I decided to bring up this topic cause I was talking to a comic and sketch card artists Nar the other day. Nar is actually a pretty big name in the Sketch card business. His personal sketch cards go for upwards of $500 - $1000 per card on eBay. His sketch cards for X men and other companies go for $2000 or more.
He said though that he had to take a break from it cause people started playing the "How much money can we make off of Nar"game and he really didn't like it. The more his cards became valuable, the more people wanted him to draw and slave over his desk to produce cards. This was something he started doing for fun cause he wanted to be in the comic industry. He told me he had to just take a break from it for a while cause it was effecting his relationships with friends and everything.
Here we have a wonderful young man that is a great artist making a name for himself and has changed the face of the sketch card industry, and people are mad at him for just doing his thing.
It made me think back to my work on the X men Archives project, I was tripping out cause I couldn't get the cards done. They wanted 100 and I only finished 36. That is when I decided to talk to my friend John Wilcox and he really shed some light on the situation. He said "Arie, you are not making enough money to be worrying about how many cards you finish". He knows guys that were making 100 dollars per card and I was making less than $10. I could sell my own cards for at least $20 a card and make way more money.
The funny thing is up to that point I was unwilling to sit and draw 100 sketch personal sketch cards but I was willing to do it for this company. It kinda put things in perspective. I could do cards for those guys and get exposure all I wanted but I wasn't going to have a paycheck big enough to pay my rent. On the other hand, I could have charged double and made enough by the end of the week to get my car fixed, and pay my rent. What was I thinking?!
That is when I realized I was putting all these people ahead of my own needs. I know they need to make a profit but so do I.
It comes down to this: We need to stand up and start refusing to put up with the BS. I remember a conversation I had with my friend Dan. He works in the animation industry and we were talking about how in the film industry writers, actors, voice actors, etc. get royalties off of the work they do on a film or a t.v. show every time it airs or every time a DVD gets sold (what do you think the writers strike was all about). This is on top of the payment they receive for being in said movie or t.v. show.
Animators, however, make their weekly paycheck and when the show ends that is it. When an animated film is produced we do way more work than the voice actors but we don't get royalties for our efforts. you don't have a cartoon without the artists but we get the short end of the stick.
When you think about it, when was the last time you heard of a strike in the arts industry? There was one in animation back in the 30's at the Walt Disney company, but no one talks about that.
The problem is most artists, including myself, don't know there true worth. They have the attitude that they just want to draw cause they love it, but we gotta wake up people cause everyone else is looking at this as a business and not as a chance to draw for a living like they always wanted to. We can't take that "I love drawing so much that I would do this for free" attitude now, the economy is just way too bad.
We can't wait until we are on the street begging for food to realize someone else is making money on our creations and we aren't. I never made it to the 3rd year at Joe Kubert's School and I was angry cause of the way things ended but I was listening to a pod cast on success the other day and it made a lot of since. They were interviewing him about his career and he was talking about how back in the day when he started drawing comics the publishers were selling the books for 10 cents and the artists didn't have to have any experience. They just had to be excited about telling a story and they were selling all this art to the companies and all these ideas and creating all these characters but not asking for ownership of what they were creating. It didn't cross there minds that someday Superman and Batman would be household names and very few people stepped up to the plate and said I will do this for you but I want to own the rights to my work. He was saying how they made those choices from the start and many of them have never received anything else and have come to the ends of there lives with nothing. He said that is why he opened a school and started teaching to pass this great legacy on to his kids and students.
The point I am making here is we have to watch our backs and take care of ourselves as artists. it is extremely important cause other people that are benefiting from our work will chew us up and spit us out. There is art every where we go and if it were not for us, most things would not come into existence. We would still be sitting on logs and cooking our food on campfires. Houses, chairs and computers would be jumbled messes of wood, plastic, and wire if an artist didn't design it and put it in a pretty package. Some one out there had the idea to carve some wood and put a thin piece of carbon in the center of it and called it a pencil and I bet whoever the creator was died a very rich man.