Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Art goal for 2016?

I've been trying to figure out a simple goal every year, a project that I would like to do - in 2014 it was doing a children's book, which I managed to wrangle up pretty quickly. Not long after I expressed wanting to do it, a friend of mine got me in contact with an author he had worked with before who needed an illustrator for her new book. It was more a gift for her daughter rather than something that would be pushed hard at retail. The basic premise was it would depict her daughter, the preschool she attended, and most importantly Speedy, the class turtle. It would also educate the reader about box turtles including how to take care of them and some of their physical aspects. All in all it took about three months start to finish and along the way I learned a lot about publishing and how to prepare files for printing. Over the years I've had a few ideas knocking around in my head for some children's books of my own, so it also helped alleviate any intimidation I had about working on a children's book and getting it printed. I think the only major hiccup was when it got time to print hardcover versions. It was through a different printer (Lightning Source) and even though the paperbacks came out perfectly, the hardcovers were a disaster. Despite using the exact same file for the interior as the paperback, the printing was horrible - terribly washed out and despite me sending a copy of the paperback to show an example of how they should look, they seemed uninterested in resolving the situation. Basically they just kept sending out worse and worse copies which I eventually had to send back. I just finally gave up on hardcovers. But the paperbacks were great and I'm a real stickler on how my stuff is printed so that's saying something. Colors were rich and contrast and everything looked exactly how it was on my computer screen....Here's a link to purchase a copy on Amazon
In 2015, my goal was to do label art for a beer company. After contacting multiple companies and e-mailing portfolio examples I received responses from a few companies throughout the year. I'm not going to name names, because it's not like they really did anything wrong, but I did start to notice a trend. The second you talk about any money they run off. The first company I received a response from was excited about my work from the get go and said it was great timing because they were beginning to work on beers for the summer (this was in January). I was asked my rate so I consulted my Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook for Ethical Pricing Guidelines to see what they suggested. According to it, in regards to packaging design for beverages, they suggested between $5,200 and $30,000 per label. Of course the high end is ridiculous and honestly some of the companies I was talking with I would expect the low end to be considered high as well. So the first figure I threw out to someone was $2500 per label. Radio silence. And this wasn't a poor company...while looking up info on the owner there was all kinds of articles talking about how he had become a multi-millionaire through ownership of strip joints. I followed up, but still didn't receive a response. I was contacted by another company, actually in this case it was someone who found their way to me. Same thing though. Once money was discussed they vamooshed although in that case it was a start-up that to my knowledge never went anywhere. This was still early on in the year so I didn't give up and continued to contact different companies where I felt my style would fit in. One thing that was kind of frustrating was there was rarely an e-mail address to contact a lot of these places, but instead a generic website form. Frustrating because I couldn't attach examples of my work and also because instead of knowing where it was going, picture that scene in season two of Lost where they find out the pneumatic tube where daily logs were placed in led to some remote part of the island and dumped in a huge pile. Oh man, I miss Lost. Eventually another company contacted me and in this case I had a couple things working for me - they were friends of a regular client and also my style and sensibilities would have fit in perfectly. In fact when it seemed like that one was going to work out, I really thought that was the reason it didn't work out with the other companies. But again, once money was brought up, VAMOOSH. In this case I wanted it so bad if anything just to accomplish my goal for the year, I made sure I priced the label at below $1000, but no dice. I had started to give up on my goal for the year around November and really started to get rattled myself when trying to price label art. What was considered too high? Is there even a phenomenon where if I price it TOO low, that scares people off as well? It just became really frustrating. A couple weeks ago I responded to a thread on Gigposters.com looking for an artist to work on label art. I received an e-mail from them about a week later saying they really liked my work and wanted me to work on concepts. Being this close to the end of the year, I almost felt like Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when he rolled under that door and reached back for his hat. Right down to the wire. But, honestly, I had a bad feeling while reading the e-mail because it felt like they were more interested in just getting sketches than saying they definitely wanted to work with me on the final label. Gave me a real cattle call vibe. I was asked how much it would cost to get me started on concepts, I gave them a deposit amount and an illustration price (in this case, they already had a label designed and just needed art to plug into a rectangular space). And as expected nothing. So it looks like my art goal for 2015 was a bust but not for a lack of trying. Not sure if I should roll it over to 2016 or just move on.....

No comments: