23 May 2012

Legal Protections for Contract workers

Creative fields, like mine, are particularly susceptible to unscrupulous clients due to the nebulous nature of the jobs we do. With notable exceptions, practically everyone hiring out there severely undervalues the effort, training and business costs it takes to create stuff. This has been the case long since before computers came on the scene. Artists worked in sweatshops for dollars a day in greeting card companies while the images they made sold like hot cakes. These days we are often asked/forced to work for a set price on projects with poorly defined or ever changing parameters. This is not just poor planning but a way to milk dry the person hired to the point they will receive far below the minimum wage, if in fact, they get paid at all.

Large companies are no better than two bit operations in this sense. Marketing People are the worst of the lot in my experience. I can't tell you how annoying it is to be constantly flattered on how wonderful and innovative my work is knowing it is a sure sign they are about to screw me over. Often, I am asked to work for or close to free for a chance to bid on non existent "future projects".

It's easy to say "don't take the work" when you are receiving a regular check every week. Independent workers are, in a sense, always unemployed and are not eligible for government assistance, even though they pay into it. It can be months between projects and many times workers are quite literally starving from either lack of work or from being ripped off by clients. When possible, I don't send the finished files until the check is on the way and watermark or make otherwise in usable files until you are paid. Deadlines almost always make these tactics unworkable, but I try them with every job. Sometimes I have to stop working until at least partial payment arrives. This forces the client to at least give me at least something. I can demand a deposit, but it's rare to receive one.

The real problem is there are no rules or regulations that protect the contractor. None. Any job that ultimately pays less than minimum wage should be illegal and no one should wait more than a couple weeks for a check to be sent out after the work is completed. Long projects should require partial payments throughout. Some basic price structures should be set as well. There is no free market here, just a free ride for dishonest employers. Setting some basic guidelines for fairness would go a long way to ending the abuse presently considered acceptable business (but immoral) practice.

17 May 2012

New portrait

Once again digging into reference images I never got around to using. This time I've decided to try portraiture in pen and ink for the first time in a very long while. I've long been a fan of the stippling technique for skin tones in ink drawings... despite the fact it takes forever to accomplish. Thanks to Mike Luce for his feedback and critiques.

02 May 2012

The value of Digital VS Traditional Art

I won't presume to define what's art and what isn't but I think I can explain some important differences between paper and screen and how that effects how we all view the final product and particularly its value as art.

There is not much difference on how art is conceived, wether it's analog or digital. It takes ideas, planning, skill and practice to do both. Most renderings will require research and reference images as well as testing of techniques and styles. Tracing and blocking out reference images save time and insure proportions and perspective are correct. So in many ways, the final product is produced using the same skills and procedures. So then, what is the difference?

While the quality and concepts of the final image may be the same, the thing that makes something "art" may boil down to uniqueness and permanence. A digital piece, though beautiful, can be reproduced at will but does not have the advantage of being truly tactile. It can also be modified and changed at any time. A huge plus. Art on paper etc is given value not just from its beauty but by its uniqueness. There will only ever be one like it. It's impermanence is what gives it some of its value. It may last a long time, but probably not forever. Working with real world materials force decisions that can't be corrected later on and can lead to very different decisions during creation. So while digital images may be on par visually with traditional art, and have certain advantages over it in terms of reproduction and flexibility, the things that make traditional art so rare also give it a value digital art can't replicate.

What do you think?