I’m keeping an eye out for work opportunities once again and once again I’m in awe of the lunacy of people out there. Why do people think it’s perfectly acceptable to be ridiculously demanding in their requirements – such as saying the excellence of work they require, what they want submitting artists to do, how they want them to do it etc. Whilst at the same time saying things like “there’s no upfront payment but if this book does well we’ll all make some money”.
Seriously, people, this is your book, not mine. If you want to see your work in print then work for free, it’s your prerogative, but don’t expect talented creatives to bend over backwards creating illustrations for you – for nothing! I mean come on, in this instance particularly, they’re writing a children’s book. D’you know what’s one of the most important parts of a children’s book? The pictures!! Wise up my friends, if you want a fantastic book and you don’t happen to be friends with or related to an illustrator who’s willing to do you a favour then face facts, you’re going to need to put a little of your own money into this venture. Yes, if your book bombs then you’re going to be out of pocket, but that’s the risk everyone takes when they’re trying to start their own business in this world, you can’t just go around with your hand out saying “pweeese can oo do this, and this, and this, and this, and this… for fweeeee!”
Then there’s the people with their projects and worthy causes, the project type of person is the guy (or girl – let’s not be sexist here) who says “Oh I love graphic novels and I’ve got an idea for one so how about someone illustrates it for me…just for fun.” or “I’m running a fund raiser for one legged orphaned chickens and I want some free illustrations.”
First off, illustrate an entire graphic novel…for fun? I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a little bit fun, drawing is fun, I wouldn’t do it otherwise. But to slog away, hour after hour, day after day – because make no mistake, illustrating an ENTIRE graphic novel isn’t going to take a couple of minutes here – to slog away at it in the sure and certain knowledge that you’re just doing it for schitz and giggles is going to impact on your work. Your first panel will be a Leonardo (and by that I mean the artist) but by the time you’re on the fourth or fifth panel it’ll start looking more like a Michaelangelo (and by that I mean the turtle).
Playing devil’s advocate here I can say all right, I s’pose what else are these guys (or girls) going to do? They’ve got a burning desire to see their script all fleshed out and they’re hoping there’s someone out there willing to work for free – and maybe there is, there’s no harm in asking.
Or is there?
Where does one draw the line between it being ok to get work for free if you’re a down on your luck student with a dream but not ok to get work for free if you’re a down on your luck small business with a dream, or a tight fisted corporation with a scheme. Where do you say hold on a minute, I’m working my tuchis off, for you, for free, for what?
THEN of course they sometimes come out with the whole, oh it’s an excellent addition to your portfolio, or, you’ll get your name out there and fame will rain down upon thee, or, there might be more work available in the future and next time we’ll pay you!
Ah yes, the old “jam tomorrow” argument. This isn’t Alice Through The Looking Glass, this is real life. So let’s sit down and work out what your budget is and what kind of art work you can reasonably get for the amount of investment you’re able to provide. I’m not heartless, I understand sometimes people are working on a shoe string budget and I’m always trying to do my best to help out the little guy, but I’m not a total schmuck who’s going to put my heart and soul into doing a ton of free work for someone, no matter how important their mission is to them.
And sod the one legged orphaned chickens!