The Respectable Work of Artists


So as some or most of you know, I am an artist. I might not be the best artist in the world but I sure as hell know that i’m fairly skilled when compared to most of the average people I meet out here in Canada. To summarize, I am the best among the worst and the worst among the best.  I am passionate about my work and I love what I do, others don’t give a shit about what it is that I do and I understand that.  However, that does not give you the right to disrespect me or the industry I work in. 

To begin, this post was inspired by a recent social media event happening within the artistic community. BEFORE YOU COMMENT AND SAY I MISSED SOME POINTS PLEASE LOOK AT THIS LINK FOR CREDIBLE INFORMATION! What has happened recently is not just another Oscar awards protest, at least not to me.  You see, during the Oscars award show the film ‘Life of Pi’ won in the category for ‘best visual effects’. This is a wonderful thing for us in the arts because to those of us, like myself, looking to make our way into these high profile industries it’s good to hear that studios are getting the recognition they deserve…Or are they!?

Nope, such is not the case. One would think that a studio that produces an amazing movie like ‘Life of Pi’ would be able to take home a fat chunk of the pay when THE FILM MADE HALF A BILLION DOLLARS WORLDWIDE. If you have seen the movie and know something about VFX then you know that  most of that film was made in a VFX studio. If you dont believe me then look at the trailer for the movie and tell me that all of those animals dont look real! I dare you! I double dog dare you say it!

Anyways, the reason why such a fuss has been raised in the VFX industry is that the studio that did the VFX for this film actually may go under or is filing for bankruptcy. Yeah, they’re pretty broke. Isn’t that something?! A studio that works on a movie that makes enough money to nearly feed a small country manages to go under. The best part is that they did most of the damn movie and yet they might go broke. I heard that it took 10 animators to make that Tiger look so gorgeous! And those people may be without jobs now!? Does this make sense to you!? Is this reasonable?! Not to me, no it does not seem reasonable to me. Apparently, this may have been happening for a long time now and I didn’t know it. Forgive my ignorance 😦

Now the issue has become a social media phenomenon and I see many of my artist colleagues changing their profile pictures to a green screen background to show solidarity and support for the VFX industry. I have done the same on my own Facebook profile as well as actually summoning the willpower to come here at 4 in the morning to write this post. Alas, the other reason why im motivated to write this post is because I personally feel that artists are being disrespected for their work all over the place. Not just in VFX but in other places.

Recently, a colleague of mine recently posted a link to a site that promotes the undermining of many talented artists in order to cut corners and make a quick dollar. Let me explain the premise of the site to you all so you understand whats going on-

First, the client describes the logo they want and artists design a version of the logo to submit to the client.

Next, IF and only IF the client likes your design, they will pay you a meager amount of money.

Now here’s the catch…The client, they choose one out of all the designs that they get submitted. Wonderful isn’t it?!

No, it’s not. You see, it takes time to do a good design. Like any other work it takes time. What these people are doing is forcing talented people to work their asses off for free on the promise that they ‘might’ make some money. You see, usually most professionals I know of working in the independent art trade will negotiate with a client about doing the work AFTER the client has seen their portfolio. You dont do a piece and then hope that they like it and will pay you. That’s not how professionals work! In a properly written contract the artist usually agrees that they will be paid for any and all work that they have done towards the commission regardless of if the client likes it or not. Personally, my contract has a lovely set of specific conditions for if you wish to back out of work with me for whatever reason. For some of you this does not seem to be fair. Well TIME IS MONEY! That means that the time I spend working on a piece for you is what you’re actually paying for and not the actual work. The work itself may only take me 10 minutes but you can trust that it took me 10 years to get to a level where I can pull off something sale worthy in that short a time.

Some of you may have taken the time to look at the site and think that it looks quite fair. Trust me fellow artists dont fall into the trap. First, take note of the fact that there is very little information given when it comes to the rights of the designers in these contracts. It’s all about the clients and them getting a quick and easy design out of this. Second, in my searching of the site I found nothing indicating how much of a percentage they take off the artists fee if they happen to be the winner of a ‘design contest’. That said, the entire operation reeks of shady and bogus for respectable artists to me.

Overall, it’s saddening to think that we artists and designers are so undervalued. We work hard to get to a level where we can do the things that we are asked to do and to some it may look simple but it’s not. It’s sad that people can look at a physicist doing equations that look like ancient hieroglyphs but making it look easy and say ‘that must be hard’. We know that it takes years of study and hard work and we respect that thus we pay them fairly. Not to say that artists on the same level of importance but we artists possess skills, not ‘talent’ like people love to believe. We can all do it if we put our minds to it but for some it comes quicker than others. For those who happen to understand the concept of ‘art’ fairly quickly we call them ‘talented’ but the truth is that it was and still is the result of years of repetition and study combined with determination and focus. All we ask is to be treated fairly and be given our just reward for the efforts we put in to make so many of the small things around you happen. The car you drive? It started out as a concept drawing or render first and they needed a concept artist to make that happen. The clothes you wear? Fashion Designer. The box you get your cereal in? Logo designer. That show you like to watch? VFX artist somewhere on there making  special effects happen. Just know that artists are important and your lives would be alot more dull and dead without artists to make even the little unnoticed everyday things you live with happen. Just remember that the next time you want to ask ‘what do we need artists for?’ or ‘why do they deserve to get more money?’

Keep us entertained people!

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