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Graphics...Should the designer give me a digital file?

beautifullifebeautifullife subscriber Posts: 3
edited March 2008 in Marketing
This question is for the graphic/design people.
I am hiring a designer to create a postcard mailing for me.  However, one potential designer  doesn`t want to give me a digital file of the final product  (he wants to send it to the printer directly and have the only digital copy).
Due to the type of business I have, we need the graphic file, as we are planning several direct mail campaigns and certain information will be changed frequently depending on the mailing.
I`m trying to find out what is customary.


  • NuevolutionNuevolution subscriber Posts: 30 Bronze Level Member
    I agree with CampSteve,
    There is no standard in the industry. But If you paid for it, you own it, whether he was the designer it was work for hire and he should give your files. Now, just because he keeps a copy for himself for future use, doesn`t mean he can`t store a copy of your work on his computer. and most of all, he might not want anyone else working on his stuff.
    You as the person purchasing his services, should also, consider him. It is his art-work and one of the things that bother me the most is when I design something and someone else trys to take credit for it just because they changed the font or telephone number.
  • beautifullifebeautifullife subscriber Posts: 3
    Thanks CampSteve and Nuevolution.
    I felt I should have a copy as well but wanted to be fair. He is new young talent and we want to work with him but this will probably be a deal breaker. I understand not wanting anyone else to take credit for his work (we would NEVER do that). We were fine with our work being used in his online portfolio. 
    However, our postcards have event info mentioned and to have to go to him every time to change the date of an event and the location seems just crazy.
  • jcarenjcaren subscriber Posts: 3
    As a photographer and graphic designer I do release my images and work to customers, but with a stipulation that they print at one of my "preferred" printers.
    My concern is not out of "luring" you back to make more money off of you..my concern is that you will print that file at a printer that will just ruin my design...every printer quality is so different and I only want my work represented in the best way possible.....so for me it is not a financial reason..it is a business ended decision....i fmy work looks bad, I look bad!
  • darrindickeydarrindickey subscriber Posts: 1
    I`ve spent years selling and buying creative services. Others are right, there is no standard. (I`ve always considered the files bought and paid for. If they like me, they`ll come back. If not, then they have the files to work with someone else.)
    I recommend you let him know this is a deal-breaker for future work. I also recommend that in future dealings, with this designer or someone else, you determine this on the front end and get it in writing as to who owns the files.
    Hope you get it resolved in a happy way.
  • NuevolutionNuevolution subscriber Posts: 30 Bronze Level Member
    I think there`s no problem with handing over the files to the customer. This should be standard practice. But what about the shady customers that want to take your artwork? Then how do you as a designer protect your art work? (shouldn`t there be something to protect the designer`s work, even if the customer pays?)
    Is it fair that just because you paid for the files for someone else to take credit for your design?
    I think it falls back to what your companies policies are.
    Let me give you another scenario, What if you hand over the files to your customer, delete them from your computer and the customer has someone else work on the file and they ruin the design.
    Wouldn`t you want for your designer to provide you with a fresh copy? but wouldn`t you look bad if you call the designer and tell him" I hired another designer, he was fiddling with your work and ruined the design"
    The way to solved this issue is,  as a designer provide the customer with his files once youre done designing.
    If he wants new revisions then I do it for a small fee. If the customer for some odd reason calls you and tells me that they where messing with the design and screwed things up, since the designer has to stop what  he is doing to help the customer, wouldn`t it be fair to charge the customer full price again. (just a suggestion)
    Sometimes it`s easier to design a whole new set of layouts than having to fix some else`s mistakes. And the most common answer you get is... I don`t know what I did wrong, I just clicked on something and it messed up!...
  • ToniM25ToniM25 subscriber Posts: 1
    As a graphic designer I also feel that as long as the designer has been paid for their services the product they designed for that client is now their property to do whatever they want with it.  I always provide digital files to every customer after the final product is completed.
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15

    My concern is not out of "luring" you back to make more money off of you..my concern is that you will print that file at a printer that will just ruin my design...every printer quality is so different and I only want my work represented in the best way possible.....so for me it is not a financial reason..it is a business ended decision....i fmy work looks bad, I look bad!

    Jill -
    I completely agree with your concern.  Many years ago I had a client (or their print house) completely butcher one of my designs after I had provided them with the files - and they left my name on the revised project.  It reflected very poorly on me.
    Within the design industry the question of providing clients files in constantly debated. As Craig mentioned in his post in regards to the photography, there is the school of thought that the designer owns the rights to the original files and the client has purchased usage rights and the end result - but not the original creative files.
    When it comes to logo projects I will provide clients with a wide variety of file types for their purposes - with all typefaces converted to paths as I cannot legally provide a client with the fonts due to the licensing of them.
    With other projects it just doesn`t make a lot of sense for me to provide native files to my clients.  I work on a Mac - the vast majority of my clients use PCs.  The design software programs I use are not programs most clients have on their computer systems so they can`t really make most minor alterations themselves.  Again, there is the font issue - I legally can`t share the often very unique fonts used due to licensing (and this is something I am a real stickler on) and so the client would need to purchase their own duplicate fonts.
    I once had a client adamant that I provide them the files to a brochure I had designed.  I finally gave them exactly what they requested.  A few days later I got the expected phone call saying "I can`t do anything with these files on my computer."  I responded that I had tried to explain that situation to the client earlier and they just wouldn`t listen.  In that particular case I think it was a good thing that the client went away.
    I don`t have a problem turning over files to another designer should the client make such a request as a business relationship ends for whatever reason.  However, again, I will not share my font files - just as I wouldn`t provide a software program. (I once had to explain this to another designer with the analogy that such things are my tools; when a builder constructs a house he doesn`t provide the homeowner with his hammer and saw to make alterations.)
    So, in about 30 years as a designer,  I have had this issue be an problem only two or three times that I can remember.
    - J.
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