Why pay more?

Here is a glimpse into the heart of an unscrupulous art buyer.

I don’t use the word ‘unscrupulous’ lightly.  He may defend himself by saying he merely pays what these artists ask, and in a free market parties may enter into contractual agreements and it’s no one else’s business—but a buyer who treats his suppliers with such disrespect is in the market for the short-term while leaving behind long-term damage for the rest of us.  It’s difficult for a working illustrator to demand reality-based prices when there’s always someone who’ll do the same job for next-to-nothing.  And it’s difficult for ethical art buyers not to be tarred by this guy’s brush.

Artists! please, please join the Graphic Artists Guild or at least get a copy of their Pricing & Ethical Guidelines handbook.  If you don’t know how to calculate how much your time is worth, or how to estimate a project, you’ll inevitably fall prey to people like this guy.

Parents: the main linked article can be read by kids, but there may be language issues in the comments section.

0 replies
  1. animalartist
    animalartist says:

    Whoa, I can’t believe someone actually wrote this article. Does he understand that professional artists are paid more because they are experienced, reliable and know what they are doing? And that some artists walk out in the middle of a job because completing it is actually costing them money? Is this capitalism, or what capitalism has become?

  2. Charles Bergeman
    Charles Bergeman says:

    This is happening in all professional fields.

    Degrades the Artist, as well as the products that are produced incorporating Art created by anyone willing to subject themselves to this kind of treatment.

    Meanwhile, those with real talent are benched in favor of cheaper or more naive resources.

    Greed manifests itself in many ways. And to make it worse, it appears to be institutionalized to the point where it is considered good business practice.

  3. Ilene Winn-Lederer
    Ilene Winn-Lederer says:

    Tsk. Thanks for sharing this, John. I apologize in advance, but this is an invitation to a rant.

    The public perception of stupid, starving artists just rambles on and on.

    With regards to pricing, the term ‘cutthroat’ has a long and bloody history, driven by desperation and secrecy. We blindly sign contracts stuffed with scary legalese and/or accept substandard payments for our work and then whine how we were screwed. What’s up with that?

    As creatives, we must open up and share our experiences and knowledge (names, numbers and details!) so that others may learn and empirically strengthen our industry.

    Art buyers can be sharks; when they scent a naive sucker, they’ll love you to death and know you are too frightened of never attracting more work to share word of their ethical misdeeds.

    The only person(s) embarrassed or shamed by your exposure most likely deserve to be. You may survive the experience with them, but you’ve just given away a chunk of your soul.

    And what are we not doing to change this? Not sticking together as an endangered species.

    Those of us who practice illustration and design professionally try to set examples of positive and profitable behavior in our industry among our colleagues and students who come to us for guidance. Much of this information is detailed in the P&EG manual and in presentations by professional illustration societies. BTW, these books can be ordered online, some copies may even be found in libraries.

    If you can’t or won’t become affiliated with such a group in your city or nationally, at least get a clue and have the smarts to give a listen. Do what’s right not just for you, but for all of us.


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