rights are fairly valued.