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October 24, 2004


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Top Ten Lies told to Naive Artists and Designers

kiriko-moth Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2004
This is directly quoted from an article posted by Mark Lewis at [link] Thank you, Mark, for looking out for all of us.

1. "Do this one cheap (or free) and we'll make it up on the next one."
No reputable business person would first give away their work and time or merchandise on the hope of making it up later. Can you imagine what a plumber would say if you said "come in, provide and install the sink for free and next time we'll make it up when we need a sink." You would be laughed at! Also the likelyhood is that if something important came along, they wouldn't use you.

2. "We never pay a cent until we see the final product."
This is a croc, unless the person is leaving the door open to cheat you out of your pay. Virtually every profession requres a deposit or incremental payment during anything but the smallest project. Once you have a working relationship, you may work out another arrangement with a client. But a new client should not ask you to go beyond an initial meeting and, perhaps some preliminary sketches without pay on the job!

3. "Do this for us and you'll get great exposure! The jobs will just pour in!"
Baloney. Tell a plumber "Install this sink and my friend will see and you'll get lots of business!" Our plumber friend would say "You mean even if I do a good job I have to give my work away to get noticed? Then it isn't worth the notice." Also the guy would likely brag to everyone he knows about how this would normally cost (X) dollars, but brilliant businessman that he is he got if for free! If anyone calls, they'll expect the same or better deal.

4. On looking at sketches or concepts: "Well, we aren't sure if we want to use you yet, but leave your material here so I can talk to my partner/investor/wife/clergy."
You can be sure that 15 minutes after you leave he will be on the phone to other designers, now with concepts in hand, asking for price quotes. When you call back you will be informed that your prices were too high and Joe Blow Design/Illustration will be doing the job. Why shouldn't they be cheaper? You just gave them hours of free consulting work! Until you have a deal, LEAVE NOTHING CREATIVE at the clients office.

5. "Well, the job isn't CANCELLED, just delayed. Keep the account open and we'll continue in a month or two."
Ummm, probably not. If something is hot, then not, it could be dead. It would be a mistake to *not* bill for work performed at this point and then let the chips fall where they may! Call in two months and someone else may be in that job. And guess what? They don't know you at all.....

6. "Contract? We don't need no stinking contact! Aren't we friends?"
Yes, we are, until something goes wrong or is misunderstood, then you are the jerk in the suit and I am that idiot designer, then the contract is essential. That is, unless one doesn't care about being paid. Any reputable business uses paperwork to define relationships and you should too.

7. "Send me a bill after the work goes to press."
Why wait for an irrelevant deadline to send an invoice? You stand behind your work, right? You are honest, right? Why would you feel bound to this deadline? Once you deliver the work and it is accepted, BILL IT. This point may just be a delaying tactic so the job goes through the printer prior to any question of your being paid. If the guy waits for the job to be printed, and you do changes as necessary, then he can stiff you and not take a chance that he'll have to pay someone else for changes.

8. "The last guy did it for XXX dollars."
That is irrelevant. If the last guy was so good they wouldn't be talking to you, now would they? And what that guy charged means nothing to you, really. People who charge too little for their time go out of business (or self-destruct financially, or change occupations) and then someone else has to step in. Set a fair price and stick to it.

9. "Our budget is XXX dollars, firm."
Amazing, isn't it? This guy goes out to buy a car, and what, knows exactly what he is going to spend before even looking or researching? Not likely. A certain amount of work costs a certain amount of money. If they have less money (and you *can*) do less work and still take the job. But make sure they understand that you are doing less work if you take less money that you originally estimated. Give fewer comps, simplify, let them go elsewhere for services (like films) etc.

10. "We are having financial problems. Give us the work, we'll make some money and we'll pay you. Simple."
Yeah, except when the money comes, you can expect that you will be pretty low on the list to be paid. If someone reaches the point where they admit that the company is in trouble, then they are probably much worse off than they are admitting to. Even then, are you a bank? Are you qualified to check out their financials? If the company is strapped to the point where credit is a problem through credit agencies, banks etc. what business would you have extending credit to them. You have exactly ZERO pull once they have the work. Noble intentions or not, this is probably a losing bet. But if you are going to roll the dice, AT LEAST you should be getting additional money for waiting. The bank gets interest and so should you. That is probably why the person is approaching you; to get six months worth of free interest instead of paying bank rates for credit and then paying you with that money. Don't give away money.

Now, this list wasn't meant to make anyone crazy or paranoid, but is designed to inject some reality into the fantasy.

You are GOING to be dealing with people who are unlike yourself. Their motivations are their own and their attitudes are probably different than yours. There are going to be demands, problems, issues and all the hassles that go with practically ANY work/job/money situation. Too many times I see the sad example of someone walking in to a situation with noble intentions and then getting royally screwed, because what they see as an opportunity and a labor of love, the other party sees as something else entirely, not at all romantic or idealized, but raw and simple.

How can you deal with this stuff and still do good creative work? Good question. THIS is why an education is important. You learn, out of the line of fire, how to deal with the art at it's own level and also how to deal with the crap that surrounds it. You may have tough teachers and think that it can't be worse, but wait until a business person has a hundred grand riding on your art! Then you will know what "demanding" means. You will then thank all those tough teachers for building up the calluses that enable you to enjoy the job rather than just feeling like it is all a big waste of time!

In the end, working commercially, being a terrific artist is about 25% of the task. If that is the only part of the task that you are interested in, do yourself a favor. Don't turn "pro."

Devious Comments

Xerces Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Marco-Wehe Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2009
Very Useful Summary!!
Thank you very much for sharing!
Destriarch Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2008
Actually, I'd be willing to bet that the most common lie told to naive artists is "I don't have much money to pay for this..."

Skuldier Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2008
Thanks for taking the time to post this. I know you didn't write it, but I really appreciate you taking the time to look out for other folks out there by posting this. A lot of this stuff I've never heard before (new to the field), so it's a big help.
Teiflin Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Awesome, very helpful info. Thanks for quoting the article, which I probably wouldn't have found by myself.

Hopefully other artists will get the chance to read this too.
Raven-Silver-Dagger Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2008
though this is informative and helpful *TY* thought this was paid jobs forum....
kiriko-moth Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2008
The mods are welcome to lock or delete it, but so far they've allowed it to remain here for nearly four years.
Raven-Silver-Dagger Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2008
four years? thought it was a recent post lol.
CuddlyBattleship Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2008
I wish they'd sticky this.
TommyCharles Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2008
Awesome! Great stuff!! thanks for posting this.
seannachai Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2008  Student General Artist
This is really informative. I'd bank on it that you've defianately helped some people out with this. ^__^
ndikol Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2008  Professional Interface Designer
Please check my gallery [link]
karonafalsegod Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2008
The ironic thing is, you are the exact kind of people these guys take advantage of.

Can you even take the time to read what you are getting into?
ndikol Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2008  Professional Interface Designer
ok i can.. thanks for your information
hiredeviantARTISTS Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
This is fantastic! I think this is something everyone needs to know and look at :nod:
wilsoninc Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008  Professional Interface Designer
sounds familiar some of them! XD thanks for the posting! =)
deviantmanga Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
geez, when i first read this post, back on the original date, things were not as awful as they are now.
nowdays out of 5 gigs only 1 gets payed.
Chance-One Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
Good stuff K. Im saving this one for sure.
sefaguerrero Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
very good advises.thanks
Rubycored Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
it works both ways

as someone who hired numerous artists since the start; I have been hit with a lot of "delays" of getting completed artworks from artists despite paid the artist up front as requested (read: giving sizeable donations to them)

kyle1852 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
Great write-up on tougher aspects of independent/freelance life in the field. Especially in today's economy (and the future, too) we need to do all we to collect what is owed. Sometimes the money collection process aggravates everyone involved in the project, so to have everything run smoothly is a godsend. Cool tips!
angrymikko Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2004  Professional Digital Artist
Well that's so true and I've read that once in "computer arts"-magazine. Some people think that artists make art by just sitting and doing nothing they have no idea that it's actually real work.
crossbow Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2004  Professional Interface Designer
actually most people think that just because it's "art" it should be cheap or just simply free.....bastards :S Half of my clients have heart attacks when I quote a price because they think that I'm only going to cost them a few euros.....
angrymikko Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2004  Professional Digital Artist
those bastards :shakefist:
Xioswar Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2004
Seriously, thanks for the heads up.
so do u know anything about writers, like publishers and so forth?
darkfortears Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2004
Thanks for writing this. :)
I had no idea about some of those things and the rest that I do know is just common sense.
kiriko-moth Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2004
Credit goes to Mark Lewis for writing it - I'm just keeping the word going around. :)
Nrak Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2004
Nice list :). Wish I read this a year ago though, would've helped me with some really bad clients.

Hope things go better this time around.
MDCT Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2004
interesting read,but i really dont do contracts,but i do pay up from what they ask for,or i offer what i can afford at the time,i make no promises or offers i cant pay up,but then again,i let them keep their art and pictures,i just show it on my site,and tell them before submiting to register their work and watermark them ;)

but i appreciate those 10 tips,at least i know i am not in those 10 catagories(i hope so) ;P
acidround Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2004  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Definately a good read.

Just trying to keep the post around a little longer for others to read. ;)
Hidden by Commenter
kiriko-moth Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2004
That's okay ;)

But yes, it's already on a webpage, I'm just trying to help keep it circulating. :)
AmishElite Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2004
On the other side of the commission, we would ask one thing:

If I send you a note proposing a commission, please have the courtesy to reply if you are not interested. I assure you, it will not hurt my feelings. Fully 50% of my 'Here is what I would like... how much $$$ would that be?' notes are not replied to. The sooner you say 'nope', the sooner I will be able to offer the job to one of your peers.

juxtaposefantasy Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2004   Photographer
windfalcon Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2004  Professional Traditional Artist
It's a cold slap to the face, but it's true. People LOVE to take advantage of people in any way they can. Be careful, and don't be afraid to stand up for yourself.
fadedoak Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2004
Good to know. Thanks.
xthetoothpickx Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2004
Wow. Thanks for telling us all this. I knew there was tons of risk, but I never knew exactly what. Thanks!
unit-zero Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2004  Hobbyist Digital Artist
all true and very usfull, ya gotta watch out for those money grabbing business types, they will give you no respect until you take your stand and let em know that it is the designer who is in charge and payment is a must. you just cant let them tell you how its done, it doesnt matter how hard you push them back the bottom line is that as a designer or illustrator ect they need us and they would have picked a specific person or agency for a reason so never back down if someone trys to not pay you or insists you dont have a contract or whatever.
GREENTENERAL Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2004
I really wish people would stop supplying stockpilers with free design work, I know that most of these kids have no idea just how creepy things can get it the commercial art sector. They think they are helping someone out, and so they get into contests and logo this, and t-shirt that. Most of these people needing work are either stockpilers or lazy bastards that are looking for free, or nearly free material for a job that will pay THEM big money. They know that these kids don't copywrite, and they can cover their ass further by by making minor changes to the design. The internet provides a real ripe and furtile valley for pirates. You figure for each little contest they can get a few hundred freebies. I really hate to see talentless bastards making money on the talent and kindness of others.
GREENTENERAL Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2004
Oh yeah, and it's this type of activity that makes it possible for some designers to work their entire life and never come up with a single idea. The real atrosity is that some of these kids may want to get a job in at a design firm someday, but their will be this little toad sitting in their office, recieving their money.
kidrock Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2004  Professional Interface Designer
Cool one by mark, hope all forum for designers carry this.
crossbow Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2004  Professional Interface Designer
I contract can be made even if the client is online. Technology allows for such things and u can even use the old snail mail (post). Once done correctly both of u are leggaly bound and under certain rules and obligations no matter where u are.
plutonium83 Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2004   Digital Artist
How do I use a contract if I'm dealing with my client online?
teriyaki Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2004
I am currently taking a course in business, and it gives an overview of contracts. Note that unless there is a specific legal requirement, contracts can be in any form, and do not even require signing - but it is hard to prove otherwise. Here is the basic process for the US:

Party A and B agree terms. Party A prepares contract and sends it to party B. Party B sends email back to A, agreeing to the contract. The contract becomes binding as soon as the acceptance email arrives in party A's inbox - they don't even need to read the acceptance. As mail delivery failure messages will show that it hasn't arrived, without such a failure message, the law will assume that the email has arrived.
Destriarch Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2004
The problem with a contract is proof of acceptance, and I can understand your concerns with an online client. The best way to arrange something like this is to post the contract in a common form such as PDF, have your prospective artist download and print the contract off, then sign it and snailmail it to you. You could use a fax machine or have a scanned signature attached to an emailed copy, but since both are readily forgable with a handy copy of the artist's signature, they are not ideal solutions. All professional companies that I have ever dealt with have required an original signed contract.

I would also like to note that quite a few professional and quite legitimate companies won't pay until they see a finished article. This isn't necessarily scamming, it's good business practice. Artists are capable of scamming employers as much as vice versa you know, so seeing proof of completion and suitablility to the given brief is necessary to avoid being diddled. On the other hand, there's no reason why an artist shouldn't watermark the proof copy and scan it at a low resolution so that it is utterly unsuitable for print but gives a good general idea of what the finished work would look like.

Hope this helps.

Destriarch Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2004
P.S. I know this is a very useful and informative post and should definately be on the site somewhere, but does it really belong in this forum? It doesn't appear to be a paying job offer of any sort.

crossbow Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2004  Professional Interface Designer
Just a couple more things to have in mind....Protect your copy rights and your moral rights. This information is not the same in every country so some caution and research is needed but the basic idea is the same.

I'll c/p here the relevant information from the association of illustrators in the UK.

Copyright is an area which is governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988. When you create a collage, painting, drawing, diagram, map, chart, plan, engraving, etching, lithograph, woodcut or similar work, you have created an artistic work and that is protected by copyright, provided that your illustrations fall into any one of these categories. You, as creator of that illustration, own the copyright which subsists in it. There is one exception to this general rule. If you are an employee and your job requires you to create illustrations, then usually your employer will own the copyright in these works. There are no registration requirements. There is no requirement to use the sign © but it will help the public to realise that your illustration is protected by copyright.

If you own copyright, you are the only person who has the right to make copies of your illustrations. If someone else makes a copy without your permission, they are infringing your copyright.

You can give permission to individuals or companies to reproduce your illustration which is known commonly in the illustration trade as granting a licence. Your license should be in writing and should set out the use that can be made of your illustration and any restriction you wish to place on the use. You can grant licences for different uses.

You can effectively sell your copyright, which means that you have no further right of reproduction in your work. This is known as an assignment but will only be effective if you put it in writing.

If your illustration is reproduced without your permission, you are entitled to damages; perhaps an injunction to stop the infringement and on occasion the infringing copies delivered to you.

Your copyright in your illustration is an economic right. It is different from ownership of the illustration itself. You may still grant a licence or give an assignment of copyright in your illustration whilst owning the original piece. Likewise, you may sell the original illustration without giving permission for it to be reproduced.

These are rights in addition to your economic right of copyright and your right of owning your illustration.

You have a right to be identified as author of your illustration. This right must be asserted in writing and should be included on any copyright, assignment or licence to reproduce or other written contract.

You have a right to object to derogatory treatment of your illustration. This means you have a right to object if your illustration has been adapted, altered, added to or deleted from. You may be able to rely on this right if you are unhappy about the colour reproduction of your illustration or, if perhaps, it has been cropped in a way which distorts it.

You have a right not to be falsely attributed to another person's art.

It is not possible to pass on your moral rights by way of assignment or licence but they can be waived, ie. given up. Check any written contract carefully to ensure that your client is not asking you to waive your moral rights.

Along with, amongst others, the Association of Photographers, the NUJ, the Musicians Union, and as part of the Creators Rights Alliance, the AOI is campaigning and lobbying parliament on behalf of illustrators to change the attitude of many clients and members of the public towards creator’s rights. In many other EU countries, for example, moral rights cannot be waived. They are considered to be a right, not a commodity, thereby ensuring their protection for the creator.
The issues related to rights grabs by clients and unfair contracts have increasingly become a feature of the ongoing campaigns that the AOI continues to be involved with, on behalf of and thanks to the continued support of the membership.

So basically if someone tells u, that u did this for us so now is our and we can do anything we want with it, is not really the truth....A contract explains what your rights are and what u give away. That's why it's important to have a contract. For more information on the CRA, please visit their website at: [link] Just be carefull! these information is correct about the UK but things might differ from country to country even though the general idea is the same. Don't fall in the trap "u did it, now it's mine". You can also check [link] for more articles concerning your rights in general or in more specific situations (internet for example).
Neurophoria Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2004
:no: so true...
I've been told many of the lines listed...
those people get them off the same book or something... *sigh*
inok Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2004
Damn right. Everything.
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