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    Article: I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script

    Reposted from here: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runnin...ead.php?page=1
    Sent to me by: http://urban-barbarian.deviantart.com/

    Read it and replace it with Artwork Spec

    We know you've been working very hard on your screenplay, but before you go looking for some professional feedback, you might keep in mind the following piece by A History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson.


    ​I will not read your fucking script.

    That's simple enough, isn't it? "I will not read your fucking script." What's not clear about that? There's nothing personal about it, nothing loaded, nothing complicated. I simply have no interest in reading your fucking screenplay. None whatsoever.

    If that seems unfair, I'll make you a deal. In return for you not asking me to read your fucking script, I will not ask you to wash my fucking car, or take my fucking picture, or represent me in fucking court, or take out my fucking gall bladder, or whatever the fuck it is that you do for a living.

    You're a lovely person. Whatever time we've spent together has, I'm sure, been pleasurable for both of us. I quite enjoyed that conversation we once had about structure and theme, and why Sergio Leone is the greatest director who ever lived. Yes, we bonded, and yes, I wish you luck in all your endeavors, and it would thrill me no end to hear that you had sold your screenplay, and that it had been made into the best movie since Godfather Part II.

    But I will not read your fucking script.

    At this point, you should walk away, firm in your conviction that I'm a dick. But if you're interested in growing as a human being and recognizing that it is, in fact, you who are the dick in this situation, please read on.

    Yes. That's right. I called you a dick. Because you created this situation. You put me in this spot where my only option is to acquiesce to your demands or be the bad guy. That, my friend, is the very definition of a dick move.

    I was recently cornered by a young man of my barest acquaintance.

    I doubt we've exchanged a hundred words. But he's dating someone I know, and he cornered me in the right place at the right time, and asked me to read a two-page synopsis for a script he'd been working on for the last year. He was submitting the synopsis to some contest or program, and wanted to get a professional opinion.

    Now, I normally have a standard response to people who ask me to read their scripts, and it's the simple truth: I have two piles next to my bed. One is scripts from good friends, and the other is manuscripts and books and scripts my agents have sent to me that I have to read for work. Every time I pick up a friend's script, I feel guilty that I'm ignoring work. Every time I pick something up from the other pile, I feel guilty that I'm ignoring my friends. If I read yours before any of that, I'd be an awful person.

    Most people get that. But sometimes you find yourself in a situation where the guilt factor is really high, or someone plays on a relationship or a perceived obligation, and it's hard to escape without seeming rude. Then, I tell them I'll read it, but if I can put it down after ten pages, I will. They always go for that, because nobody ever believes you can put their script down once you start.

    But hell, this was a two page synopsis, and there was no time to go into either song or dance, and it was just easier to take it. How long can two pages take?

    Weeks, is the answer.

    And this is why I will not read your fucking script.

    It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you're in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't.

    (By the way, here's a simple way to find out if you're a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you're not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)

    You may want to allow for the fact that this fellow had never written a synopsis before, but that doesn't excuse the inability to form a decent sentence, or an utter lack of facility with language and structure. The story described was clearly of great importance to him, but he had done nothing to convey its specifics to an impartial reader. What I was handed was, essentially, a barely coherent list of events, some connected, some not so much. Characters wander around aimlessly, do things for no reason, vanish, reappear, get arrested for unnamed crimes, and make wild, life-altering decisions for no reason. Half a paragraph is devoted to describing the smell and texture of a piece of food, but the climactic central event of the film is glossed over in a sentence. The death of the hero is not even mentioned. One sentence describes a scene he's in, the next describes people showing up at his funeral. I could go on, but I won't. This is the sort of thing that would earn you a D minus in any Freshman Comp class.

    Which brings us to an ugly truth about many aspiring screenwriters: They think that screenwriting doesn't actually require the ability to write, just the ability to come up with a cool story that would make a cool movie. Screenwriting is widely regarded as the easiest way to break into the movie business, because it doesn't require any kind of training, skill or equipment. Everybody can write, right? And because they believe that, they don't regard working screenwriters with any kind of real respect. They will hand you a piece of inept writing without a second thought, because you do not have to be a writer to be a screenwriter.

    So. I read the thing. And it hurt, man. It really hurt. I was dying to find something positive to say, and there was nothing. And the truth is, saying something positive about this thing would be the nastiest, meanest and most dishonest thing I could do. Because here's the thing: not only is it cruel to encourage the hopeless, but you cannot discourage a writer. If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you're not a writer. If I can talk you out of being a writer, I've done you a favor, because now you'll be free to pursue your real talent, whatever that may be. And, for the record, everybody has one. The lucky ones figure out what that is. The unlucky ones keep on writing shitty screenplays and asking me to read them.

    To make matters worse, this guy (and his girlfriend) had begged me to be honest with him. He was frustrated by the responses he'd gotten from friends, because he felt they were going easy on him, and he wanted real criticism. They never do, of course. What they want is a few tough notes to give the illusion of honesty, and then some pats on the head. What they want--always--is encouragement, even when they shouldn't get any.
    Do you have any idea how hard it is to tell someone that they've spent a year wasting their time? Do you know how much blood and sweat goes into that criticism? Because you want to tell the truth, but you want to make absolutely certain that it comes across honestly and without cruelty. I did more rewrites on that fucking e-mail than I did on my last three studio projects.

    My first draft was ridiculous. I started with specific notes, and after a while, found I'd written three pages on the first two paragraphs. That wasn't the right approach. So I tossed it, and by the time I was done, I'd come up with something that was relatively brief, to the point, and considerate as hell. The main point I made was that he'd fallen prey to a fallacy that nails a lot of first timers. He was way more interested in telling his one story than in being a writer. It was like buying all the parts to a car and starting to build it before learning the basics of auto mechanics. You'll learn a lot along the way, I said, but you'll never have a car that runs.

    (I should mention that while I was composing my response, he pulled the ultimate amateur move, and sent me an e-mail saying, "If you haven't read it yet, don't! I have a new draft. Read this!" In other words, "The draft I told you was ready for professional input, wasn't actually.")

    I advised him that if all he was interested in was this story, he should find a writer and work with him; or, if he really wanted to be a writer, start at the beginning and take some classes, and start studying seriously.

    And you know what? I shouldn't have bothered. Because for all the hair I pulled out, for all the weight and seriousness I gave his request for a real, professional critique, his response was a terse "Thanks for your opinion." And, the inevitable fallout--a week later a mutual friend asked me, "What's this dick move I hear you pulled on Whatsisname?"
    So now this guy and his girlfriend think I'm an asshole, and the truth of the matter is, the story really ended the moment he handed me the goddamn synopsis. Because if I'd just said "No" then and there, they'd still think I'm an asshole. Only difference is, I wouldn't have had to spend all that time trying to communicate thoughtfully and honestly with someone who just wanted a pat on the head, and, more importantly, I wouldn't have had to read that godawful piece of shit.

    You are not owed a read from a professional, even if you think you have an in, and even if you think it's not a huge imposition. It's not your choice to make. This needs to be clear--when you ask a professional for their take on your material, you're not just asking them to take an hour or two out of their life, you're asking them to give you--gratis--the acquired knowledge, insight, and skill of years of work. It is no different than asking your friend the house painter to paint your living room during his off hours.

    There's a great story about Pablo Picasso. Some guy told Picasso he'd pay him to draw a picture on a napkin. Picasso whipped out a pen and banged out a sketch, handed it to the guy, and said, "One million dollars, please."

    "A million dollars?" the guy exclaimed. "That only took you thirty seconds!"

    "Yes," said Picasso. "But it took me fifty years to learn how to draw that in thirty seconds."

    Like the cad who asks the professional for a free read, the guy simply didn't have enough respect for the artist to think about what he was asking for. If you think it's only about the time, then ask one of your non-writer friends to read it. Hell, they might even enjoy your script. They might look upon you with a newfound respect. It could even come to pass that they call up a friend in the movie business and help you sell it, and soon, all your dreams will come true. But me?

    I will not read your fucking script.

    Josh Olson's screenplay for the film A History of Violence was nominated for the Academy Award, the BAFTA, the WGA award and the Edgar. He is also the writer and director of the horror/comedy cult movie Infested, which Empire Magazine named one of the 20 Best Straight to Video Movies ever made. Recently, he has written with the legendary Harlan Ellison, and worked on Halo with Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp. He adapted Dennis Lehane's story "Until Gwen," which he will also be directing. He is currently adapting One Shot, one of the best-selling Jack Reacher books for Paramount.

    ©2009 Josh Olson. All rights reserved.


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  4. #2
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    great read.. and oh so true....

    "How do you know you're good enough?" "You know." "What if you're wrong?" "You find out."

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  6. #3
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    slightly off topic but i did read....

    when i read the title i thought html not movie scripts though. i laughed...

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  8. #4
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    yes. everything: yes.

    the last two weeks alone:
    No, I won't draw characters from your gay love fanfic, who are you again?
    No, I won't help you animating this fruitless labor intensive part.
    No, you are a person I've never seen before but you talked two sentences with my mom, I won't draw your little niece that fish from Arielle.
    No, I don't have time to do a whole damn comic book in black and white just that you can color all pages and probably make it worse and call yourself co-author.
    No, I won't make little illustrations and design your website, here is the link to a buddy who takes 300 € for the work you are asking me for.

    (all of these were questions very kindly denied, those are just my thoughts when anyone comes to me and asks for something really stupid)

    People think because I'm an art student I love doing stuff for free or "for my portfolio".
    It goes even so far that last week I decided that I don't want to help my fellow student buddies and not-so-close friends anymore.
    If I ever try to help out a little bit it's always a "thank you" and a kick in the bum.
    Worst case is if you get the people who wanted help offended because the work you do for them is too good.
    Last edited by Kiera; September 11th, 2009 at 05:34 AM.
    I just took a break to post this.
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    danvancool Thanks a lot for the post. It really gave me a good idea how to address professional artists. Although this is written by a professional writer, it sure does apply to every professional there is. The last bit of Picasso really put things into perspective. Thanks for a nice start of my day

    Kiera Will you do a animated gay fanfic with Arielle in a black and white comic book style after you design my website pls? Just kidding! ^_^ (but you know that right?)

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    Will you do a animated gay fanfic with Arielle in a black and white comic book style after you design my website pls?
    hey, this sounds like a great idea, I can imagine something great coming out of this, sad thing is that I'm really busy right now but I will keep that in mind.
    Can you ask me in half a year, I think that's then I will have more time C:


    (that one is my standard denial sentence, for good ideas and projects as well as pure garbage. And it's the truth really.
    I really don't have time and you can make the best stuff out of ideas that look awful on first glance. When I'm really honest I say something like "sounds ok, but at the moment I have other ideas for projects that I want to do first"
    Usually I'm the most blunt and honest person but you can never be too careful when it comes to other people's dreams, hopes and ideas)
    Last edited by Kiera; September 11th, 2009 at 06:34 AM.
    I just took a break to post this.
    But sometimes I also draw stuff

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    As an amateur writer I agree with all of that and it translates pretty well to the world of artwork. I've got something in my inbox now; a guy emailed saying he liked my stuff. I'd replied to thank him and now I get an email with a link to his site and a request to crit him, especially pieces X, Y and Z. I don't think he's a dick or anything, just that he didn't put much thought into what he was asking and failed to realise that because I can't afford the time to perform this type of service, he's making me look rude, through no fault of my own, when I'm forced to deny his request.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiera View Post
    It goes even so far that last week I decided that I don't want to help my fellow student buddies and not-so-close friends anymore
    My issue is not so much with individuals but with companies who should know better. Often magazines, publications and sites have asked me for (existing) artwork and / or interview material - for no pay - which most of the time I've been happy to give them. Fine. The problem is not the arrangement - I'm well able to weigh up genuine exposure vs no pay and make a decision - it's the way that some of these people deal with the artist.

    The pattern is very similar. Initially all emails are replied to within a few minutes or hours, and they are very attentive to questions and matters of clarification. I do the work, submit it, and... silence. Literally not even an email to say, "Got it, thanks". Sometimes I spend hours answering questions and formatting artwork, and always submit work to exact spec and way ahead of deadline. And when the article is published I don't even get a heads-up or a copy of the mag. A few months down the line a friend emails and says, Nice article, and I'm like - what article? Or I see it on the shelves and think, Hmm, maybe a free copy would have been nice, or at the very least an email saying thanks. Then times passes and another email arrives from the same bunch, "I wonder if you'd like to submit..."

    I mean, I've been in the customer service business one way or another for 20 years and I've never once failed to reply to, or acknowledge, a genuine email (unless there was some kind of email fault or whatever). And let's tot that up, I reckon a conservative estimate would be 50,000 emails. So no, it's not tricky.

    Sure, not all are like this (e.g. take a bow 2DArtist, Ballistic, ILEX and others) but I find the prevalence of such behaviour very disheartening. In future, I will be much more selective about who I help out because frankly, I don't like being taken for an (or up the) ass.

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    And when the article is published I don't even get a heads-up or a copy of the mag.
    "Be happy that you are allowed to do work for our magazine, think of the exposure you get"
    (yeah.. sure)

    reminds me a bit of this article
    (it's written a bit radical but that's how many people or companies treat artists)
    I just took a break to post this.
    But sometimes I also draw stuff

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcpahl View Post
    A great read, but this irks me. If there's one reason artists don't get no respect these days, it's gotta be Picasso, and I don't believe he spent 50 years learning to draw like a 4 year old. That hack is a big part of the reason I can't tell people I'm an artist without them thinking I make lawn gnomes out of macaroni or something. /nerdrage
    The reason is not Picasso. The reason are people who want to be Picasso.
    He actually was a very gifted painter and started with his abstrahism later.

    The people today however start to vomit on canvas right away. Motto is "every one can do art" as if art is something like wiping your ass with toilet paper.

    They will spend 5 minutes splashing and smearing on the canvas and then another 6 hours writing 2 pages of text telling the deeper meaning of their paintings....
    Total Bullshit!
    And before you jump out of you panties juding my opinion, you should know that i like abstract art, i just do not see every kind of shit people hang on their walls as art.
    There is art and there is crap, simple as that.
    Last edited by Randis; September 11th, 2009 at 07:55 PM.
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2a8TRSgzZY

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whoa do just 5 minutes of research jcpahl. And the attitude you get from your friends is common for someone who hasn't found a good way to explain to his friends what he does.

The art of WoW shut my friends up

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  • #12
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    Randis - Whilst I personally don't like all of Picasso, just out of interest, have you ever seen 'Guernica' up close? It's incredible, and emotional, and not merely because of the size, but because of what it depicts and Picasso's cubism works fantastically compositionally and narratively. Abstract isn't all vomit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcpahl View Post
    ... and I don't believe he spent 50 years learning to draw like a 4 year old.
    Ouch! That hurt you know?

    His paintings may look like child drawings to you, but it takes a whole lot of time and effort to reach a certain point of abstraction. Abstract art may look like it's easy, but it deals with the same problems figurative painters use too. It might be a little harder to attain but the same basics apply.

    For example:
    Article: I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script

    Des mademoiselles d'avignon of Picasso looks childish. But think about it. Why did he place every part on the place it put now. Why is there blue in the painting is it's about the prostitutes he shows. Actually, I've seen a documentary about this painting. The docu was over an hour and it was mentioned Picasso worked over a year on sketches and tryouts of the composition and abstraction to achieve what you see before you. A whole year just to get an idea what you want and get something that is composed very well.

    Well...I don't see any concept artist do that any day soon. It's just something to think about and to research. Abstract art is far more than meets the eye.

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    Dead over thirty five years and still derailing threads... I'd like to see any of you do better.

    Can we please get back to complaining about clueless people?

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    No, I won't paint a portrait of your beautiful, precious child for free from a crappy flash photograph, no I won't help you "visualize" your generic fanfic character, and no I won't do a free cover for the book you haven't even finished one chapter of. ....erg

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  • #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiera View Post
    I'm not sure if hate is the best way to get a tolerant and creative community of artists... and acceptance for people who actually want to live of it or who like abstract (you know, not everything can be concept art).

    JUST TO MAKE THINGS CLEAR

    Please don't get me wrong.
    The brain vomit was not a negative remark, it meant to express his crazy idea of expression not the quality or value of his work. I respect his art and never said otherwise.

    I do respect and like abstract art, tho i divide it in 3 groups
    - ART
    - Design
    - BS

    There are many very awesome abtract artists who do a great job expressing and telling stories in their very own twisted way, It catches your eyes and moves your soul or at the very least it translates the mood. This for me is Art.

    The other group is more like design, it looks good on a wall in your office and most of the artists who do this kind of work tend to call them self designer more than artist

    The only problem i have with is the BS group.
    And i can personally assure you i have heard it from the so called artists them self first hand.
    Random quote:

    hah, i just spank the color on the canvas, smear here and there and this is it, then my agent will write some BS text explaining and giving the random dots meaning. Ah look at the circle, its the symbol of the eternal sun blablabla.
    Sold a f*****g X (painted with 2 strokes) on a 2x2 meter canvas for 10k euro, now that is easy cash.

    You would not believe half the crap i heard from some of the people who sell their pics in galleries for more than others earn in 5 month working.


    I do not judge what art is and what is not, but i do not run with the stream, that's for sure. If i like the image, then i like it for what i see and for what the image tells me and not for reading a 2 page essay that is hanging next to in on the wall, written by someone whois not even the creator of this very image.


    Ok, back on topic!

    It was a good read and i totally agree here. I have seen some interview with a director who had a very similar statement,
    i think this can be applied to pretty much all creative jobs.

    Hey can you paint me? can you paint my cat? sure, if you sign your covers on a con you can as well make a quick scribble for the people, but private requests, no thank you.
    What i don't like is how some magazines work... they ask you to paint them a cover from scratch, in return they offer exposure, if you ask for money at least half of them will say.
    We are a very small magazine, we can not offer to pay anyone, we do it for the sake of creating this magazine and the sales barely cover the print costs...
    Right.... working on a non profit magazine full time while living in a big house, driving a fat benz...


    Tho in some cases it is a bit different i think. Hardly can apply it to online communities.
    If an Artists exhibits his work on a forum and asks people to comment his pictures he at some point also needs to give back to the community by taking his time and commenting the work of others. Doing that one by one is not always possible but contributing to the community is some form is a fair trade i think.
    Last edited by Randis; September 11th, 2009 at 09:50 AM.
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    Dan van... great article, thanks for posting it up. And lots of good replies on the topic. It seems we all have similar experiences that makes us want to put a fist through a wall.

    I just got a call last week from an old high school friend on behalf of his cousin, who is a writer in NYC. She needed a comic book artist to illustrate some articles. I specifically told him I will not do spec work and explained how often it happens that people ask for essentially free service and how when I was a kid I would do that, but not now. And he says "oh, if I know her, its paying work. Don't you worry. She's a pro!"

    And she was a pro. A pro who thinks that I want to spend days on an full page color illustration in the hopes that it will help sell a vacuous single page article it took her an hour to write to some downmarket indie magazine that otherwise isn't interested.

    Another acquaintance called me up and asked if I would paint a portrait of his mother from a photo for $100. I told him I don't even get out of bed for $100.

    I also got a call once from a friend who asked if I would pinstripe his dad's truck for $50. I told him I can't draw straight lines.

    A professor at a local college asked me to lecture his class last semester. I pretended not to notice he was implying I do it for free. So I asked him, "what's your budget for this kind of thing?" And he looked at me like a deer caught in headlights. So I said, "your school does have a budget for speakers, doesn't it?" "Oh, it must, it must," he said.

    "Budget" is a great word to use in situations like this. "Do you have a budget for this," is usually the most effective single phrase to cut out all the bull in the quickest period of time. "What's your budget on this," is equally effective.

    Anyway...

    kev
    Last edited by kev ferrara; September 11th, 2009 at 11:11 AM.
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  • #18
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    Randis is offline ( ゚∀゚)/ ♥♥♥ おっぱい!おっぱい!
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post

    EDIT: Randis, are you trying to wallpaper ca with your posts? Could your links be ANY BIGGER?!
    Do you feel offended by my posts? And yes the size could go up to 7 i think, it could be way bigger (and in color)

    (i am used to old school forums where everyone had huge ass banners in the sig...
    after not being active much for years i guess i didn't give it much of a thought making it that huge i guess...
    if its offensive i shall tone it down)
    Last edited by Randis; September 11th, 2009 at 10:32 AM.
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  • #19
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    dan - that was epic man

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  • #20
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    I love this article!! Why aren't professionals in creative fields treated like any other professional ...
    Dr's and Lawyers aren't asked continuously for free advice.
    Kiera, I loved your post, so true!!
    My Cousin is a bio chemist, I always ask him to check on the small experiments I do in my basement, at least twice a week, mahaha!

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  • #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post

    "Budget" is a great word to use in situations like this. "Do you have a budget for this," is usually the most effective single phrase to cut out all the bull in the quickest period of time. "What's your budget on this," is equally effective.
    OMG YES! I'm totally going to use this phrase from now on. What an excellent suggestion!

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  • #22
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    It's so frustrating when people act like they're doing you a favor by offering you pro-bono work. As if an artist is utterly bored unless he's doing (charity) work for others.

    *sigh*

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  • #23
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    The problem of course is that so many people actually will do it for dirt cheap, so it's hard to know where to stand your ground.

  • #24
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    This was an interesting article but im really glad to see people being able to relate and give some opinions on the subject.
    Some of you I wish I could thank twice on some of the things you guys have said.

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    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    "Work is more fun than fun."
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    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
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  • #26
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    I get requests to do portraits, usually from snapshots where the head is the size of a dime. I especially like it when they say "Oh, don't spend more than an hour on it."

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  • #27
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    From "Best of Craigslist"

    Capitalist Endeavor seeking Poor Artist to be Taken Advantage of
    Date: 2009-01-24, 12:16AM PST

    New Business that paid market rate for RENT, EQUIPMENT, PERMIT, MERCHANDISE, and HOURLY WORKERS is looking for a marginalized local artist to give us something for nothing.
    If you jump through the numerous demoralizing and moronic hoops we set before you while being dramatically under compensated we will surely spread the word to our other parasitic merchant contemporaries that you are willing to be treated like a sucker. As an American artist you better get used to it.

    * Location: Arcata/ HSU
    * Compensation: Day Old Bagels and Scorn
    * This is a part-time job.
    * Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
    * Please, no phone calls about this job!
    * Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

    PostingID: 1005451723

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  • #28
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    Bill & hippl5

    Stellar Comments, haha

  • #29
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    awesome and so true

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  • #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by R a n d i s View Post
    The reason is not Picasso. The reason are people who want to be Picasso.
    He actually was a very gifted painter and started with his abstract vomit later.

    The people today however start to vomit on canvas right away. Motto is "every one can do art" as if art is something like wiping your ass with toilet paper.

    They will spend 5 minutes splashing and smearing on the canvas and then another 6 hours writing 2 pages of text telling the deeper meaning of their painting....
    Any argument starting with "as if art was..." fails to keep an open discution. That suggests that YOU know better than generations of artists and philosophs what art is! Haha, sorry... that's a little bit hilarious.
    This attitude regarding abstract art and different forms of art seems to be quite a habit sometimes, through communauties of people who make a certain form of art, and it's sad i think. Sounds REALLY haughty and close minded.

    Just wanted to say that, don't feel forced to jump on it...
    Sketchbook :: Blog :: Gorilla Artfare :: Prints :: my Etsy
    koppa says:
    i could kick an eggs ass if i wanted to

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