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Submitted on
January 14
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Here's an average summary of a private message that I receive on a weekly basis:

Hello,
I just came by your profile and saw your art, and was very impressed. I think you have a very nice art style. Now I'm working on this project. It's called <project>. It's an awesome story about <subject>. I'm currently writing the script for it, but I'm planning to make a visual novel. I can't tell too much about the story, since I don't want it to be copied, but it's going to be really cool. The point is; I need illustrators. I'm an excellent writer, but I can't do illustration at all. And therefore, I wanted to ask for your help. I need about 60 pages illustrated and colored. Would you work together with me on this one? I don't have any money to spend, as I'm not an established writer yet. But when the visual novel gets published, you can get a percentage of my profit.
With kind regards,
Person X

Well... let me translate this for you.

This Person X is a writer. An excellent one, if you have to believe his statement. He came to my profile, and was very impressed with my art. But as there are at least 20 other names in the CC, I probably wasn't the only one artist that he was impressed by. And since the message lacks a personal reference, it's highly assumed that he send that same message to about a hundred of other artists... in the hope that somebody --anybody-- picks up his illustration request.

He says he is an excellent writer, yet his gallery doesn't show a single piece of writing. I basically have no idea what this project is about, and he ain't gonna tell me either. He's so damn afraid that someone copies his oh-so-awesome plot line, that he even refused to give a small summary. But seeing a gallery full of below-average-level illustrated fanart, and his age being about 15 years old, I assume this 'excellent writing' is either the next piece of anime fanfic, or just another generic anime-based story with characters whose look is probably the only awesome thing about them. Don't get me wrong. Nothing wrong with anime. I watch it a lot. But good luck if you think you're gonna sell a manga-styled visual novel with a plot that looks like it's ripped from just a generic anime. It's not gonna happen.

He wants 60 pages illustrated and colored. That's quite a lot, if you ask me. And I might be a slow illustrator (really, I am), but drawing and coloring a single page is gonna cost me at least a few hours. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. There's a reason why most Japanese manga's are in black and white. Not only to save on printing costs, but also to increase production speed. Because.... coloring takes time! A whole damn lot of time!

Last but not least. The costs. Of course Person X has no money. No wonder. He's a 15 years old kid that probably never had a job and haven't got anything published either. Yes, this an assumption. But seeing he hasn't taken into account how much money printing and shipping costs (it really is expensive), and the fact that he hasn't listed a single plan how to actually promote and market this thing, makes me think that he gave only little thought to that subject. Hence, I think he's inexperienced.

Well... let's be honest. 
These things can be fun and flattering once in a while. But getting them on a weekly basis is annoying the shit out of me.

Why? Because I think it's damn arrogant to go around artists, beg them if they can do hours of hard work for free, just to see your project illustrated. And then get angry if an artists turns their offer down. I've seen so much of this already, that it makes me sick.

First of all, I'm not a professional illustrator. I might have decent artwork quality, but I'm not a professional in the sense that I illustrate for money. I have health issues. I have a full-time job that is demanding enough already. Luckily I earn good money by doing that job, so I don't need the extra money from art commissions. I have the freedom to spend my free time however I want, by illustrating whatever the heck I want, and I'd like to keep it that way. One look at my profile front page would've learned you so. Reading my FAQ (the link is also posted at my homepage) would learn you the reason why. So why would anyone even bother sending me that kind of message? Are they that arrogant to think that their request could change my mind on the entire subject?

But let's say that I took commissions. That I did do art for money. They send me a request for illustrating and coloring 60 pages. Let's say you work real fast (I don't, but let's say you do) and you finish one page in about 4 hours. That takes 60 x 4 = 240 hours. On a full-time job, I work 40 hours a week. That means 6 weeks I could've been working. I could've earned 1.5 monthly salary at an average job during that time. And this isn't even a realistic expectation. If there is one thing that I learned from freelancing, is that you will never complete a project in the minimum time. Mostly because of the customer. They haven't got their source material together, they want changes, they want meetings... and whatever. In the early years, a freelance colleague once learned me that in order to guess a good time estimate, you need to take the minimum time required to get the job done, and multiply that by 1.5. And from years of experience in the web industry, I can say that way of estimating is quite correct. So yeah... that makes 9 weeks of my life I could've spend earning money on a regular job. 
To do the math; 9 weeks = 360 hours. Apply that to the hourly minimum wage of $10.99 in the Netherlands (where I live) and this whole project would be worth $3956. And that's only minimum wage. Yeah... we're talking about real money here.

And that's exactly the point I want to make. Because Person X has no money. He expects me to do $3956 worth of work to do for free. And maybe, if he's selling enough... I would get some of his money. MAYBE!
Well... let's do some more math here. Let's say the average full color manga is about $10. That means he has to sell 396 of those books to pay my costs. Not his, not the printing costs, not the shipping costs. No, he needs to sell 396 copies alone for me to get even.
Anyone with realistic expectations knows that that is never gonna happen. Not by a 15 year old kid, a book that has a generic anime plot line, and without a decent marketing plan. It's doomed to fail. Even if I illustrate his entire book, he might sell a few copy's to friends and family. But he ain't gonna sell anywhere over 50 copies. And yeah... I've talked to enough artists at anime conventions to know the average selling rate for original art. Unless you already have a massive fanbase and a solid marketing plan, you will be having a hard time to get even with the printing costs alone.

All in all, this is a selfish request from a kid that wants to see his concept illustrated. 
The sad truth is... it's not only kids I get those kind of requests from. I can forgive a kid for not knowing how the world works. But many of those requests where from people that were over 20 years old. People that I suppose have jobs and have an idea of how hard is it to pay their bills. People that willingly send out these requests to lure hard working artists into this kind of traps. They might be delusional about their ideas being a success, but most of them just want to see their concept illustrated, and can't be bothered about other people spending a whole damn lot of time on it.
Even many people from the game industry nowadays go to DeviantArt in order to e-mail artists to work for them on shady contracts. I'm talking about well paid recruiters from game company's that contact art students. Those students work for free, just to hope making something that's good for their portfolio's. In the hope they will ever get a small percentage of money from a game that will never sell, or even never see the light of day. And that's the sad truth.

To be honest; getting this kind of selfish requests on a weekly basis, makes me sick.
I have a project that I work on myself. I am a writer myself. And when I wanted my art illustrated, I learned myself how to draw in order to make illustrations for my concept. Sure. I perfectly understand not everybody is capable of doing that. But if you want people to help you out, then pay them. And if you don't have the money, then set up a solid marketing plan and get your money via crowd funding. Dragging others into your selfish issues, should never be an option!

So from now on, I will send all people that send me those kind of requests, to this article. 
That will perfectly explain them why I refuse this kind of requests, and what kind of selfish leeches they actually are.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconthedarkxelloss:
TheDarkXelloss Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've been making stories in my mind since i was 13, my characters have grown with me, so I doubt anyone else can reflect them the way I can since I'm the one who knows every aspect of them, and it would be incredibly selfish to ask another person to do it in my place, that's why I've been working to improve both my writing and drawing skills.

It's amazing that there's people who think someone can take such a big amount of their time to do something they won't even get paid for! you're right, that's so selfish...
Reply
:iconskargrubdamek:
Skargrubdamek Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
I think it's guud ta deny such requests, since ya probably ain't seeing a penny from all dat work. Only a real sodding Git would ask a ting like dat, trying ta
be all sneaky like. Have myself written a few books, would love ta have nice flashy pictures made fer dem. But me ain't got da cash fer such an endeavor.
As such me feels it's betta ta just let it be, rather than be all sneaky like and bully sum artist ta make dem flashy pics for me.

Hope me typing ain't bothering anyone, me writes dis way when I'm bored (and cause 40k Space Orks speak like that).
Reply
:icondark-momento-mori:
Dark-Momento-Mori Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I have had this problem too though not on the same scale as you. I am a comic artist and writer so I've gotten a bunch of requests to draw pages for other people's series after they see my page art. On a good note, many of the them offer payment besides any profits that come the end product. Only one was in an acceptable price range though.
Reply
:iconsugomon:
sugomon Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
And this is exactly why I'm personally going through all of the hard work to learn how to draw.

"I can't draw," I used to say. "I just can't."

Then I realized that I was the only one who truly knew my characters - truly knew their personality and what they thought and felt. And I know that, when I draw my characters, I can portray a heck of a lot more emotion than anyone else could, because I know them through and through, and because I know exactly what I want. I've been told that one of my strong points (I'm still inexperienced) is emotional portrayal. The more that I drew my characters, the more that I realized that, even if I lacked the technical drawing skills, I could draw them better than anyone. So now I'm illustrating my own stuff, because it makes me feel satisfied. And because I've gotten a little stingy about my characters... I probably will never buy (or heck, even draw) a commission... >_<

But anyway - favorited.
Reply
:iconmad-mutt:
Mad-Mutt Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2014  Student General Artist
This might sound kind of strange, but I'm even kind of envious that people are trying to leech off of you, yeah I know that's messed up. Yes, that kid was a jerk and if I was in your shoes I would have said no also. I can't really say I know how you feel, but I kind of wish I could. Your work being so respected and liked that people want to try and fail at leeching off of you seems like a good problem to have. I'm sure that if I was in your shoes that wouldn't be the case, I'm just in a bit of an envious mood right now, sorry. 
Reply
:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I can imagine the position you're in.
When I was less known (and my art wasn't that good) I used to envy the people that gained commissions... even though they didn't get paid a lot. 
Reply
:iconjunipers-knot:
Junipers-Knot Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014
Favorited.  Clap Jumping High-Five - NaNoEmo Day 11 
Reply
:iconbeth-z:
Beth-Z Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014   General Artist
THANK YOU! I'm late in reading this, but I'm so glad that someone put this out here! Actually... I had an offer like this once, two or three years ago... except, for some reason, the person didn't think I actually kept up with their social sites (i.e., blog), and I found out that this person was going to post all the pages and concept art... and not give me a single ounce of credit. Nope. She posted, clear as day, on her personal blog that everything was done by herself - art, story, and all. She claimed herself to be an extraordinary writer and passing artist. My art obviously isn't as great or wonderful as yours and the other amazing artists on here (and it looked like a crap, when I look back on my old art), but I wasn't going to put up with that - art is heart.

I pulled out right then and there. Thankfully, I hadn't shown her the artwork I completed - so I saved myself some heartache.... Some.
Reply
:iconryotnytefall:
RyotNytefall Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
this in a Nutshell "Hey, I have an idea and I think it's an amazing idea, because it's mine of course! Anyways, it requires lots of work, what if you do all the work and, if it works out, I may even share profits with you?!?"

News flash - Slavery is officially over! So... thanks, but no thanks!

Seriously these people, these lurkers, work vampires or whatever would be comical if they weren't tragical, to bad the world is full of people like that...

Now this is was a penniless 15 year old, but imagine, if you were a teenage artist with lots of talent and no job and he was some company owner and he'd actually offer you some money and you'd accept, you wouldn't be paid as much as you should but that's better than nothing, that's basically why the world economy is so screwed up...
Reply
:iconjunipers-knot:
Junipers-Knot Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014
[Quote]News flash - Slavery is officially over! So... thanks, but no thanks!

Seriously these people, these lurkers, work vampires or whatever would be comical if they weren't tragical, to bad the world is full of people like that...[/Quote}

highfive Ker-Fives :relapsefive: high fivee Jumping High-Five - NaNoEmo Day 11 
Reply
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