Commercial art, money and clients
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Thread: Commercial art, money and clients

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    Commercial art, money and clients

    Being from a large country (USA) but living in a small one (Greece) has it's advantages and disadvantages. The most inportant for me is that here there is no training and no market for professional artists.

    Yet, there are 2-3 publishers here who translate, mostly American, fantasy books and comics. From these, the 2 either use the original art when it's cheap, or they just steal a cover from the net, who is gonna notice?

    One of them used some artists from time to time, so I sent them a message and a link to my gallery a few months back but never really cared since my freelance work is conducted with clients from other countries.

    Alas, I recieved a phone call from them asking me to go over and see them. Mind you these guys translate and publish both Marvel's and DC's comics here in Greece, the Tolkien novels and others and have most of the shelf space in books stores.

    The job offered is about making a cover for the new 'Dune' book called ' Paul of Dune'. Mysteriously they aren't using a local artist who they've worked with before and who is very good!

    They talked to me asking me what I can do, my turnaround time because the cover is needed ASAP. When we get to the part of money the art director tells me that they are offering a fixed price of 100 Euro!!! For a 'Dune' cover!!! And that's not all, they want me to send a couple of thumbnails, and they will select an artist from all who send in thumbnails. The excuse is that this job is good for me because I'll get exposure.

    Now for a little rant. Exposure? For what? These guys are one of the top 3 around here. Not to mention that they are one of the only 3! If these guys are offering only 100 euro, and that in form of a contest, how much less is anyone else in this place gonna offer? I have commissions designing private tattoos in black and white that take only 3-4 hours of my time and they make me more money, I have tattoo artists commissioning me to make posters for their shops that pay me more, even small RPG publishers pay more for art and these guys make millions and they wanna offer only 100 euro? End of rant.

    This goes out to all the artists who are younger professionally than me. I am a beginner. I have good qualities but still have much to learn and more to do. But I learned one thing first. Our art makes things sell. It helps others make money. The joy of our art comes when we make it. We can make it for ourselves. As soon as we start making money off it, the business mode must emerge and we must know that selling ourselves cheap won't get us anywhere. Econimocal crashes are all just mumbo jumbo excuses from those who have the big bucks to squeeze more out of you. Don't buy into it. If a client has time and money to invest in gaining the rights to 'Dune' he's got more than 100 euro to pay you. If that small new time publisher is working on a graphic novel and it's a 'labor of love', then he can go out less, buy a less expensive pair of jeans and not blast 100 gallons of gas per day, to afford to pay more than $50 for a whole graphic novel. Otherwise...his love means less to him than it does to us.


    I'm not the greatist artist around...yet...but I'm not going to do stuff that's going to destroy my finacial future as a professional artist, the present and future of those artists who are ahead of me and the future of those artists who will become professionals later on. Each pro, new or old, must think of him/herself, sure, but also has a responsibility towards other artists.

    There are clients out there that are great. They trust you, they work hard with you and pay you more than you ask for. These clients also treat you professionally and with respect. These guys you work hard with, you put more into the work and you are proud of it. These clients you take care of.

    I hope some of the ones who are younger professionally than I am, get what I am saying. I hope those of you who are seasoned pro's spend a moment to add to this, even with a link to an article or something. Because, it's good to know how to make art, but it's also good to know how to sell it, and when to not sell it.

    And just in case you didn't get it, I am not sending any art to this 'client'.

    "Don't judge a book by it's cover" Frank Frazetta 1928-2010
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    Randis is offline ( ゚∀゚)/ ♥♥♥ おっぱい!おっぱい! Level 13 Gladiator: Retiarius
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    i dont lift my ass out of my bad for such money... 100 euro, shamless....

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    Out of curiosity, what is a fair price for something like that?

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    Well, think that a color cover for an average RPG publisher starts at the $400 range, and we're not talking about anything spectacular.

    Now for this, even if it is for a small target group, it should be at least in the 400 euro range (around $520).

    As I said before, if a small tattoo store can afford 200 or 300 euro for a promotional poster, so can a major publisher that is publishing 'Dune'. And it's 'Dune', not peanuts.

    "Don't judge a book by it's cover" Frank Frazetta 1928-2010
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    Most people don't even know that the cover artist/designer is often mentioned in the colophon.

    Mention "Josh Kirby" or "Paul Kidby" and a likely response is: "Who?"

    Or try "Chip Kidd" and you could even with up with "What?" because people don't recognize he's a human being and not a company.

    The moment somebody props up exposure as an argument to pay you next to nothing for a cover illustration just ask them: "Do you know who created the cover illustration for the Harry Potter books?" and you most probably will see that this person's view regarding the glorious benefits of exposure is rather optimistic.

    Somebody who knows of the worth of a good cover won't just throw spare change in your direction if they really want to work with you. They will have a real budget. From their point of view it is an investment to facilitate more sales of a given book and not just a pretty picture on the front.

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    Makes me wanna make a typical Greek jab..(not here though)

    Tell you what though, money doesn't smell. I understand artists need to have a sense of monetary self-value to survive on their art, but unless you are occupied with other higher paying comissions, don't shy away from a Dune cover as a cool portfolio piece first, and 100 euro pocket money second.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kraus View Post
    Makes me wanna make a typical Greek jab..(not here though)

    Tell you what though, money doesn't smell. I understand artists need to have a sense of monetary self-value to survive on their art, but unless you are occupied with other higher paying comissions, don't shy away from a Dune cover as a cool portfolio piece first, and 100 euro pocket money second.
    1)
    time = money
    working on 2 well payed projects and doing a cover for 100? that will greatly reduce the other rates as you have to calculate your total work time and monthly income. That is if you are a professional and not some hobbyist who takes on 50 $ jobs on weekend.

    2)
    underpricing will get you some jobs if you are desperate but will hurt you and the industry greatly in long term.
    Top level artists who are good nuf to take on cover jobs or box art for large IP should not be in need to work for 5$ an hour, Hell a waiter earns better than that.
    If i want to spend a whole weekend earning 100 euro i go work in a restaurant and dont practice like a monkey for 10-20 years to be able to do what i do.

    3)
    Client stock is a very important thing for a freelance, you need to build relationship to your clients and have regulars. Doing a job for a spit of cash you can not expect the same client to give you any better jobs in the future.

    4) stupidity,
    Doing a job for pocket money while others would get 10 - 30 times as much for the same work is plain stupid, period.

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    Use the Voice on them, and if that fails it's out with the Gom Jabbar until they submit.

    Seriously though, quick turnaround, known author, national distribution, cover, for €1000... sounds good - no, wait, what? €100!? ROFL

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    here are some lil tips about rates.

    First have a look at your work, is your work pro quality?
    Even if you work for a game dev studio it does not mean you are a pro designer, if you cant paint all that well, you will not get the jobs with high rates, simple as that.

    When you start out as a freelance and you are good enough to place your work on the market then you need to think what rates would make you happy.

    You start calculating....
    1) how many jobs are you getting in 1 month? what kind of jobs are you doing mostly? Small jobs/single illustration or working on several 2-3 week - 1-2 month jobs at the same time?
    2) what are your living costs, food, rent, car? Do you have any kids? Add 10 years to your age and calculate how it will be supporting a family, having pats, a house, kids.
    Having holidays sometimes, saving up cash for a bad case of illness.
    Do not forget the cost for your hardware upgrades, software costs and do not forget that you will have deduct the TAX,
    Then think about retirement plan too, you will need cash when you are old.

    3) break down or costs and see what you would need to charge for the jobs to maintain your life. Do not calculate your expenses like someone who lives at their parents home.

    Ask yourself why did you become an illustrator/concept artist, what ambitions do you have? Do you feel like a person who can paint on a rather high quality level should work like a robot 14 h a day just to be able to afford a 30 square meters apartment and fast food? Try to see the bigger picture.

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    Randis has it all right there. But Randis is also top of the line illustrator. It depends also on your situation man... since you're in Europe, yes, they are kind of ripping you off. But if the same publisher would be here in Ecuador (average salary is 250$ a month), I'd be all over the opportunity. If I were you I'd take the work. 5 hours of illustrating for 100€ isn't so bad IMO.

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    Those "contest" things are often scams to get free art... Sometimes publishers will hold a "contest", pick what they like out of the submissions, and then get some hack to rip it off for cheap. Or they'll just use your art and not pay anything.

    I don't think the old gag of "you should do it cheap because it's good exposure" has ever had good results for anyone. The problem with doing something for someone for cheap is that they'll never want to pay you higher prices after that. The only time cheap/pro bono work is maybe a good idea is if you have absolute, total creative control AND it's a project you really want to do AND you know it will get you good exposure (in which case you can treat it as self-marketing,) or if you're doing something as a donation for a charity you want to support.

    Incidentally, the Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Guidelines lists book cover illustration fees at about $1000 - $4000, NOT counting extra fees for rush jobs etc. That's one THOUSAND, not one HUNDRED. 100 Euros is peanuts. I charged more than that on small design jobs when I was in college, for goodness sake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GriNGo View Post
    If I were you I'd take the work. 5 hours of illustrating for 100 isn't so bad IMO.
    It isn't but he'd want to spend a heck of lot longer than five hours on it. I often spend longer than that preparing my references. If this was a hobbyist publisher on a shoestring budget, and nothing better was presenting itself, then I'd say consider negotiating. But it isn't, it's (allegedly) a big national publisher with a known author and a popular title. As it is, if he takes this job as stated he'd be bending over and inviting ass invasion.

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    I wasn't good when i was younger. When starting out it is always wise to seek a studio job first 1) for experience and contacts 2) to get a steady income while taking your time to develop your skills.

    If you are sure to finish the job in 5 h, there might be nothing wrong to take on small fish, small cash adds..
    Mini jobs like doing some small gfx for mobile games or some website banner for small $ is ok but a cover? nope
    You will see that clients who offer bad rates also usually have a very unprofessional way of working. Getting the job done in 5h is unlikely... You will spend time doing the roughs, then they will let you change the crap out of it, you will have downtime waiting for the feedback, you will also most likely end up doing changes on the final Image... what you have hoped to do in 5 h can quickly become a weekend and a allnighter. That means you have lost lots of time and your moral will go down, you will have a bad taste having worked so much for so little and over a long periode of time that will add to your burnout.

    It is true that in some countries the market is weak and rates are bad but it usually never goes for the whole market, you need to widen your client search and you will find gold if you dig hard enough.
    I am based in Thailand now for example. I can tell you that local clients for this sort of jobs will pay even less than 100 euro... market seems bad, so i dont touch it al all, i work with international clients. But to say the market here is all bad and cheap ass is totally wrong, you just need to see where the money goes. Comics, games pay bad... what about music video and Film? that is a bit better already and what about the advertising tv spots? BAM katching, they pay a lot better than most movie concept art and matte painting jobs. So if you are a local and want cash you go there and do the smaller jobs on the side.
    And you try to get international clients too.

    Make friends in the industry, stay in touch with art directors and other artists in your region and you will be more likely learn where the jobs are that pay best.
    art related markets are huge, there are absurdly many clients and various fields, you need to find the best source for your main income and expand from there even if it means you paint cars instead of monsters but hey $$$

    You always need to see the bigger picture and that very much includes your age and your future, 10 years later you naturally will get better and your living costs will grow too. Seek out other artists who are better than you and longer on the market, look at their ports, see what kind of jobs they do to make their living.

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    Randis my friend, you have spoken like a true master.

    The problem is that for me it's kinda difficult on the basis that the very few artists who are good around here, never show up. I have tried contacting people, I have added a post in the sketchgroup subforum, nothing. Artists around here are mostly hobbyists. I am sure there are some great non-Greek artists here (hey, I'm Greek-American, and more American than Greek most of the times :s) a friend of mine knows one, but he is so busy and snotty that he doesn't care to make connections or even find fellow artists, so it's a lost battle. It's good that I can have international clients and not have to depend on what's going on here, but it's bad that there is a whole market here, in the Balkans, Cyprus and Turkey that is left untapped.

    To the point tho, avoid stuff in the form of contests and small salaries. No excuse the client makes for the small pay is ever up to the pain and practice you put into gaining skill. My favourites are the excuses of this type 'it's an easy job for you, so $X should be enough' it's like telling a brain surgeon that it's easy for him to take out the tumor in your head so he should do it for $10 or like going to the supermarket and paying only what you think things should cost. And what's worse is that we artists aren't the most money hungry group around.

    The true problem surfaces when (and I know I might hit a nerve here) various artists who are in various stages of there development, come around doing manga n stuff and sell a piece for $5. Their excuse is that this makes them money etc and it's an ends ot a mean. It's tragic when these people actually have skill!!! They don't realize that the art market place isn't a place for sensetive cry-baby artists who express themselvs by drawing chibi or whatever you call it. It's my workplace, and when a client comes along and will settle for cheap average art ten times, art that gradually get's better in all respects but pricing, then we have a problem, because said 'artist' has destroyed part of my and other's income.

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