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  1. #1
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    Overseas Illustration Outsourcing

    I have a general state of the industry question. I've been wondering about the role of art house service providers lately, Concept Art House being a good example, and how they may effect the creative services field in the future. Do you think that overseas competition will play a significant role in the illustration market going forward? The work that Zhang's Shanghai studio is producing is quality and I'm just wondering if they are operating with a significant edge considering the value of the Dollar verses the Yuan. I'm not even sure that pricing is a factor with Concept Art House but it seems like a reasonable assumption. Is this something that is having an effect in your opinion or will U.S. illustrators continue to compete effectively without being priced out of the market? Chinese artists can produce fantastic visual imagery for art directors the world over while operating at dramatically lower costs with the only difficulty being the translation of directions between manager and artist. With a middle-man like Concept Art House managing the pipeline though, that's no longer a problem. This issue has already arisen with American companies that create products for overseas markets like Japan. There the rates are higher than in the U.S. and it's absolutely true that some companies are contractually obligated to only hire Japanese illustrators for their projects. It seems that protectionism has been the way some have reacted to the situation. Just thought I'd see what you guys' feelings on the subject were. I know it may be a sensitive topic, but as small business owners we need to be aware of what the future holds and what the competition is up to.


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  3. #2
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    This has been going on in the games industry for at least 15 years now and the language barrier and accessability is a problem for most companies, especially with the change their mind fifty times type of clients today. I think it will have an impact, but as the world economies level, people in countries like china will demand more and prices will go up for them as ours drop. To compete as a small business you have to be more efficient and flexible than a large one, do most of the work yourself and you can beat the bureaucracies with all their departments and pipeline problems which all get tacked onto the bottom line. Big companies usually pay crap because they have so many employees, the pie gets sliced pretty thin. Small companies can exploit this to their advantage.
    Sun Tzu covered this in 'The Art of War'

  4. #3
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    ok, Here's what I know about what foreign companies (art related or otherwise) must do according to Chinese law to be able to be a legally registered company doing business in china:
    1. Must have a considerable financial investment in china
    2. Must have a local business partner
    3. Needs to hire a majority of local staff/employees. If you do hire a foreigner, you have to explain why you couldn't hire a local to do the same job.
    4. Needs to train/teach the local employees everything that they can about their business, and that means EVERYTHING. ( writing codes for a program? then you have to teach your local staff even the top secret code that you have).

    Many foreign companies here have brought up their concern about this particular rule..since this leaves them open to a very possible scenario a few years down the line where their local staff, whom they have trained will suddenly leave and start a rival company of their own, or jump to local rivals who are eager to learn what the foreign companies have taught them.
    ( and let me tell you from experience..in china..everyone dreams of becoming a big boss someday..not just dreaming of getting a good job, but dreaming of becoming the guy offering the jobs)

    Now..relating to art....at present I do see the mainland chinese having an advantage in terms of pricing..they can charge way less and still be able to pay the bills. Of course big name artists don't have to charge less. And I know some local guys who charge even more than their western counterparts. But in general, mainland artists charge less..if you don't believe me google Dafen Oil Painting village..where oil paintings are churned out factory style.
    They also have an advantage, at this time in education..art schools in china ( the good ones) have tough curriculums...competition to get in and be accepted is fierce.
    They have tons of cheap art books ( hogarth, Bridgman, loomis..all have been translated into chinese and available for less than 10 dollars), pirated video tutorials abound on the web..etc...
    What I am trying to say is that yes, there are some damn good and talented mainland Chinese artists at present. Whether or not they choose to charge at a fair rate is up to them. We really can't do anything about that.
    The danger comes when businessmen who are always looking for ways to cut costs, suddenly think..ok, this chinese guy charges way lower..and he's chinese..so he must be good at art.
    It happens.
    4 years ago, every school in china was advertising for " Native english teacher wanted, must be american, canadian or british. No english speaking chinese please"....basically, they wanted white people to teach in their schools..doesn't matter if you were a teacher or not, being white was enough. ( they could charge higher tuition fees if they had a white teacher working in their school)..now, 4 years after..the ads are different " English teacher wanted, must be fluent in chinese and english, local chinese preffered, foreign applicants need to provide their own working visa"...providing your own working visa is laughable. You need documents from your employer to apply for a visa...no employer, no legally acquired working visa.
    There are agencies offering work visa assistance ( which involves buying documents from other companies)..they charge foreigners 5,000 RMB to 13,000 RMB for these doctored work visas..a legally acquired work Visa costs 400 RMB.


    Ok, I have strayed from the topic. Art and illustration is still a business, it has always been and it will always be. Artists need to eat and support their families. Like it or not, there will always be some other artist whose rates will be lower then your rates. The other artist may or may not have a higher skill level...for some businessmen specially those who have no idea how much work goes into a piece ..all they look at is the price.
    The only way we as artists can compete with this is to keep on improving at our craft, to be as professional as possible when dealing with our clients, and sometimes..we may need to adjust our rates a bit to compete..
    Don't lose too much sleep over it...the moment you decided to make art your livelihood, you also accepted the business side of it. And any business will always have competition, fair or unfair, but its there.
    Last edited by the ANGRY filipino; May 20th, 2010 at 03:09 PM.
    I SWEAR ON THE GRAVES OF ALL THE TALENTED FILIPINO ARTISTS WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE ME, THE FILIPINO ART LEGACY WILL CONTINUE!



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