Photography Art / Freelance pay and work

Discussion in 'Artists' started by doobiedoobiedum, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member

    Messages:
    546
    Likes Received:
    157
    Trophy Points:
    56
    Didn't want to derail the Wacom thread any further. I know this isn't hardware related at the moment but many freelance illustrators / designers have to provide their own equipment so in a way, it is.

    Anyhow - an ex student posted on a photography thread I hosted with this comment. She works for a magazine, commissioning work as part of her job.

    I know the comment relates to photography but it also relates to freelance art / illustration too. The British National Union of Journalists actually has a campaign to support freelance photographers called #useitpayforit

    Haven't heard anything similar for illustration (yet!) work.
     
  2. dumbo

    dumbo Pen Pal - Newbie

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    16
    It is race to the bottom!
     
  3. YVerloc

    YVerloc Scribbler - Standard Member

    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    152
    Trophy Points:
    56
    The price pressure on photography and art are from different sources. Photography is ubiquitous now, so of course the value is gone. In a few years, we won't even have to carry cameras at all - any photo you will want to take you'll just look up from the archived data from the cameras that are everywhere, and use some handy dandy AI stuff to regenerate the image from any POV and lens and exposure setting you want. And you won't store your photos, you grab them out of the photosphere as needed when you want to show or use the picture.

    The same will eventually become true of illustration, of course. We'll just think the picture and a helmet will capture it and we'll use AI to modify it and merge it with existing imagery. But in the meantime, the price pressure is driven by market forces. Lots of young folks are entering the illustration game. There was a price drop with the advent of digital illustration, but the efficiency gains supplied by photoshop have long since been corrected for in the prices. The new price pressure is just from digital illustration's surge in popularity. That /could/ reverse in time. People could get bored of it and move on. But by then we'll have the mind reading helmets.
     
  4. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member

    Messages:
    546
    Likes Received:
    157
    Trophy Points:
    56
    There are plenty of really good illustration degrees where students are banned from using computers for the first 2 years. Obviously this will put off the digital fanatics but "handmade graphics" and "multi-media illustration" is still very popular. I think some clients value it more because they feel there is more of a craft skill and craft effort in making a 3D scene for a photograph or animation.

    Personally, I think the future allows a combination of skills, christmas 2013 we had an advert here which showcased both traditional and digital skills, this kind of thing I believe is one future I'd like to see more of.



    I think news and journalistic photography has suffered because people living in war zones taking photographs are usually the closest to live events but you often see when someone posts an image to twitter that a news agency asks permission to reuse the image (and no payment) - people just upload images for free as it is.
     
    YVerloc and thatcomicsguy like this.
  5. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,756
    Likes Received:
    1,797
    Trophy Points:
    181
    Typically, when a client comes to me, (I do some client work now and again), it is usually for a specific image or project. Each and every illustrator is going to come back with something unique when given a set of instructions and parameters, so cultivating a unique style is sometimes a benefit. -If you're not drawing fantasy art or cute manga faces, (where there's a catastrophically huge glut of high-quality stuff already floating freely around the web), then the price tags can start to quickly rise. -Sure, anybody can draw a glam shot of Harley Quinn, but what happens when a client wants a flattering water color rendering of the front room of their resturaunte? Or their shop front emblazoned with an appealing logo featuring a caricature of the owner? Or a map of a parking garage.

    That stuff takes work, it is recognized as work, and the number of willing and capable illustrators available for such jobs is rather limited. -Especially if the client wants to sit down with a real, live person.

    Making a living off that kind of work, however, is a pain in the neck. There's too much leg work required. Now and again excellent projects have come along right when I really needed to make a lot of money fast, but I suspect there is a higher power involved, (the collective unconscious taking pity on me), and I wouldn't want to run my life on illustration contracts of that sort. It's too, "feast or famine" and leaves little energy for my own projects -which are my main reason for living.

    There's always, always going to be a demand for competent illustrators, but the days of the lucrative illustration houses are, I suspect, fading fast, if not already long gone. (I actually don't know. What's it like out there, Doobie? Can you still knock on a door and get a position in an honest to god illustration house doing client renderings?)
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  6. Azzart

    Azzart Late night illustrator Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,774
    Likes Received:
    1,179
    Trophy Points:
    181


    I strongly disagree: in my experience those local clients are the least willing to pay clients of all. And the ones who are a nightmare to handle with their continuous requests. :D

    For me no, thanks. Let me work all day with real professionals (art directors, editors, creative directors...) who knows exactly what my job is and what's theirs.
     
    thatcomicsguy and YVerloc like this.
  7. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,756
    Likes Received:
    1,797
    Trophy Points:
    181
    It's probably a sample size thing. I've done very well with local contracts. I state my terms up front, ("First round of changes are *Free*. -Everything after that costs by the hour." -Interestingly, clients firm up and decide exactly what it is they want very quickly.)

    I've never found myself in this situation:

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

    It's not my ideal job description by any means. It's still cool to have done a few rounds of it, though. I've learned a lot by taking my kit on the road, so to speak.
     
  8. YVerloc

    YVerloc Scribbler - Standard Member

    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    152
    Trophy Points:
    56
    Re: feast or famine
    There are two principles I’ve used when pricing my work during my freelance stints, and they seem to help level out the flow and increase the total yield:

    1) charge ~80% of the maximum day rate you /could/ charge. Three reasons: firstly, it will get you a longer contract and thus more income overall. Clients that would hire you for a couple of pieces at your maximum rate might hire you for several weeks or months at a more modest rate. Secondly, a longer contract opens up more opportunities to learn additional skills related to your client’s industries, and to get to know more of your client’s staff personally. This leads to more work. And thirdly, you’ll get to your 100% rate anyhow; as your skills broaden and deepen and your list of contacts grows, your demand will rise and so will your day rate. But not if you’re impatient. I got a gig to carry on with some concept work Craig Mullins started. I undercharged a little bit, and he overcharged a lot. The net result: they hired him for five pics, then me for six months. Then I got /ten more years/ of work from the art directors I met there.

    2) don’t charge speculatively. If you get a big client and a high profile project, don’t think “oh boy! I can charge these guys a lot!”. Charge them your current day rate. They’re taking a risk on you. Their reward is that you’ll pull through for them at a reasonable cost. Your reward (if you pull off the big contract) is new skills and a raised profile. You charge your /next client/ for that. Don’t charge for skills and a reputation you don’t yet have. Earn it, /then/ charge for it.

    If you do these things (and good work), then you’ll find that you’ll get hired for the contribution you can make to a project. That’s a /much/ bigger price than the price they’re willing to pay for mere pictures.
     
  9. Azzart

    Azzart Late night illustrator Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,774
    Likes Received:
    1,179
    Trophy Points:
    181
    @YVerloc good points. :)
    In publishing though I find only a very few asks you rates for a job: the majority have a budget and you can try to negotiate a bit but aside from that it is just take it or leave it to someone else.
     
    YVerloc likes this.
  10. YVerloc

    YVerloc Scribbler - Standard Member

    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    152
    Trophy Points:
    56
    Yeah, don’t flex on your day rate. The ‘don’t price speculatively’ principle cuts both ways. If they give you a dollar figure then translate that into time and act accordingly. If they’re offering 1/2 day’s worth of moolah, then show them some half day pieces and say “here’s what I can deliver for you at that price, deal?”. And definitely /do/ take no for an answer if it’s even remotely possible for you to afford to bail.

    Publishing is a weird animal though. It’s driven by writers. They have to fight so hard to get paid themselves that they never want to share the glory. It’ll never occur to them that you’ve made a substantial contribution to the ‘project’ as a whole. Get treated like a cake decorator, get paid like a cake decorator.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018

Share This Page