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  • Listening to: my adorable wife complain about me
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** EDIT While writing this I forgot to mention. Not all publishers are like the ones I describe here. For instance, the people at magic Pixel/ Namco Bandai. When I low balled myself, they actually offered me more money per card simply because they didn't want someome cranking out crap. Those dudes are great and I had a blast working for them. I'm not trying to paint a picture like all publishers or clients are the devil or anything, I just want us all to be mindful of when a situation is not working in our interest.  EDIT**


Ok so by now most people have read Alex St. John's . . . interesting take on the mindset of those who work in game development.  I'm not here to dog pile on an easy target. Mostly because there's a ton of people who can do it way better than I ever could
What I did want to bring up is the part of his argument that I somewhat agree with and actually feel very strongly about.  Basically,

"I tell these people; quit, go make great games on your own, pursue your passion, you’re better equipped to succeed than any of the dozens and dozens of amateur kids I’ve seen retire early while you were still “trapped” in a job you hated and trying to rationalize mailing in a 40-hour work week making video games."

Ok hold on, hear me out before you sharpen those pitchforks! 

For those of you who don't know alot about my work, I have had experience SOME working with larger developers. Some good, some bad. But one thing I have had TONS of experience with are low-end, "grab someone off deviant art" jobs. They are friggin out there, and people work them. I'm not gonna name names, but I had one developer offer me $150 for 2 images fully rendered. Assuming I spend 10 hours on each card ( anyone who knows me knows this is a conservative estimate to say the least lol) I would take home around $7.50 an hour. Less than minimum wage. The argument there would inevitably go " yeah but you get to DRAW for those 20 hours!! Isn't that better than clocking in those hours at Taco Bell?! "   In all honesty.  .  . yes and no. 

Ok, from here I assume you can imagine my point. We're all artists, we're all in the same boat. Needless to say, I didn't take the job, but I know for a fact someone else did and IMHO that is the problem.


A while later friend of mine emailed me and I came to find out he'd actually " pulled some strings" to get me this "wonder job" and was wondering why I'd passed on it. I calmly explained my position, but the dude was totally baffled.  

Me, " So you do work for these guys?"
Him, " Yeah, of course."  
"I dunno, I'd make more money doing personal commissions, why do this stuff?"
"Sorry but some of us have to work for a living. I don't have the luxury of picking and choosing what I work on."

The conversation devolved from there with it ending in him basically insinuating that I'm just this spoiled brat that should shut up and just do the work. I think I'll remember this conversation until the day I die because it perfectly reflects a lot of artists attitudes out there. Like I say, I haven't had as much experience as some people in commercial art, but over the years I've talked to numerous artists out there and they all agree, some of the worst working experiences you'll ever have in commercial art will be the ones you get paid the least for. This is not to say money is the only thing that matters when it comes to commercial art- far from it. However the point I'm trying to make is: most clients will not value your work unless you make them.

As much as I think the lawsuits against developers that don't pay overtime are great ways of shedding light on this situation, there's a lot of people I feel that just take it and let them get away with it. Also, this these types of problems are not exclusive to game developers, I see this stuff happening to just about all forms of commercial art. Anyone who knows me knows my stance on this subject, namely: if you aren't being properly compensated for your time you are not only hurting yourself, you are hurting other artists who are trying to make a living. If you swoop in, crank out some sub-par piece of work out on a crappy job, you are reinforcing the clients ideas of what they can get away with and how they can treat you.

Just to be clear, I didn't write this to bash anyone that is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Jobs are scarce out there and I understand some people are not in position to say " EFF YOU!" and drop the mic.  Instead, would like to encourage those you who can, please, don't play their game. Work in your own behalf and don't let yourself be taken in by something that only really wants to exploit you. In my experience, if a client doesn't respect you from the outset, time will not make the situation any better. I knew a guy working for a major comic publisher who'd, on more than one occasion, colored an entire comic in one day to meet a deadline. Despite him pulling their ass out of the fire, he was not offered better work, but instead only offered more crunch work until he eventually had to turn it down. After that they pretty much stopped offering him work altogether.  

Honestly I feel like with AAA game development costing millions and millions of dollars and with the staff it takes to produce them numbering in the hundreds we are looking at a time when the need for artists have never been higher and yet the respect for an artists personal skill is going down the drain. The allure of "doing what you love" is something that I feel can give people tunnel vision to the point of forgetting why we wanted to do this in the first place. Please remember to respect yourselves out there because I guarantee, if you can't do it, no one else will do it for you.  


Well, thanks for reading my little rant, as always if your interested in my work you can support it on Patreon  and access to swag like:

            Tinyicon by chuck-piresARTExclusive Patreon Only Work including finished work and colored sketches

            Tinyicon by chuck-piresARTNSFW Art trust me, this stuff isn't coming to deviant art 

            Tinyicon by chuck-piresARTProcess Shots which show the piece being developed

            Tinyicon by chuck-piresARTPhotoshop Files to help give a little insight into my work

            Tinyicon by chuck-piresARTBrush Sets why use yours when you can use mine?? ;D
 
            Tinyicon by chuck-piresARTVideos from sketching to finished piece!

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:iconmechangel2002:
mechangel2002 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist
I would much rather prefer to be able to produce and sell my own work, but I find it hard to get people to value me. Its been easier financially to do work for hire... I do turn down the gigs that don't pay a reasonable rate (even when I can't afford to) but still... I duno. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.
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:iconsaint-i:
SAINT-I Featured By Owner May 9, 2016
actually im the worst saint
Reply
:iconandronicusvii:
AndronicusVII Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2016
I am not an artist myself but I do commission quite a few myself, albeit in a private not professional matter.

What I have learned is "you get what you pay for" and that it's a good thing.  You want great art?  Pay for it.
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:iconddd09ish1:
ddd09ish1 Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
ddd09ish1.deviantart.com/journ…

Same problem, different source. This time its a deviantart group but the same principle: people selling shit short and not doing and godamn math.
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:iconchuck-piresart:
chuck-piresART Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2016   Digital Artist
Holy crap!! I honestly don't think a homeless person would draw you a picture for $3.75! Respect your time, people -______- 

Or like you pointed out, just do it for free! lol Doing it for points just enforces the ideas that person you mentioned that wanted to pay the 15 points has about art. Namely, that it's worth jack squat! Guess i can't judge too hard, I did a piece for World of Warcraft gold waaaaaaay back in the day, lol. Not my finest hour. 
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:iconddd09ish1:
ddd09ish1 Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
heheh i think my low point was passing out commisions to my college buddies for food. which i guess isnt that bad but it felt shitty saying "art! art for food!" lol

But yea, it baffled me. i still frequent the group as a commision source but there are several insane people that have no idea what their stuff is worth. 

Like one guy who was WAAAY better then i am, was selling his art for about half of what i do. Better lineart, better colors, better composition, and he was willing to take a full color commission for 5 bucks! and it wasnt some deal to please his fans or any special event is was just his normal set of prices. i had a big wtf moment. I asked him about it and he challenged me to find work for the prices i was asking....which i did lol. i still havent heard back from him since then......
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:iconkingnot:
KingNot Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016
I'm for a move to 'indie' markets since it is easier to make and publish stuff these days.

Still, that a-hole deserves a Boycott of his next few projects. Make him toxic, he won't manage anything unless it's McManagement and he bought the franchise. Not to kick his a-- but rather kick him so hard the rest of the 'industry' feels it. Wealth and power should be despised if not earned or abused.
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
I too, feel that the indie market is the way to go. It really cuts out the middle men, and allows the creators a direct link to the fans. There's still ways to exploit it(especially in early access models), but so far it seems to be regulating itself well enough. Look at Stardew Valley, for example. Fairly new game, and made entirely by one dude. And from what I've heard, he's been really listening to customer feedback and just maintaining a very positive connection with his fans. He's doing a better job of customer service than most AAA companies ever will. Sure, he is definitely working like mad, but it's his choice, his project, and he's no doubt profited from it quite well. It may or may not be atypical, but if nothing else, it gives me great hope for what the indie market can do for creatives.
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:iconchuck-piresart:
chuck-piresART Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016   Digital Artist
Wow I've heard of the game and it seems to be getting great feedback but I had no idea the game was made by just one person! On a similar note Salt and Sanctuay is made by a husband and wife team and I can honestly attest that I've enjoyed the game more than the last 3 assassins creed games combined lol.
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah dude! He made all the art, coding, story, music, and everything else! And he didn't even offer it as early access! He wanted to have a finished product before he took a penny for it, and even after he released it, he's been updating it by fixing bugs and adding content that people suggest. I love the game, and my wife is obsessed with it. I can't think of another company doing as well as he is, and he's just one dude. 

I haven't heard of Salt and Sanctuary, I'll have to check it out!
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:iconchuck-piresart:
chuck-piresART Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016   Digital Artist
I very much agree, although seeing people's reaction to his piece has given me some hope. I think right now is simultaneously a scary and interesting time for commercial artists. On one hand you've got these insane stories of people breaking their backs, on the other hand you've got people like sakimi chan (sp?) who left the AAA industry and have literally taken the world by storm.

Obviously not everyone can be her, and so many peoples solutions to this will have to come from themselves, but imo, the one thing they shouldn't do is settle.
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:icondevduck01:
devduck01 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Interesting and thoughtful topic, and a great discussion below...just imho this kind of thinking on behalf of the Client/Employer is a bleed from the area I work in Supply Chain/Industry where often the attitude is well if you wont do 60 hour weeks for crap money, plenty of ppl that will.
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:iconchuck-piresart:
chuck-piresART Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016   Digital Artist
Absolutely. You can see this mentality in so many industries right now, which is why I want artists to be aware of it. Imo commercial art is fast becoming one of those exploitive, convayer-belt jobs, and in a lot of ways the only leverage we have sometimes is just to say " no I won't ".
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:icondevduck01:
devduck01 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
I agree, especially when the task is high skill, like art rather than just say a repetitive task on a production line etc
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Edited Apr 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Haha, as a side note, I just read that article you linked... Dude sounds like me! I lived in a cabin without power or plumbing for quite a few years. I've hunted for food, not sport, raised animals, grown food, and worked very hard for survival. I still smile when I think about how cool it is that you can pull a lever and watch the stinky stuff swirl away to oblivion via a magic porcelain portal. And showers, dude! Don't get me started...

However, I don't know how I feel about telling people to either suck it up or move on (which is basically what he is saying)... The infamous crunch is a thing that needs to go away, and it's strange to think anyone could think that it's acceptable. 

*Edited my comment to be a bit more on topic*
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:iconchuck-piresart:
chuck-piresART Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016   Digital Artist
I agree it does need to go away, but IMO the plain fact is it probably wont until people finally stand up to them and either, don't buy their crap, or refuse to work for them.  To me, it's the same argument for strong female characters in games. There's TONS of people that will post on facebook about it or complain on any social media, but when it comes to supporting a game like Beyond Good and Evil or Mirrors Edge, where are they?

Or micro-transactions for that matter. Companies only put that crap in games because A, it doesn't hurt them to do so, and B because it makes money. However I see people bitching about it, and then turning around and supporting it. As the saying goes, " Money talks, bullshit walks. "
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Oh man, that's so true. The studios that profit from forcing crunches have no incentive to change their ways. Why should they? It's really up to us to make it change. 
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
I agree with absolutely all of that.

Furthermore, I have lived this! I started out 3 years ago with no name, and barely any skill. I took any job I could get, and often spent most of my time wandering the internet, begging for work. I was living the classic "DA Commission" rates. $40 full illustrations that would take me nearly a week, and having to haggle to get even that. Such pay made me desperate, and so it was, for a while, a vicious circle of hunger and setting my rates low out of desperation. Eventually, I got better at my craft. As I got better, I attracted more people. I started to notice that the higher paying clients treated me better. The more I charged the more people took me seriously, but that wasn't until I had some serious skills to bring to the table. Once I noticed that my work was drawing some attention, I raised my prices, and raised them again and again. each time I raised my prices, I saw my sales grow, as well as the quality of clients. We are talking about people who love art and are willing to pay well for it. Not only that, but the higher paying clients are happy to give me the creative freedom to make art in the best way I see to do it. In the end, I am paid well to create better art that attracts even more fans and potential clients. 

I say we live in a great time to be an artist. There are multitudes of opportunities out there to find success, both discovered and undiscovered. The only thing we have to do is NOT SETTLE. Keep evolving and learning and adapting to the changing environment, and take control of our own destinies. Right now, I make more than my living expenses through Patreon, and my Gumroad account brings in nearly the same each month. And this doesn't even account for commissions, which brings in more than either Gumroad or Patreon combined. I set my prices, I choose the jobs I want, and I created my own schedule, and I didn't wait for anyone to give me permission. Do I sound cocky? You bet I do! And other artists can do this to, if they would just stop settling for the archaic system that puts middle men in charge of their professional journey. Why wait for someone to hire you to work on their projects at rates that you can't live on, when you could create your own projects? Take a second job if you have to, and use your extra time to work on your own projects. With things like Kickstarter and Patreon, the only people we have to convince is our fans. So instead of playing by the rules of an antiquated system, learn how to make your own. Learn marketing, learn social media, learn to be innovative! Put enough energy into it, and you might do more than just find your own success. You very well could pave the way for countless others who follow in your footsteps. 

Phew, what a rant! If I wanted anyone to get anything out of this, it would be that you don't have to just accept life as it is. The power to change your life is simply a matter of perspective. Don't settle. 
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:iconchuck-piresart:
chuck-piresART Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016   Digital Artist
Yeah, it's cool to see because  it for sure seems like you've put in the hard work and in a lot of ways built a model out of Patreon and Gumroad that works for you. 

It honestly scares me because there's so many hungry talented dudes out there, and I remember being like that. " put me in coach I can do it!!" I mean, it's a great attitude to have but I see it getting exploited as much as rewarded. And, as much as I hate to admit it, St. John is right there is a faction of talent out there that are miserable but don't seem to want to do anything about it. The cool thing is, with the advent of kickstarter, Patreon, and sites like that, there are so many ways to fund what you want to accomplish if your willing to work for it. 
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Hell, I'd go as far as to say that a good work attitude is exploited MORE than it is rewarded. We've all been subject to our employers raising the bar when we prove ourselves, without raising the rewards. Like your friend that crunched to color a comic in one day, saved the company's ass and suddenly that became what was expected of him. That's just crap. Sure, expect the best from your employees, but treat them well, or they could leave. At least that's the ideal situation... These days, with all the potential ways for artists to make money as individuals, companies SHOULD be afraid to lose them, but they aren't, because it's just a sad fact that most artists would rather complain than stand up for themselves. 

Honestly, when I read St. John's article, that's all I got out of it. That people are complaining and not doing anything about it. There's only one way to change a system, and it isn't by complaining. If your choices are to work hard for a company that enforces a crunch, or work hard to change the system that promotes such activity, you might as well work hard in the direction that brings you progress. 

However, when I listened to the video against the article, I could also see how people got inflamed by it. Still, I kind of felt that they stopped listening as soon as he put responsibility on the individual artists, and just tuned out the overall message, which is that the world isn't going to change just because you complain. You can be mad as you like about the fact that lions see you as food, but that won't stop them from eating you if you are around when their stomach is growling. Just as the early humans used innovation to protect themselves, building walls and spears and such, so too must we innovate to change a system that is against us. The tools are out there, the motivation, however, seems harder for most people to find. 

But that's just what I got out of it. I couldn't really listen to the whole video, because even though it made some good points, it felt more like an emotional rant than a contribution to a debate on the topic. 
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:iconlefthandthreads:
LeftHandThreads Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thats what I took from the St. John article as well.  I totally agree what companies get away with is deplorable, but again, no one is forcing them to do it.  At this point, you know how it works, the system currently sucks, and you either continue doing it because you love it, deal with the crap side of it, or get out of that terrible situation.  
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Yes, exactly. Especially since there are so many opportunities to make money as an independent artist, these days!
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:iconchuck-piresart:
chuck-piresART Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016   Digital Artist
It's really true there are opportunities out there. I mean I was talking to another comic artist years ago about making it and it was one of those moments like " wow this dude effing wanted this" he was coming up and getting work around the early 90's Before the Internet really took hold. He basically said " getting work back then was a gradual learning process. The first con I ever went to, I had my portfolio filled with pin ups and and ego the size of Texas. There were some polite people ( and a few less than ) that basically told me, these are good but no one wants to see this. You need comic pages. it went on and on like that for almost a couple years before I could even get a shot "

Just the fact that people have access to our work on sites like this is an already amazing advantage. Ultimately glory favors the bold and like a lot of people said the indie scene is more and more becoming a viable answer, and middle men are going the way of travel agents.
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah man, we live in a crazy time. I feel like we are on the verge of things getting really good for artists... But maybe I am just being optimistic haha!
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:iconchuck-piresart:
chuck-piresART Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016   Digital Artist
lol yeah Jim can get a bit heated, But a lot of the time unless someone spices it up and makes people pay attention, this kind of stuff just gets ignored. Imo Jim is as zealously for artists and people trying to make a living as some companies are for themselves, so it balances out. Lol
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:iconronindude:
RoninDude Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, that makes sense, and if that's the case, then bravo to him, truly. There does need to be big reform in the industry... My answer for the problem was to go it alone, and directly sell to my audience. Cut out the middle men. But I also know that not everyone want's to do that. Either way, just as you said, nothing is going to change unless we as artists demand more, as a community, and force the companies to listen. I have hopes that the indy scene will eventually lead to more power in the artist's hands. But we will have to wait and see. 
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