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'.