I keep seeing posts floating round about getting paid a fair price for artwork, and I just have to say how much I agree with arguing for a fair price, especially if someone is contacting YOU, for YOUR work. It’s actually the biggest reason I’m not doing more straight up illustration stuff anymore, and why I currently work as a jewelry designer/modeler (not that this is a less stressful job…if anything it’s more stressful, but at the end of the day I know I have a paycheck). People didn’t want to pay me fairly, and a lot of time, really not at all (starting with an internship I worked way too hard at in college, that benefitted me in no meaningful way, and hilariously, was at a company where the boss, a teacher, should have known better than to exploit his students). Right now, I’m not particularly doing the stuff I want to be doing, but I am designing, drawing,and sculpting, I’m getting paid a decent amount, and I am actually learning the things I was promised when I accepted the job. When I accepted an internship in school (I didn’t go to them, they ASKED me to interview for it), I had been told it was paid before the interview, and then at the end of the interview, told that it wasn’t (that it was for credits I didn’t actually need, instead, and was led to believe I needed to go through my school to do this internship), but they asked me what I wanted to learn. I said I’d like to learn digital (illustration) better, and they promised to do this, as they did have two very talented in-house illustrators, and absolutely didn’t deliver, at all. I put up with my boss constantly telling me every. single. piece. I did was terrible and how much he hated it, even though they used some of it, and also technically stole a few drawings they promised to ‘just scan’ and never returned. I thought they were terrible drawings anyway, that I had almost no direction on (except that they were obviously wrong in every way possible, of course), but I did a lot of the work on those drawings after the internship was technically over, because of the oft implied notion that I could be offered more jobs or even a permanent in-house position. I realized very quickly that this wasn’t to be the case. To be honest, I guess I really did learn something meaningful from it after all: don’t do work without getting paid; it’s only going to hurt you.
I get emails from prospective ‘clients’, who want me to do work for ‘exposure’ and the like, or people who want to pay me like 10 bucks for a character pin-up, in full color, from a mere description. Like, that’s pretty much a character design job without the full turnaround. I can’t even begin to assume what your are going to use it for either, and can’t pretend I’m gonna look you up on a regular basis to see what the hell you’re doing with it. 10 dollars just isn’t worth my time, or even a response. It’s an insult. I got entirely fed up with people contacting me with ‘jobs’, wasting my time with signing nondisclosures concerning their product lines, keeping me on the phone for like two and a half hours, telling me all about their business plan, sending me product specs and guidelines, and then dropping the bomb that I need to work for them for free for ‘just a while’, even though they literally just explained that they have a huge amount of money to pump into this whole thing. Just not money for me, the person who’d be ‘indispensable’ in creating the image selling their product.
And don’t even get me started on comics. Yes, I still want to do comics. Another reason I hardly post on here is because I’ve been busy trying to write and conceptualize a big long thing that’s gonna take probably forever and I am not even sure if I can handle it (so, really I’m still doing a lot of drawing, just stuff I’m not showing). I would absolutely love to work with a writing/drawing partner, and have tried, miserably, despairingly, and with utter failure, to find one. But the only people that really approached(as in hiring) me, were writers who didn’t actually want my input, they just wanted me (again) to listen to their plan for two plus hours, and draw their mostly (totally) terrible ideas for free. ”Oh, you want me to draw the slice-of-life misadventures of a testicle-themed superhero based on you and your friends’ experiences as security guards? Uh…great??? And I’ll get paid once the comic sells?…Uhhhhhhhh.” Did I mention that’s the summary of a REAL conversation spread over three hour-long phone calls? I should mention that part of why it went over three calls is that the ‘writer’s’ paranoid wife was apparently thought the whole thing was a ruse in which he was cheating on her, or I was using my feminine wiles to seduce him, and the calls were basically being made clandestinely while she was indisposed. I wish I was clever enough to make that up. I’m not.
I wouldn’t hate the idea of foregoing immediate payment if a partner wasn’t just looking for artistic slave-labor, and really wanted to collaborate, or at least offer to pitch in a few bucks for models, or—-for pity’s sake—-doesn’t have an idea where a ‘chosen one’ has a mentor named ‘Morpheus’ (again, yes, this happened, I am cringing to my very innermost soul thinking about it.) I’m not even against foregoing payment altogether if someone wants a pinup or splash for a comic or novel they’re actually producing, or doing work on things that are actually going to be beneficial to both the partner and me, but this is rarely the case for people asking for free work.
Let’s not forget the flattering ‘I saw this piece you did like four years ago and have been trying to track you down to work for me ever since!’ Oh, well, okay then, a four year quest must have some legitimacy attached to it, let’s hear it. Oh, you want me to design a fully detailed tattoo sleeve that extends over your shoulder blades and onto your fingers…for no more than 50 dollars? Well, huh. I think your princess is in another castle. I’ve gotten a lot of these. I get that tattoos are expensive and I AM flattered you’d consider my artwork for something so permanently attached to your person and character, but I’m also insulted you would at the same time consider the artist’s effort so worthless.
I hate sounding so mean about it, but really, I didn’t spend four mostly miserable years (that internship bitterness barely breaks the surface on that whole experience) at a somewhat terrible college getting a degree (that I question the legitimacy of every month when I pay my student loan) so you can try to flatter me into providing you work—-actual work, wherein I use my skills that took time and money to hone, that you claim to respect enough to want representative of your idea—-for free. I can’t do creative work for 8 hours, and come home to work on someone else’s dreams for free, when I can be working on my own. It’s not even like I’m some super huge celebrity artist, I wouldn’t even list myself on the lowest brick of a pyramid of obscure but followed artists, maybe like a slightly brick-shaped clump of mud on the bottom of a swamp on the same planet as aforementioned pyramid, but I still WORK on the things I produce, and if you want them, you can pay for them.