Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Check It Out—Man vs. Art Podcast

The Man vs. Art website and podcasts are by Raul Aguirre, Jr., cartoonist and animator. I just today started listening to his podcasts and found myself chuckling. Although it's possible that he has a tendency to digress, he still makes valid points.

The podcast I heard today (from 8/21/09) was a hilarious tirade with which I totally agreed. Aguirre had the same complaint that Amid Amidi had at cartoonbrew.com: that the work of artists is NOT VALUED! Cheap asses on Craigslist post jobs that offer ZERO money but instead offer lame crap like "killer portfolio pieces" and "profit-sharing, once the property is sold." Yeah, right, ONCE it's sold! So an artist busts their butt to do several seconds or minutes of animation (people don't realize how long it takes to do one SECOND of good animation!) and gets in return…ZERO! And as Aguirre said, when artists accept these jobs, it devalues the work of all of us. Turning down these insulting offers will not only help the individual in the long-term (the time they spend creating a project for nothing, they could be creating their own project for something!) but will also benefit the industry as a whole, too.

I learned about devaluing of artistic work the hard way. I used to do design favors for colleagues at a company where I once worked. In return I got tickets to their shows and, as a chocolate fan, a Hershey bar. But once I stopped working for that company, I requested that I be paid for my work. The response I got from one individual involved something about how "we'd all like to get paid" and "we sacrifice to be in this profession" (in her case, theater.) I responded, "Yep, I'd like to get paid for all of the work that I do and I, for one, did NOT choose the theater life so, yeah, pay me."

Never heard from her again. Bwahahahahaha! Couldn't. Care. Less.

I no longer do ANY design work for free. The only exception I'll make is for a good friend or family member whose request is QUICK. And when I say quick, I mean 30 MINUTES. Seriously, if I can't do your design in 30 minutes, I don't do it for free. Period. I recently declined doing work for a family reunion because I knew it would take more than 30 minutes. Once we pass that mark, we're into time that I could be putting towards my own projects that could eventually EARN ME SOMETHING!

Just because creating is fun, does NOT mean it's easy and does NOT mean it's worthless. Aguirre said that Hollywood wants creators to think that their work is crap when in fact it's GOLD. They know it's gold and don't want the creator to know it's gold because then they'll have to pay the creator accordingly.  So if you believe you've got gold, go with it!

I believe the devaluing of graphic design began stock photography. Once you could easily pick up an image via the web and not hire a photographer, that was the beginning of the end of valuing photography. Then came stock illustration which decimated the illustration industry. But once I saw stock layouts, I knew I had to get out of this profession. Now companies will give their receptionist a computer, a layout program, a stock photo, illustration and layout and let her "design" a layout. Talk about devaluing!

My goal: to never again talk negatively about my work. I am supremely confident in my storytelling skills. Yes, I'm not the greatest draftsman ever, but neither is the guy who created "Family Guy." And he's doing just fine!


  1. how true how true! I totally agree with you on the "devaluing" of art work, we as artist are up against the computer machine, but one thing we must stick to is OUR worth .I tell my two daughters the same thing our talent & your time is of high value,

    I myself will never talk negatively or thing that what i do is of low value,I think people who arent artist dont really know about all the hard work & time that gose into making something ( even half wa decent) & due to the lovely world of www. its just about instant for anyone to point, click, & print, so people dont really think about the time & talent< please >
    keep you head up

  2. You're absolutely right, Kay. Every thing that's created has value and we all need to behave as though our creations have worth.