Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines (14th Edition)It’s been awhile since the last time I’ve written here, and at long last, another item on my list of plans for this journal has been crossed out. Welcome to The NINPOJineous Book Reviews! One of my plans for this journal aside from chronicling my “creatives” education and sharing a tutorial or two on some of the not-so-very-known methods in the hobbyist web development world was to write some reviews. I initially planned to do method reviews (such as some CSS tips and tricks, responsive web design, what works, what doesn’t, why this should or shouldn’t be used, etc.) or, like many of those (hobbyist anime and/or video game) graphic resource and tutorial sites, doing website reviews. I was also tempted to do book reviews, but I’ve been saving those for Blogcritics. Then, I realized that the book reviews I’ve written for Blogcritics were mostly fiction and non-creatives-related non-fiction books. That’s when I finally got the idea of writing book reviews for creatives-related non-fiction books 1 in any type of format. 2

Why did I decide not to do website reviews anymore, considering I’m writing tutorials on this site? I think the number one most obvious reason why is that I don’t have the time to look at someone else’s site from its sections to its source code 3 and I think it would be a little rude for me to pick a site from out of nowhere without letting the website owner knowing about it. Second reason is that there are very few people who come and visit this site, and I don’t think it would do any good for me to open a website reviews section on someone’s site when no one else is going to read it.

With that being said, my first book review for this section will be one of my favorite college class-required textbooks (?) that I’ve followed since graduation: Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines. Well, that is, the 14th (and the most current) version of its very informative and elaborate handbook. 4 I felt compelled to finally get my GAG Handbook updated because there have been some issues unrelated to this site (but related to the subject) that had been bothering me, and that the people I care about have been getting affected by all the unnecessary drama and cyber bullying because one person overexaggerated her “understanding” of copyright laws and legal issues, even though the actual context was saying something else other than that uneducated bully. Anyway, let’s get back on subject.

I think I would be going way too far if I said that the GAG Handbook is the definitive book to go to for all freelancers, employees, employers, and everyone else who create intellectual property 5 for a living, as well as students, and of course, hobbyists. The GAG Handbook elaborately provides information regarding ethical issues in the business (such as copyrights, contracts, the necessary paperwork required to do business, etc.) to providing guidelines on how to price your freshly-created commercial work. The handbook doesn’t just cover graphic arts, but it also covers all types of artistic work, from websites, magazines, illustrations, paintings, animations, photographs, and books. It also provides valuable information and resources regarding trade customs, as well as tools and sample contract formats that you could use for your business.

Last, but not least, in the last two chapters, the handbook also introduces the Graphic Artists Guild as an organization, their mission statement, and information on how you (as a professional in the field) can join the guild. There are several benefits in becoming a GAG member from discounts to even earning the latest printed copy of the handbook for free. I joined as a student member of GAG after I graduated from college and received the 12th edition of the handbook for free. Last, but not least, a long list of resources for you to seek information you need that’s not mentioned in the handbook to contact information of related organizations and blogs and sites that are well worth visiting regarding the graphic arts field.

The handbook, with its first edition back in the late ’70s, started off as a 20-page pamphlet. This edition’s handbook is over 400 pages. Yes, it grew immensely, and because of its different versions periodically, it’s obvious to note that there have been a lot of updates and changes as technology continues to evolve. The latest addition to the handbook, at least from what I’ve noticed so far, is the addition of the creation of responsive websites and mobile first websites, from its reasonsings behind, the pricing of such a feature, and other relevant information. There is also a long chapter explaining the important legal stuff, such as intellectual property, copyrights, trademarks, and who should be the rightful owner of such original works, as well as orphan works. 6

There are a lot of other books that provide the same wealth of information on ethics and survival in the graphic arts field, especially for those who are freelancing. Still, I find the GAG Handbook as the one and only book every professional, hobbyist, and student should have on the bookshelf. I’ve owned two previous versions (not the 12th edition), had to sell both handbooks to the local bookstore because I know they’re outdated, and waited to save enough money for me to purchase the latest edition.

The original retail price is around $40 ($39.99) and you pay that amount (not including taxes) if you purchase through the official GAG website. But I purchased mine from Amazon for roughly $27. 7 You can click on the image to take you to the Amazon page of that book.

I don’t see much cons regarding this book, as it provides me all the answers I needed regarding the business itself, as well as its basic ethics and other guidelines. The legal stuff and copyright issues were the main concern to me, as well as pricing my own services. I’ve already achieved my steps towards freelancing by building two sites for others already displayed on my portfolio. I need to get myself prepared when I get another client and then we start talking about copyrights and pricing. Plus, I love how they provide templates on the contract paperwork as well as a template for a Cease and Desist Letter too.

Next, I plan to start a series of commentaries regarding one particular subject I just touched based upon this book review. Just stay tuned for its first issue.

On the sidenote…

  1. mostly textbooks, for sure.
  2. format, meaning paperback, hardcover, eBook, etc.
  3. I use Google Chrome’s Inspect feature so that I’d be able to see all the HTML and CSS (and to some extent, Javascript) files.
  4. For my senior portfolio class back in college, we were using the 11th edition. When I graduated, I purchased the 12th edition from Amazon because of its new information regarding web design and development, as well as digital artworks.
  5. more on this some other time…
  6. A good example of an “orphan work” is a piece of fanart whose artists’ name is unknown or that the original artist is hard to be reached for permission of the usage of that said work.
  7. In addition to that, you’d have to wait a lot longer if you order through the GAG website because they ran out of copies, however, the site suggests you purchase it at Amazon instead.