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 Artist Trouble

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JamesCarter

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PostSubject: Artist Trouble   Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:55 pm

I'll try and keep this brief so as not to bore everyone with (literally) years worth of woeful tales. In fact, let's just say I've been let down by artists multiple times over the years -people I have paid real money to. With that in mind, here's my *current* problem:

When I moved to Vancouver (from New Zealand) I decided to start anew. I drew up a contract, put up an ad for "artist wanted" and found a fellow who was keen. We met several times and I relayed to him that I'd been let down before and I was basically looking for someone who was keen to make a name for themselves in the comic industry. Get their name out there, that sort of thing. I explained my game plan (webcomic, then TPB, etc) and ultimately I signed him on. The contract covered everything to protect both myself and the artist from screwing each other, had a deadline (that we both agreed upon), a definitive amount of revisions allowed per page, etc.

That was early last year. At this stage the deadline for the entire thing to be finished is long since gone, I have all the pages but a lot of them still require revision and he has yet to provide me with the painted cover (which I paid in advance for). I sent him an e-mail sometime ago asking about revisions and he replied with something about needing to focus on currently paying work. That was quite something, because these days he doesn't seem to reply much to my e-mails very often, if at all.

A few days ago I sent him yet another e-mail which basically said that I appreciate he's busy, and I have had a heck of year (moving between countries, losing my dad, etc) so the project has taken a back seat, but now can we get on with it? Naturally, he hasn't replied. I feel like the next step is to mention the contract and his obligation to it, along with the fact he lead me to believe he was passionate about seeing this project be a success. I don't want to start throwing threats around, but it looks like it might come to that. Of course, I can't afford a lawyer right now for anything too fancy.

At this point I'd accept getting a good chunk of my money back and forgetting the entire deal, but that seems pretty unlikely. Even if the artist did suddenly get a fire under him and finish it, I'm not sure I really want to work with him anymore as it is. He mentioned a while ago about doing volume 2, but there's no chance of that now. I'll find someone else.

I tell you gents, if I wasn't such a believer in this project I'd give up on doing comics entirely. The 4-5 artists who have let me down over the years are more than enough to seriously sour the practice. Is it really that hard to find a professional? A friend of mine, the lucky bastard, found a very talented artist who is willing to work for free on his project. What's the trick here, what am I missing?

All I want to do is make comics. It shouldn't be this hard.



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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Artist Trouble   Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:46 pm

Damn, that's the kind of horror story I usually hear from writers who worked out some sort of "free" arrangement with the artist who now is regretting the deal.

But if you paid the guy already he has no reason to put you off. Thats just wrong.

You did make one mistake. Never pay in advance, maybe a deposit. Usually 20-50% depending on the level of trust, or other things. No freelancer i know myself included, expects to be paid in advance. But my experience isn't in comics, but I assume freelance artists are pretty much the same when it vomes to billing. But by paying in advance you've left yourself no recourse other than court. You can keep after the guy and ask for a refund for the work he didn't do, but you are at the mercy of his or her conscience at this point.


Last edited by Joe Lee on Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:29 pm; edited 2 times in total
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edquinby001

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PostSubject: Re: Artist Trouble   Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:55 pm

Artists are a cowardly and superstitious lot! uh, maybe that's criminals. But, seriously you seem to be having more than your share of problems with them, Jimbo. A fair percentage of comic artists flake out on a regular basis for one reason or another, usually because they're not making any money and they want to try something else that might. However, you mention that this latest project was paid work for the artist. That's the kind most artists try to keep!

Do you mind me asking asking for some details? like:
Was this a straight work-for-hire arrangement where you paid the artist a page rate and that was the end of his involvement?
If page rate, was it under $50 per page, under $100? Did it include pencils, inks, letters, colors or gray-toning?

Regardless of the answers, anyone signing a contract needs to complete their end of the deal. If you have a current residential address for the guy, you might want to try Small Claims Court instead of a lawyer. It's definitely cheaper and quicker, although collection afterward could be more problematic. Although if it involves less than a few hundred bucks, it's probably not worth your while unless you can sue for triple damages. Good Luck!

PS Just read Joe's response and as usual he makes important points. Yeah, advances are not the norm for comics. Usually pay is for 'work delivered' or sometimes 50% for completed work, the rest within a certain time period. Artists have their problems too though, anything with 'back-end payments' will probably never happen.
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JamesCarter

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PostSubject: Re: Artist Trouble   Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:04 pm

Dang, I wasn't aware of the norm. You're right Joe, I definitely should have refused any payment until getting completed pages. That would have made things a lot easier. I seem to learn all these things the hard way, somehow I hold out hope.

For the pages he only wanted $40 so I gave him $45 because I'm a nice fellow. That was for both pencils and inks, so a pretty good deal. That coupled with his eagerness gave me a lot of hope. Prior to that I had an artist who was so slow I just ended up firing him, and another who actually did complete the work but changed so much stuff from the script it barely made sense. I do know another fellow who I've known for years, he's very talented and I trust him a lot, he even likes the sound of my plans, but his rate is $100 a page and while it's worth it, I certainly can't afford it right now.

Perhaps the small claims court is a good idea, but even that will have to wait until I'm more financially comfortable. In the meantime I guess I'll continue to e-mail him with increasing negativity.

The really sad part is, and I even told this current artist this during out early talks, is that I really want whoever I work with to have a lot of success. I want to share any success we have and if they get an opportunity and have to leave me in the dust, more power to them. Heck, if I ever managed to turn a profit I'd be more than happy to spread the love around. And yet these assholes keep screwing me -which means I'm just going to be stricter and stricter with each new artist. I swear, the next person I work with is going to be signing such an iron clad contract they'll probably end up in the poor house should they pull any shit...and that's really sad. My 'career' in comics hasn't even started and I'll already be a miserable jaded bastard by the time I get off the ground.
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J.M. Hunter

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PostSubject: Re: Artist Trouble   Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:32 pm

Jim,

45 a page for pencils/inks is on the low end. 60 and up is more talking points and demands. Esp. 100 for both pencils/inks. So keep in mind that when you do draft up an ironclad contract, you might have to pony up 100 or at least 80 and a percentage on the back end or royalty for an artist. Esp. if their work is worth it!

The guy should keep his end of the deal though, but I'm one to talk. Everytime I think I have it figured out life reminds me I don't know shit.
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Artist Trouble   Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:17 pm

Jim have you tried sites like linked in?

That place is loaded with artists, but on most of the groups discussion boards for comic books, you have mostly writers looking for artists to work for free, you'd have your pick of the best as a paying client, you could look over all thier resumes and portfolios to get to the more professional, and more experienced artists, and there is even one group called "writers seeking illustrators/illustrators seeking writers"
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JamesCarter

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PostSubject: Re: Artist Trouble   Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:10 pm

Damn, that sounds like my kind of place! I'll have to check it out next year sometime.

In the meantime, fortunately, I have heard back from my current guy and he's willing to dedicate a week during December to do the necessary revisions. Not ideal, but at this point I'll take it and hope it works out. I had planned on launching it early this year, but if things go well I now hope to make it public sometime early next year. I should have about a years worth of material, by then I should be ready to hire a new artist to work on chapter two.

Fingers crossed!
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