The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – How Not To Hire An Illustrator

Rants

 Continuing with the old hunter gatherer analogy, I have been out harvesting the fruits of the interwebs searching for succulent morsels. Whilst in this occupation, I have found a few really dodgy looking vegetables…

 Exhibit A – The Good Grief


“I have a model diagram and I need someone to design a diagram which looks like the model which Ill give to you.”

          So…are we all clear on that then?

Exhibit B – The Bad Grammar

 

“A illustrator and drawist needed”


This person apparently wants a ‘drawist’ to bring to life the ideas that are in his head. Apparently it “shouldn’t take long.” I suspect otherwise.

Exhibit C – The Ugly Job Offer

“I have twenty illustrations that I need done for a fantas adventure novel.

There will also be a small amount of involved, as the final output will be for an iPad e-book.

Full color.

8.5″ x 11″.

Thank you kindly.”

Ok, definitely a weird grasp of the English language which implies possible communication difficulties ahead so that’s ringing a few alarm bells. There’s going to be “a small amount of involved” which really, could be anything. Assuming the poor verbal skills doesn’t have you running for the hills, you may ask what’s your budget for these twenty full colour 8 by 11 fantasy illustrations?

“Budget: $30-$250”

Say what?! That’s a maximum of about £158 for the whole thing, less the percentage fee for using this website, that’ll leave about £140-ish which works out as £7 per illustration. SEVEN POUNDS for a whole illustration, assuming each fantasy illustration takes, what, five hours to do (sketching, inking and colouring…plus redrafts because you just know this guy is going to want redrafts)? That means he wants someone to work for £1.40 an hour, and that’s ONLY if they pay the maximum budgeted amount. And they say slavery has been abolished!

But you know what’s really, really bloody awful. Worse than the fact this guy is asking people to work for an abysmally small amount. The worst thing is, not only have 26 people actually applied for this god-awful job and agreed to work for this pittance but one of them has bid $30 and said they can complete it in 3 days. THIRTY dollars, that’s how much they’ve valued their time at.

Maybe they’re really fast, maybe they can do all twenty illustrations in, I dunno, less than 3 and a half hours per image (because that’s what it’s going to take to do 20 in 3 days). So say if it takes them 2 hours per image, that’s 40 hours of their life they’re spending on this project in total. $30, minus website fee, leaves about $27 which translates to around £15, which works out as 75p an image or if it takes them 40 hours, about 37p an hour.THIRTY SEVEN pence an hour!! Now THAT is just plain wrong. What in the heck can you buy these days for 37p? What are they trying to do to illustrators everywhere by offering to work for 37p an hour?!


*rage choke*



Union!! UNION!!

The Goldilocks Zone – Is it out there?

Rants

Trawling from freelance site to freelance site looking for illustration commissions puts me in mind of the film “Tootsie” oddly enough, Dustin Hoffman’s character, Michael Dorsey, is schlepping from audition to audition trying to find work as an actor in New York. Every time they tell him he’s too old, he’s too young, too tall, too short…or just not right in some way. He quite rightly points out that he’s an actor, he can change himself to suit their needs but, they don’t care.

It’s a lot like that as an illustrator, but I guess it’s a creative industry standard. You’re doing way more legwork than you ever get back in terms of actual work, you’re swimming upstream with thousands of other equally talented artistic salmon and there’s a tiny handful of jobs out there. This of course leads to one of my personal bug bears, the dutch auction website.

For those of you who perhaps have been blissfully unaware of a dutch auction, or websites containing them, I shall briefly explain. Imagine if you will, an auction, although instead of the price rising in increments with the highest bidder succeeding, in a dutch auction, the price goes down and it’s usually the lowest bidder who wins. This is unbelievable douche baggery of the worst kind, instead of buying something, as you would do in a regular auction, all the creatives bidding on these sites are selling something – namely, themselves. And ridiculously cheaply. I have seen shocking bids, absolutely shocking. Say for example a client has gone on to one of these websites and posted up a job looking for an illustrator, say he wants 100 images and he says his budget maximum is going to be fifty bucks or pounds. Yeah, that’d be 0.50 cents or pence per image, doesn’t that just make you want to vomit? That’s how it makes me feel, and then to basically see the squiggling mass of desperate, desperate illustrators clawing over each other to debase themselves for this tight fisted nobodies amusement. I’ll do it for 25p, I’ll do it for nothing, I’ll pay you to let me do it!! Alright, the last two never happen, but that’s probably only because the websites don’t have that function.

It’s just not fair and it’s not right, and whilst I’m not guilty of ever doing it to that extent, I do more often than not, grossly undersell myself, and it kills me. I can’t stand seeing a piece of art with a mind bogglingly over blown price tag, particularly if it’s rubbish – (everyone’s a critic right?) But still, there’s got to be a line somewhere between underselling yourself, overselling yourself and just right. I need to find the Goldilocks band somewhere in all this madness. That sweet spot where dignity and self worth can sit in harmony with customer satisfaction and value for money.

I doubt I’m the only artist out there who’s plagued with feelings of angst over how much one should charge or accept in payment for your work. It’s art after all, it may have taken you hours or days, you may have put your heart and soul into it, how can you accurately put a price on that?

It’s tricky, very, very tricky. Client’s ought to know this, they ought to know that whilst they’re well within their rights to turn down massively over priced art where the artist has clearly priced it with their heart rather than their head, but at the same time, surely they’ve got to think “Here I am, offering someone ten dollars for a couple of days work, that seems fair…wait, maybe…just maybe it’s not fair…maybe it’s actually tantamount to slavery? Who can tell?!”

Meh, that’s just something that bugs me is all. There it is.