Saturday, January 28, 2012
I can't pay you now, BUT...
About once a month I get the exact same message from a different naive creative type. Each and every one of them has this AMAZING story idea. It's going to be better than Lord of the Rings and Star Wars combined and change the way society thinks about storytelling. They're thinking graphic novel. A logical place to start. They just need an artist. They saw your work and you're exactly what they're looking for. And then the inevitable:
I can't afford to pay you now, BUT! You'll get 50% of the profits!
Wow! All they need is for you to draw the entire thing, spend months of your life working tirelessly to create a massive body of work for zero pay with the empty promise that the project will be profitable enough for you to recoup the money lost drawing the damn thing?! Where can I sign!?
I have a large enough collection of these emails that I figured it was time for me to put my foot down.
First, to the artists:
You wouldn't ask a mechanic to build you a truck for free with the promise that he'll get a percentage of all the money you make on deliveries.
You wouldn't ask a janitor to clean your office building for free with the promise that he'll get a percentage of all the business done in the building.
Artists, you are professionals and deserve to be paid. If you're going to work on something for free, it will be your OWN passion project (hell, I'm working on mine). Promises of future profits are not going to feed you, clothe you, or fund your own project. If you get a request like this simply thank them for their interest, and decline.
Second, to the people who send these requests:
If you are truly passionate about this project, and believe in your heart of hearts that it will be as big as you say it will, GO FIND INVESTORS. Find people with money who believe in your project too. Take their money and give it to the artist of your dreams and watch the beautiful artwork pour in. Are investors not interested in your project? Maybe it's not as good as you thought it was. OR, maybe it's time to get a second job and start saving up enough money to keep an artist on commission?
In the end, there are thousands of creative people out there with incredible ideas. We all just need to respect each other enough to value hard work.