FAQ for Corvid Companion

I’m a writer/illustrator/archaeologist /musician/photographer. Is Companion for me?

Our expertise is in the production of original visual art, although (sadly) not photography at this stage. If you’re an illustrator, animator, crafter or any other sort of image-maker creating original artworks for commercial clients, we’re the people to give you answers. Not sure if your practice fits into these categories? Email us and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Companion is our most hands-on service and is ideal for meaty projects that demand a full-time partner by your side, to handle client negotiations and project management. For times when you might not need the whole kit and caboodle, check out our other offerings, Community and Consult.

Who are you? What qualifies you to be handling these projects?

Corvid and its services (Community, Consult and Companion) is powered by the seasoned team at The Jacky Winter Group—a creative representation and production company based in Melbourne and New York. Since 2007, Jacky Winter has proudly and fiercely carved paths for talented freelance artists to collaborate with agencies and clients of all kinds. Representing a roster of 100+ artists across the globe, we’ve negotiated and produced over 10,000 commissions for an infinite variety of commercial applications. At the core of Jacky Winter and Corvid is a devotion to creating a healthy creative ecosystem—one in which artists can thrive and earn a livelihood doing what they love.

Our producers have worked across all sorts of projects—murals, packaging, street posters, live illustration, TVCs, 3D printed sculptures, logos, augmented and virtual reality, fully integrated all-media campaigns, animated GIFs... you name it. Our primary clients are advertising agencies, design studios, publishers, consultancies and often direct to client. Together we’ve worked with the biggest (and smallest) clients, brands and artists in the world to produce commercial projects that we’re incredibly proud of—not only because of the beautiful artworks we’ve delivered on time and on budget, but also because we’ve worked extremely hard to negotiate fair rates and working conditions for those we represent. We know our stuff!

If you want to read more about Corvid and why we exist, head to our about page.

What sorts of projects can you handle?

Our producers have worked across all sorts of projects—murals, packaging, street posters, live illustration, TVCs, 3D printed sculptures, logos, augmented and virtual reality, fully integrated all-media campaigns, animated GIFs... you name it. Our primary clients are advertising agencies, design studios, publishers, consultancies and often direct to client. Basically, we can handle any project where artwork is required.

What languages and territories do you work in?

We have offices in New York (USA) and Melbourne (Australia). Despite our attempts at Italian language tapes, our producers are fluent in English only. We have, however, worked with English-speaking clients across the globe and can give advice on a variety of markets.

If you are based in Europe, your enquiry will be handled by our New York team.

Why do you have to vet projects before accepting?

We try to only take on projects we know we can add value to, which is why vetting happens before you pay a deposit. We know from experience that some jobs will benefit from having us on board—and others won’t. In some cases, the small scale of a project may mean our involvement isn’t necessary. In others, too much negotiation may have already occurred before it comes to us. If certain terms have already been agreed to, we can’t do our job properly. It's about making sure we can provide the best service to you. Vetting helps us determine how much we can contribute to the project, before you spend any money.

I’ve had to sign an NDA for this project. What am I allowed to share with you?

If your client has had you sign an NDA (a non-disclosure agreement), any information you share with us in your initial application must be kept general enough so you don’t breach the agreement.

Once your application has been vetted, we’ll send an agreement for you to read and sign, which includes a clause guaranteeing anything you share with us be kept strictly confidential. However, you may still want to check with your client to see if they’d like to make us party to the NDA as well—we’ll be happy to do so, of course.

A word of warning: we’ve seen an increase in NDAs that sneak in dangerous clauses such as usage and IP grabs. Please make sure to read your NDAs very carefully to ensure you don’t sign away your rights before you have any information about the project. When in doubt, seek peace of mind by checking with a lawyer.

How much does Companion cost?

There are two fees if you run a project with Companion. Once you've been vetted and approved, a $99AUD non-refundable deposit is required to get the process started. If the project is awarded and completed, we take a small commission of the overall project fee and absorb the initial deposit. As of the 27 February 2019 (valid for four months from this date), the Corvid Companion commission rate is 25%.

For example, for a project with a budget of $10,000 our 25% commission would be $2,500. The initial fee is absorbed into this, so as you you would have already paid the deposit by the time the client pays the invoice, we’d deduct $2,401 when we process your payment, leaving you with a total compensation of $7,599 (plus GST, if you’re registered). Aside from the initial deposit, all payments are processed out of your project fee—so you’re never out of pocket for any charges.

Why do you charge a $99AUD non-refundable deposit?

Most of the work in production (developing the brief, pitching the artist, reviewing the contract, negotiating the budget, etc.) is done long before a job is awarded. It can take upwards of 20 hours to do this work, and all the while there’s no guarantee the project is going ahead. The initial fee doesn’t cover much of this time, but does ensure you’re as invested in the process as we are and allows us to do the hard work that needs to be done. This is why deposits are non-refundable even if a project doesn’t get awarded. However, should you be awarded the project (and we’ll always do our most to make that happen) the $99 will be absorbed into the overall commission fee.

How long does it take from the moment I contact you, to you vetting and approving the job, to you making contact with my client?

We know time is of the essence for most projects, so any briefs received before midday in our local time zones (Melbourne or New York) will be vetted and responded to by end of day at the latest. The time until we make first contact with the client depends on a few variables, such as your schedule, the client’s availability, and the nature of the specific project. We always keep things moving as quickly as possible, so in many cases it will happen the same day or next business day. If there are any particular timing concerns tied to your project, be sure to let us know so that we can be extra mindful of this.

What's in it for my client?

If they’ve ever worked with Jacky Winter (which they very well might have!) they already know what it’s like to have a committed and proactive production partner taking the headache out of the commissioning process and making sure their brief is in good hands. Now, with Corvid, artists across the industry spectrum can engage our services to ensure they are providing clients with the attention and professionalism they know it takes to truly give legs to a creative project.

Our commitment to clients is the same as our commitment to our artists–we’re there to ensure nothing gets missed. That the brief, specs and timeline are clear. That everyone knows what they’re agreeing to in terms of budget, licensing, and scope. We make sure the client’s money is spent where it should be and they’re only paying for what they actually need. We keep everything on track and hold our artists accountable for what they’re delivering. We are a dedicated point of contact that a client can call whenever they have questions, need revisions, want to change the brief, or deliver difficult feedback. While the artist focuses on the artwork, we’ll be there to make sure the client is heard, and their brief, time, and money are respected. We’re the freelance artist’s best friend because we’re also the client’s best friend. The two are co-dependent and without positive conditions and outcomes for each, neither can thrive.

Will engaging a Corvid Companion increase my chances of getting a job?

Most clients greatly value what we bring to the process. They understand we make their job easier and the final outcome of the project better. There are many clients who, though still conscious of budget, are driven by getting the best artist and artwork for a project and a process that is efficient and snag-free. These clients understand not only the value you bring as an artist, but also the value we bring, and that any fees put forward will be reflective of fair market rates.

On the flipside, there are clients who are entirely budget-driven and sensitive to bringing any additional resources (eg. a producer) to a project that could increase overall costs. There are also clients who aim to take advantage of unrepresented artists, knowing they can propose sub-standard rates. In these cases, we do our best to educate and work with them to find a happy medium. In many situations our premium service will give you a huge advantage, but for clients who are driven only by the bottom line (or who don’t want their communication mediated), they may be reluctant to engage with us.

Our role is to put forward appropriate rates and look after your interests, balancing that with the interests of the client and the project. We have a lot of experience with this—and many times it works in everyone’s favour—but we can’t guarantee working with us will win you the job.

Clients are often looking at a range of different artists for a project, so there are many factors that affect who it’s awarded to. If we feel the client or project might be a tricky one, we’ll do our best to catch it at the vetting stage, before you’ve paid the deposit.

In any case, we hope the service we’ve provided is helpful in saving you time and resources even if a project doesn’t go ahead.

I mentioned Corvid to my client and they seemed reluctant for me to engage them or had questions—what should I do?

This is a new service, so it’s totally understandable your client might be unsure of how it’s going to work. However, most experienced clients will have already worked with the traditional agency model, so we'll reassure them Corvid's process is similar, but with the added bonus of full project management. We’ll provide you with email templates you can use to explain our role to your clients and get them on board.

What if I’m not awarded the project?

Sadly, there’s nothing we can do to guarantee a project going ahead. Clients are often talking to multiple artists at once and the needs of a brief (or its existence at all) can change quickly. We’ll fight for you, but landing a job is never a sure thing. If a project doesn’t move forward, we’ll try our best to get clear feedback for you as to why.

The initial $99AUD deposit is non-refundable—this has covered our time to research, pitch, and negotiate the project up until this point. We’re equally disappointed when a project doesn’t go ahead, as with every single one we’ve got just as much skin in the game as you.

What happens if a job is cancelled after work has been started (or completed)?

It’s an unfortunate reality that projects get killed from time to time. Nine times out of ten, it’s for reasons out of your control—like a shift internally on the client’s end. Our legal paperwork, which all clients must sign before a project starts, contains a table of kill fees that outlines the payable amounts depending on at what stage a project is cancelled. We make sure you’re covered no matter what happens.

What happens if I’m unable to deliver the artwork, or breach the contract in some other way?

The project agreement exists to protect both you and the client. If for some reason you aren’t able to fulfil your contractual obligations, the client may be entitled to not only terminate the agreement without penalty, but also (in the most extreme cases) a refund of any fees. In all instances where a client terminates a project without a legitimate reason to do so, we’ll refer back to the kill fees outlined in the project agreement to make sure you’re covered for your time.

What are your policies around work for hire and buyouts?

We are fierce defenders of the licensing model, as we strongly believe in almost all cases it serves the best interests of both the artist and the client. We dedicate a lot of time to educating artists and clients alike on how to reach a happy compromise and draw up a licence agreement and fee that takes everyone’s needs into consideration.

Where there are pressing legal or logistical circumstances that require a work-for-hire agreement or buyout, we do our very best to ensure the fees reflect the value of this work and we’ll chat with you in depth to consider the best approach.

That said, it’s not always possible to reach an agreement with a client that we would deem fair. Sometimes accepting the work on these terms may be the thing that wins or loses the job and artists may have to make tough decisions. Again, we’ll always make sure to clearly communicate your options, so you can make an informed choice.

What are your policies around excess revisions?

A big part of managing your project is making sure you’re not exceeding the amount of work we accounted for in the budget, so all our projects come with a clearly outlined number of revisions, which will also be mapped out in the schedule. This usually sits somewhere between two to four rounds, depending on the specific needs of the project and what the budget and timeline allow for. Throughout the project, we’ll stay on top of the client to make sure that feedback is coming in from the right people at the right times, and that any overages are discussed with all parties.

Sometimes there may need to be some flexibility, but we'll always consult with you and ensure when certain thresholds are crossed, these overages are actively negotiated throughout the project.

What legal services do I get with Companion?

The Corvid team of producers are not trained lawyers. However, we've seen, reviewed and negotiated thousands of contracts in our time, so we know our stuff. We can provide you solid general guidance, but for ultimate peace of mind it can be best to get things vetted formally by a lawyer. Where needed, this can be arranged as an add-on with our fabulous legal eagles at Media Arts Lawyers.

When do I get paid?

We don’t get paid until you do, so we take prompt invoice payment seriously. Many invoices are paid within 60 days, but some advertising agencies and larger companies have hard payment terms of N/30 EOM or N/60 EOM (basically, 30 or 60 days from the end of the month the invoice was received), which can push things out even further. There’s usually very little that can be done to change this as it’s hard-coded into their systems, but these systems within big companies also help to ensure invoices don’t slip through the cracks.

When invoices are overdue past this period, we take action to recover the payment swiftly. We have legal processes we rely on to collect payments and also provide incentives for early payment, as well as penalties for late payment—which tends to help things along! We’re also set up as vendors with most agencies and holding companies already, which streamlines the process compared to handling it on your own.

Once money reaches our accounts, we’ll work to get fees transferred across to you. When you work with Companion, you can rest assured we’re managing all the wrangling needed to get you paid.

How do I get paid? Do I need to invoice you?

Nope! All we need is your preferred payment details. We work with RCIs (recipient created invoices)—basically a fancy way of saying we’ll provide you with a tax invoice as a record of the payment.

For artists based in Australia or the United States, you’ll be paid by EFT/ACH. Artists in any other country will be paid by international wire transfer.

Can I get money up front?

On some occasions, we can secure a portion of the fees up front through a commencement invoice. This is usually only possible on particularly large projects or projects that require significant upfront fees (eg. for materials). If we do issue a commencement invoice it will be paid to you in the same way as all other invoices. That is, we will deduct our commission before transferring it straight to you and supplying you with an RCI.

Do I have to sign anything?

Yes! Once we’ve vetted your project we’ll send you our simple legal agreement. We’ve worked hard with our lawyers to make sure everything in there is easy to understand (no legal jargon) and everyone’s needs are met and protected.

We won’t be able to start on the project until the agreement has been signed, as its purpose is to ensure we’re both on the same page about how we’ll be working together. If anything is unclear we are always happy to help walk you through it, so please don’t hesitate to ask us questions!

How much direct client contact will I have throughout the project?

We’re a big part of the process, but we don’t take over your role.

We find projects work best if we handle the business and you focus on the creative. We’ll take the reins at negotiation stage, making sure we keep you across everything that’s happening. Once a project is successfully negotiated and awarded, you and the client have direct and easy access to each other to talk through the creative, always with support from us whenever you need it. Clients love to hear directly from artists about their ideas, inspiration and vision for the work, so we push for you to be involved in this part. We’ll be there to manage any schedule, budget or tricky conversations that might need to be had.

What if you’re working with multiple artists who are vying for the same job?

This happens from time to time, as clients will often investigate multiple artists before making a final decision. If there’s a potential conflict of interest, this will be raised with you from the beginning. In some cases it may mean we’re unable to take on the job. In other cases we may still be able to find ways to help you. Either way, we’ll make sure any potential issues are made clear as soon as possible.