I received an email soliciting artwork for the second volume of"The Fantasy Illustration Library: Gods and Goddesses”.
The jist of it was: Pick your god or goddess! Make art for us! After we get all the art, we’ll try to do a Kickstarter to produce the book and if we make enough money, we might pay the artists! Don’t pay attention to the un-affordable nature of the book’s price point ($100) because we’ll totally pay you royalties!!
This brand of “proposal” is predatory, dishonest, and frankly incompetent. (And art budget for an art book?? Who’d ever even think of that!) People who organize business models like this are assholes, no words minced. Do not take the bait. Do not get involved. Do not lessen yourself, your work, your skill and time, by participating in this kind of pig swill.
No amount of experience or exposure is worth it. You know what else gets you experience and exposure? Paying jobs. Sample pieces targeted at future clients. Use the internet to build a fan and client base, not these insidious wide-net cashgrabs that give you and your craft zero respect.
There is this prevailing idea among budding illustrators and artists that you need to do work for “experience” and “exposure” in order to make it. These “opportunities” usually come in the form of the above project–maybe not a book, maybe it’s a card game or an RPG or one of those “contests” where companies trick people into submitting hundreds of free options for them and only pay for the one they like best–but the method is always the same… make work for us, for free or for a dismally low amount of money. We’ll pay you royalties though, if the project makes money! Of course that is after we, the company, pay all of our expenses and ourselves.
I’m here to tell you: FUCK THAT SHIT.
Stuff like this might seem like a cool opportunity, but it isn’t.
Real opportunities give something back more than an ego stroke–which isn’t much of an ego stroke in this case, since the bar is literally set at “people foolish enough to work for free” instead of being published on the merit of your work.
You do not need this kind of crap to get “exposure”. You get exposure by promoting online, by networking with fellow artists and clients in your industry’s branch. You get exposure by consistently releasing new work that keeps getting better. That is how you get noticed. Trust me, I hang out with a lot of art directors. And if you want advice on how to get an art director’s attention, they have a tumblr now where you can anonymously ask them anything about the industry: dearartdirector.tumblr.com/
Honest companies pay upfront, upon completion of your artwork, or within a reasonable period of time after that (30-45 days typically). They do not withhold money until the project is released, and they certainly do not withhold money under the promise you might get paid an unspecified amount later.
Honest companies understand that they need to have a budget for artwork and plan accordingly. “We’re just getting started” or “We’re very small” is not an excuse. It’s their problem, not yours.
Honest companies and clients respect your time, your skill, your craft, and the fact that creating art is a job.
Because when nobody talks about them, inexperienced or young artists get roped into this crap:
You can see a list of industry rates according to project type here at Art PACT:
Next time you get a commission offer, before you settle for peanuts, please check out that list and notice what rates are normal and acceptable. If you feel you’re not “good enough” to be working for “real clients”, doing free work for projects very few people will see (or doing those notorious $5 commissions I see all the time here on dA--what are you DOING to yourself?) is not going to make it better. Practicing and networking will.
Value yourself. Value your craft. Value your time. Value your work. And don’t tangle with anyone who doesn’t.