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Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!
"Work is more fun than fun."
"Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
Its funny to read all that info. I mean, I understand most of you guys live in US and your standards are very high. I live in Brazil, a very shitty country. Here everything costs 3 times more than there and you make less than a half the salary. Here a basic Ford Mustang costs US$70.000 and a good i7 computer US$2000. But the normal illustrator makes something like US$1000/month. Its is almost impossible for someone here to work by only doing concept art. There is no position like this. If you find a job in the field here it will be "artist of everything". You have to do every fucking thing art related. Illustration, concept, graphic design, sketches, some basic web designing, and every "artistic" thing that is needed. That if you want to make those 12k year. After some 10-20 years you will be able to make something around U$2500/month. Maybe more, maybe less, but definitely not a lot more. Sometimes also teaching and doing some basic 3D modeling as well in order to make some extra $500. It is extremely rare to see someone making more than $4000 dollars/month by being an artist. This person would be probably doing some work for the US/Europe by the internet.
That's why I am quitting work with illustration/art in general. I need to have a life and to be able to support a family. I will surely keep the practice as a hobby, because I love what I do and to me it is something like a legacy I am leaving. But it is impossible to keep up with my goals working in this field.
When people accept jobs that are less than industry standard you insure you will never buy a house, or have money in the bank, or not live with your parents; you've sold out your future and any chance at being an independent adult.
Well, everything I am talking about is local stuff. I am not like a "sold out", innocent or desperate American artist sabotaging market prices, and I am not defending this posture at all! Thirs world countries prices are also very high but our income is incredibly low. Here, in Brazil, only good engineers or physicians can afford to buy a brand new Honda civic for an example. It costs more than US$35.000!!! An excellent salary here for a undergraduate person is like $48k/year.
Your complain is the same as many industries do. When companies start hiring people from poorer countries to do your work you lost some of your benefits. I am not saying you are wrong to complain, but when I see some guy from Brazil, or any other developed country being hired to do some artwork for a price you think its outrageous I am happy for this person because for him is plenty of money! What to you is a path for poverty, for this guy its a way to have a good life. For the same price you work any company would choose to work locally, because its easier and less risky.
I can see the 80s car industry worker from Detroit complaining about the Asian car companies the same things you are saying now. The poor guy don't care about macro economy. He just want to pay his bills and to support his family. Its a completely different universe. He can't afford not to accept a job that pays very good to him because it hurts Europeans or Americans professionals income. The industry standards are way to different.
Anyway, I am not competing with anyone anymore, so I am free from that fight. Also I don't think art industry is going to suffer as others did anytime soon because of international competition. First because this is a very complex field where direct communication with the client is still very important. Foreigner workers can't afford to travel often and English fluency does not come easily. Secondly, specially because proper art education is rare and expensive, when it is available. In poorer countries there is very small demand for "exotic" professions. Most of people choose conservative jobs such as Laws, engineering and medicine.
First they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
~Attributed to Martin Niemöller
Thanks much for the reply Armand. You're the first person to give me even the slightest ballpark figure. And in regards to your comment about negotiating, it makes sense, especially to feel out what the studio says they're willing to pay before you even throw out a quote. That alone gives you someplace to start, but at least now I'll have a more reasonable estimate going into my next gig.
@ Elwel - Yep.
@ Hellfire - It's a shame you had to drop the professional field and stick to the hobby side of things. You have some really nice work. You'd think even with internet access someone could build a career as long as they have the quality and professionalism to back it up. All the best to and your family sir.