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Subject: Approximate price for hiring artist? rss

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Tom Young
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I am developing a game and I wondered how much hiring an artist to design cards would cost. Obviously the price can fluctuate due to experience, time crunch, amount of design, etc.

I would need 9 different designs.

I also would need 30 different action cards with 30 different small icons (like Garlic, blood, smoke, a mirror, etc.)

There is no time crunch, and amateur are more than welcome.

If you've hired or worked for someone (or know somebody that has) could you give me a good ball-park figure. Thanks
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David Janik-Jones
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What's on the cards? Borders, decorations, portraits? You say you need nine different designs then 30 action cards as well. What elements exactly are on one of those nine cards? Do you need both sides designed; the obverse and reverse? I'd probably budget up to $100-150/card depending on the type of details/specifics you want, but you haven't been specific enough for a more precise quote. I could be as low as $25-50, depending on what level of designer you hire and what you want done. You'll probably get a rate based on the number of hours the designer estimates it'll take him/her.
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Sebastián Koziner
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There are two separated tasks: the card layout, and the illustration inside. I'm both a graphic designer and an illustrator, but lot's of people do just one of that.

As a graphic designer I normally charge from $30 to $50 for a card layout, and the client provides the illustrator.

I take little jobs as an illustrator (no time), but depends on the style you want may go from $10 for a very simple illustration to $150, for a very complex piece.

Hope that works for you!
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John "Omega" Williams
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Price varies alot from artist to artist and some have some rather overblown ideas of their own value. Counterpointed by some patrons who massively underpay artists. Round and round.

Depending on the artist you can get pieces done anywhere from 20$ a piece to 250$ a piece and up. Back in the 90s I had artists quoting upwards of 500$ a piece!
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Tom Young
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The cards would have a simple dark back with the words of the game (or the word Action Card). The other side would have :

1 Dracula - prototype is a B&W silhouette
1 Van Helsing
2 Vampires (my prototype consists mostly of either bats, fangs, etc.
2 Hunters (prototype consist mostly of Stakes )
1 Cross - (prototype just is a cross with two toned background)

None of the cards need fancy borders or decorations. Simplicity is fine.

The cards do not have to look like photograph quality artwork.

$100/$150 a card? Wow! Now I wish I was still friends with my college pal who had a job offer from Marvel comics!

The Action card only need a simple "clipart quality" icon in the middle of the card - like a clove of garlic, or holy water, or sunshine.

I hope this clarifies any questions someone may have.
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Joe Pilkus
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Tom,

According to James Mathe of Minion Games who has created several successful Kickstarter Projects, runs a small gaming business, and writes extensively on the subject, advocates that the industry standard is $15-$25/piece of artwork. While you can pay more, you should not have to do so to get quality work. Here's the info from Kickin' It Games:

Hire an Artist

This will only be the raw art, a Layout designer will plug into the game design

Box cover $100-300
Game board $100-200
Cards $15-25 per (low detail)
Everything needs to be done in 300dpi & CYMK color.
Use resources like Elfwood and Deviant Art to find artists.



We're working on a 4X game at the moment, and we have one college student with outstanding skills who will provide some limited amount of artwork through the year, and once we're fully-funded on Kickstarter, he'll receive both compensation, plus a percentage of the profits.

Cheers,
Joe
Game Developer

President
Crafthulhu LLC
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David Janik-Jones
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Again, the OP didn't say what was involved in their initial post. I made an assumption that the entire card needed designing ... border, illustration, icons and other graphics. For a decent illustration alone $25 still seems very very cheap. I hang out a lot with illustrators and artists on Conceptart.org and other forums, and that's way cheap; $50 is closer to the mark. Again, depends on the quality your want. Quick pencil sketches maybe, fully coloured portraits of semi-photo quality you won't get for $25.
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Kristopher Kycia
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From my experience dealing with Artists/Illustrators, usually they want about $100.00 per piece of artwork.

Since this is a shared endeavor, you can of course negotiate a *bulk* price if you want to get a better price. So if you have like 100 cards to design, I bet you can easily get around $75.00 per piece.

Note that the artwork I am talking about deals with artist that are not completely *unknown*. One was a Marvel and D.C. Comics artist/illustrator and the other has won numerous awards for the precision and exactitude of his paintings (He is a perfectionist when it comes to trying to draw/paint things close to reality).

People ask me, do your artists accept commission and my answer is "Yes". But they usually prefer a *bulk* deal which is more lucrative than on-off illustrations. In one discussion, my artist told me that whatever Publisher I get for my game, to tell them that he would be interested in illustrating more games...

BTW if you want to know what $75.00 per piece artwork looks like, just have a look at my other thread: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1339511/introducing-som....

Best of luck with your game!

Update: BTW I don't know how he does it. To me, the artwork is fantastic. I have no clue if it's only digital, part painting, etc. All I know is that I really enjoy seeing what/how my notes get illustrated. I give him the creative freedom to try to match the card and offer up suggestions on how each card could be rendered (reference point)...
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Ricardo van Duuren
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On the other side of the spectrum, a company like Wizards of the Coast used to pay $ 800 for the usage rights with exclusivity for board and card games (i.e. not ownership or total exclusivity. The artist still owns the work and may sell prints, posters or sell the original in case of a physical painting) of a single illustration.

Used to, because they increased their default price in 2014. I don't know what their new rate is. Most companies don't have the kind of budgets or expected turnover Wizards of the Coast has though.

Here's a 2013 post by Daarken why $ 100 is a low rate and below minimum wage for many people: https://daarken.com/blog/2013/09/11/low-pay-no-way/
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Kristopher Kycia
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RicoD wrote:
...Here's a 2013 post by Daarken why $ 100 is a low rate and below minimum wage for many people: https://daarken.com/blog/2013/09/11/low-pay-no-way/


That's why I think it's more fair to work on a "Budget" for the entire project. Remember this is the Table-Top Gaming industry. They tell us not to expect much profit from your game... So if I'm paying my artist in the ballpark of $7,500 for a game - you better believe that that will have an impact in terms of "profitability" of the game.

But I'm different - I am dealing with a Publisher because I want to get the game to as many gamers as possible. HOWEVER I am willing to EAT the cost of producing the artwork... My artist will probably make more off the deal than I will. But my goal is to have the game done as best as possible and that includes using my artist for the artwork.

Right now I'm not looking for *miracles* - but you need to know that some of us understand that art has value, but we aren't the ones "calling the shots"!
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Kristopher Kycia
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The other aspect about artwork is trying to figure out what you can be *happy* with in terms of the artwork.

For example, with my artist we discussed having artwork done 6" x 5". This is much smaller than if he needed to paint an entire painting on a canvas. So my guess is probably he does the sketching on paper, perhaps cardboard and the scans the picture and works off the coloring/rendering via the computer (using tools like Adobe CS).

If you don't need originals, some of the artwork can be purely digital "collages". Not a real piece of artwork only a collection of pieces that are digitally assemble during the rendering process.

That can also lower the cost to produce, because the artist doesn't have to make ONE (1) single illustration... They are pieces put together and then you have the end result (which is usually awesome).

So there are shortcuts besides having a larger amount of pieces that you require to make... I'd discuss these with any potential illustrator/artist!
 
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Marco Echevarria

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"the industry standard is $15-$25/piece of artwork"

That is a depressingly low rate for illustration work. I mean really! custom artwork which the client is buying full copyright to, for $25 or less.

Nope.

Anyone that is doing quality work for those rates is doing themselves a massive disservice.

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dennis bennett
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BurnCreative wrote:

"the industry standard is $15-$25/piece of artwork"

That is a depressingly low rate for illustration work. I mean really! custom artwork which the client is buying full copyright to, for $25 or less.

Nope.

Anyone that is doing quality work for those rates is doing themselves a massive disservice.



Yep. I'd like to see examples of artwork that only cost 15-25$/piece.

I mean, how many minutes of work do you think can an artists invest in his work at that rate? Even if they need only 1h per piece (with any research into the actual design of the artwork, assuming you're not handing them sketches and stuff to work on that will speed up their artistic process), what kind of an hourly rate is that for a freelance artist?

Or do you think they'll be able to create 3 or 4 original pieces of art per hour? 15-25$ seems insultingly low to me.

Now, if you're working on really simple "modular" designs that you can reuse on a whole series of cards you migth be able to get such a low price (= the artist is actually just creating 1 pice of art but using it in a modified version for perhaps 5-10 cards).

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dennis bennett
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The Professor wrote:
Tom,

According to James Mathe of Minion Games who has created several successful Kickstarter Projects, runs a small gaming business, and writes extensively on the subject, advocates that the industry standard is $15-$25/piece of artwork. While you can pay more, you should not have to do so to get quality work. Here's the info from Kickin' It Games:

Hire an Artist

This will only be the raw art, a Layout designer will plug into the game design

Box cover $100-300
Game board $100-200
Cards $15-25 per (low detail)
Everything needs to be done in 300dpi & CYMK color.
Use resources like Elfwood and Deviant Art to find artists.



We're working on a 4X game at the moment, and we have one college student with outstanding skills who will provide some limited amount of artwork through the year, and once we're fully-funded on Kickstarter, he'll receive both compensation, plus a percentage of the profits.

Cheers,
Joe
Game Developer

President
Crafthulhu LLC


I'll assume that you're not intentionally misquoting James Mathe there (i just had to google that artcle because i just couldn't believe he would write such a thing).

http://www.jamesmathe.com/10000-feet-to-publishing-a-board-g...

"Hire an artist
This will only be the raw art, a Layout designer will plug into the game design
Box cover $100-500
Game board $100-300
Cards $25-50 per low detail, $50-100 for larger art.
Everything needs to be done in 300dpi & CYMK color.
Use resources like Elfwood and Deviant Art to find artists.
"

I could imagine he's still on the low end of things and it still very much depends on the quality and experience of the artist. (I guess you could also check out games designed/published by James Mathe to get an idea of how valuable his recommendations are... whistle ).

Also keep in mind that is just for the raw art.

Mathe's article also mentions graphic design/layout:
"Hire a Layout / Manual designer
To make your artwork pop
To make icons and rules clear
Costs around $500-2000"

In general i often get the impression designers/publisher underestimate the value of good art and of good artists and overestimate their own taste and the value of their abilities as "art directors"...

*runs away and hides*
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As an art agent (of sorts), I'm in opinion that 100 is too low a price for commercial art. A more appropriate pricing starts from 350 onwards.

Do consider how important art and visuals is in attracting others to BUY your product. You will definitely want to get the best illustrator who is willing to put in time and effort into getting the art right for your purpose. Especially for an industry which visuals is very important in grabbing attention, art shouldn't be something you skim on.

Otherwise artists will all just go work with bigger companies that are willing to pay a fair wage.
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Dennis,

Hello againlaugh

The piece from Mathe is part of a much larger tableau, but the idea is such that one should not have to go bankrupt to publish a game due to the art.

KC,


Please don't take from my comments that I'm impugning your comments or the great work done by artists...I just want to make a very clear distinction between gallery-level art (at $350 or more) and the art required for cards in a game. While I realize that I risk oversimplifying the matter...if one has 100 cards, each requiring a 1" x 1" piece of art, it is ludicrous to think that a game designer will pay $35K for art...a more reasonable approach is a set price of $6K-$8K with the opportunity to earn a portion of the profits.

Cheers,
Joe
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Robert Beachler
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Art itself is a luxury item like a Rolex watch or spinner hubcaps (when they were the thing) and like anything it should cost money to obtain. It's all subjective of course as we have all seen the 8 year old that paints like Picasso sell stuff for millions or some similar ridiculous story. But that just shows that some people are more willing to see that value and appreciate an artist's skills more than others. Which is really where the problem lies.

There are guides and pricing and for seeking out work but there are far too many people that think of art as something artists do to get exposure. That word has been uttered by far too many people and companies both big and small. Fact is that it's an insult to all artists to say this to them. But I am rambling on.

Reality is that there are many artists that charge widely varying prices for the same thing. Especially in this day and age with the internet providing access to worldwide connections. The choice is whether you want to work with someone in Zimbabwe who barely speaks English but charges less than the guy in Canada who has much a greater cost of living. We can't say that the guy in Canada will be better at the job though often you get what you pay for.

Now for the OP, what you really have to take into account is what type of art you want. Obviously a cartoony drawing will likely be less than a full fledged painted piece simply because of the time and effort it takes to create. From your descriptions in your later post what you ware wanting really shouldn't be $100-$150 a card. Dennis and Joe are debating around the right range of cost for your specific needs. It's just up to you to decide who will be best to work with and meets your budget.
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dennis bennett
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The Professor wrote:
Dennis,

Hello againlaugh

The piece from Mathe is part of a much larger tableau, but the idea is such that one should not have to go bankrupt to publish a game due to the art.


Okay, then i can assume you did intentionally only quote James Mathe very selectively. I think that is really bad style. Combined with the whole "signing each post with full credentials"-schtick and giving your whole post some kind of air of authority (claiming it's what some other "authority" is saying). it certainly creates the impression art should/can be cheap.

I'm not sure your advice is all that good. (actually i think it's rubbish).

You obviously don't know what you're talking about. 350$ art isn't necessarily "gallery level art" (whatever thta is suppsoed to be) and just because the art on the final card is 1x1" doesn't mean the original art was that small or that because the resulting art is that small you'll be able to get iot for cheap.

If you have a project with 100+ cards aren't can't afford good art for it, that is not the artistst problem. That is your design choice! Then, yes, choose to get something really basic, but then the discussion shouldn't be about "prices" but about "quality" and "art direction".
don't ask an artist to create 200 fantastic pieces of art for you, have your art director come up with a game design that can reuse the same piece of art a couple of times or use variations of the same piece (having your graphic designer change colours on a piece to create variants should be cheaper than having the illustrator create new pieces from scratch).

Yes, of course you can get art at 25$ a piece, but the artist will also only be able to invest 25$ worth of their time into it. Now just think about how much work you can get done for 25$... For a freelance artist that shouldn't even buy you 1h of their time.

Of course you can always search out young artists, students, amateurs, anbody who is happy to work for cheap, perhaps in hope of some exposure (which is usually totally overrated), but i guess that is also a matter of how professional your are.

If you're professional, work with professionals. Pay professional prices.
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Dennis,

I'm sorry you feel that way...I've been working in and around the industry for several years and while I'm no artist, I certainly do know the value of art as the pieces we've crafted for a particularly niche market are expensive, but most casual-gamer standards because they're hand-crafted and not mass-produced in a foreign factory.

I certainly meant no disrespect to you or those who ply their artistic trade, but simply to offer some reasonable comments to the OP on a subject for which I've conducted a fair amount of independent research for one of the games currently under development.

Cheers,
Joe
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komicer wrote:
As an art agent (of sorts), I'm in opinion that 100 is too low a price for commercial art. A more appropriate pricing starts from 350 onwards.

Do consider how important art and visuals is in attracting others to BUY your product. You will definitely want to get the best illustrator who is willing to put in time and effort into getting the art right for your purpose. Especially for an industry which visuals is very important in grabbing attention, art shouldn't be something you skim on.

Otherwise artists will all just go work with bigger companies that are willing to pay a fair wage.


Well I think you need to take a look at the "BIGGER PICTURE". And if we, as Designers, are being asked to get 4% of Distributors' Price Point. That means our artists should not be expecting MORE. If we earn $250 or $1,000 for a particular game, how can we possibly expect to pay art budgets of $6,000 to $8,000???

Seriously this industry is a real joke. Take a look at this thread:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1334997/publisher-or-se...

Even though the royalties vary, let's say as a Designer I earn $1.00 for every game sold. That means if an initial print run is 2,000 units, I get $2,000. Meanwhile my artist is earning $6,000 to $8,000?! How does that seem to be FAIR?!?!

I think the game is part game and part design, there should be an equal opportunity to earn money. So if I am paid $2,000, my artist should expect to be paid around the same amount. If I have designed 100 cards, there are 100 cards to illustrate, $20-$25 for each drawing seems to be a reasonable expectation.

Then again, maybe our industry is not designed for hiring the best artists...! A ARTWORK BUDGET is the best way to go (IMHO).
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questccg wrote:
komicer wrote:
As an art agent (of sorts), I'm in opinion that 100 is too low a price for commercial art. A more appropriate pricing starts from 350 onwards.

Do consider how important art and visuals is in attracting others to BUY your product. You will definitely want to get the best illustrator who is willing to put in time and effort into getting the art right for your purpose. Especially for an industry which visuals is very important in grabbing attention, art shouldn't be something you skim on.

Otherwise artists will all just go work with bigger companies that are willing to pay a fair wage.


Well I think you need to take a look at the "BIGGER PICTURE". And if we, as Designers, are being asked to get 4% of Distributors' Price Point. That means our artists should not be expecting MORE. If we earn $250 or $1,000 for a particular game, how can we possibly expect to pay art budgets of $6,000 to $8,000???

Seriously this industry is a real joke. Take a look at this thread:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1334997/publisher-or-se...

Even though the royalties vary, let's say as a Designer I earn $1.00 for every game sold. That means if an initial print run is 2,000 units, I get $2,000. Meanwhile my artist is earning $6,000 to $8,000?! How does that seem to be FAIR?!?!

I think the game is part game and part design, there should be an equal opportunity to earn money. So if I am paid $2,000, my artist should expect to be paid around the same amount. If I have designed 100 cards, there are 100 cards to illustrate, $20-$25 for each drawing seems to be a reasonable expectation.

Then again, maybe our industry is not designed for hiring the best artists...! A ARTWORK BUDGET is the best way to go (IMHO).


You're paying for a service/product. That either has a value or doesn't. How much money you specifically are making isn't relevant. You get what you pay for.

You wouldn't go to a printer/factory and tell them you're only making 200$ on your game, and so you're not willing to pay them more than what you're earning yoruself. It's totally besides the point.
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dennisthebadger wrote:
...You wouldn't go to a printer/factory and tell them you're only making 200$ on your game, and so you're not willing to pay them more than what you're earning yourself. It's totally besides the point...


No I probably wouldn't go through years of effort if all I'm getting in the end is $200. At least that's what most people would say. I wouldn't place a $10,000 order to 2,000 copies of my game, knowing in the end that all that will probably only earn me $200. That for Heaven's Sake doesn't even cover the cost for my game's prototypes.

Perhaps I had not expressed myself clearly: if you are collaborating on a project, all parties should expect to make some profit. Because if not it's like saying a Designer's service or effort is not worth anything. But hey, the game has amazing artwork!

 
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questccg wrote:
dennisthebadger wrote:
...You wouldn't go to a printer/factory and tell them you're only making 200$ on your game, and so you're not willing to pay them more than what you're earning yourself. It's totally besides the point...


No I probably wouldn't go through years of effort if all I'm getting in the end is $200. At least that's what most people would say. I wouldn't place a $10,000 order to 2,000 copies of my game, knowing in the end that all that will probably only earn me $200. That for Heaven's Sake doesn't even cover the cost for my game's prototypes.

Perhaps I had not expressed myself clearly: if you are collaborating on a project, all parties should expect to make some profit. Because if not it's like saying a Designer's service or effort is not worth anything. But hey, the game has amazing artwork!



But are you "collaborating" or are you just hiring somebody for their service?
 
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dennisthebadger wrote:

But are you "collaborating" or are you just hiring somebody for their service?


From my experience having been a hobbyist artist for many years, and speaking from the point of view of someone whose partner does freelance artwork, I'd agree almost completely with Dennis in this thread.

"Collaborating" is where both partners share the work and both partners share the profits. Some board game projects work like that - where the artist is as invested in the project as the designer is and willing to work for low/no pay up-front and just get paid as the profits trickle in, and if the artist signs up for that, then that's fine.

But if the artist is being paid up-front with a fixed fee for a fixed service, they're no more a "collaborator" in your project than your printer or your distributor is - and you can bet that your printer and your distributor get paid more than you do as a designer, and you suck it up because you need them.

You also need the artist. Sure, they're not burning through commodity resources which need to be paid for, but they are burning through time that they could be spending doing something else that pays better, and they still need to eat. And you still need them because no matter how awesome your game, only two people will buy it if it's just blank white cards with poorly-aligned words on.







Now, there definitely is a balance to be made, when pricing art. There are definitely artists who work slowly enough and/or badly enough that the prices they have to charge to make minimum wage seem too high to the majority of the marketplace - and it's not necessarily a bad thing that nobody hires those artists until they practice, speed up, improve their artwork and generate the value other people need at a fast enough rate for their business to be viable compared to a McJob, that's just how markets work (and I'm no laissez-faire capitalist).

But there are also too many patrons who have no idea how long it takes to make art (and why!), and therefore have this blasé attitude that a specially-commissioned piece of work with exclusive rights should cost no more than a poster print of an Old Master, because - you know - they're both pictures, right? Those people either learn to respect the amount of work that goes into the art they want, or they put up with poor quality art that matches the price they're willing to pay, or they're idiots who complain endlessly on Internet forums.
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Jake,

You've summed-up the thread...it's either a collaborative or arms-length relationship.

Cheers,
Joe
 
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