Aspiring & New Artists: Just Say No.

12 06 2016
Author & artist w/ an MFA in comics, small herd of cats, strong geek tendencies & a love of ska-core.

Author & artist w/ an MFA in comics, small herd of cats, strong geek tendencies & a love of ska-core.

A guest post from Angi Shearstone

In over 25 years of professional art, as an award winning artist, not one single “for exposure” gig I accepted resulted in any more than a wet noodle and more people expecting my art for free. Not one single bonus sausage, and these were some pretty awesome projects, let me tell you.

These “work for free” attitiudes aren’t ever going to change unless we change them.

If these new publishers can’t raise money for art, do they have money for editing, publishing, printing, marketing? Conventions? Does your percentage come before or after they’ve earned back their printing expenses, and will they be open and transparent with all these numbers so you know they’re playing fair?

Do they have experience with ANY of that? Do they have any reputation or contacts in the business? Do they even have a business plan? Because far more often than not, folks like this have the same business model as the underpants gnomes.

Why should an artist be as enthusiastic about these projects as these brand-spanking-new full-of-dreams publishers are? Why should an artist move aside their own projects, use their own SUPPLIES and SOFTWARE and SKILLS they spent a lot of time and money developing to accommodate something that will mean less to them than their own projects?

I do not know one single illustrator or creative person who doesn’t already have a slate of projects of THEIR OWN conception that they can work on… on spec & for free for themselves until the end of time. They squeeze all that in between their Actual Paying Gigs, and all the extra things they have to do to run their business.

You want your comics illustrated? Hire an artist. You don’t have the money? Kickstarter it. Or IndieGogo, or Gofundme, or whatever. Even a pittance is less of an insult than this.

Stop pretending art isn’t worth your money.

I don’t pretend, say, editing isn’t worth my money.

I don’t pretend bookkeeping, or filing my taxes, or changing the oil on my car isn’t worth my money.

You want your car to work, you pay a mechanic. You want your taxes done, you hire H&R Block or something.

You want art, pay an artist.

You want my art, you pay me.

Until then, I’ll be over here, working on spec for MY really amazing projects that I have come up with myself, and figuring out how to pay for the extra help I need in bringing them to fruition.

You want exposure? I want to pay the bills, and I assume all of you do, too.

People die from exposure, by the way.

Find out more about Angi’s artwork. Art is priceless – but that doesn’t mean it is free.

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