Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Business of Art

Two things have caught my eye recently, one is the debate about plagiarising your own work, which Wiley Miller has pointed out that, strictly speaking, you cannot do - and Mike Lynch, an all-round good guy and someone who is surely a superhero in a parallel dimension, has once again pointed out some helpful hints for newbies on his excellent blog.

What I though I'd do, since I am actually beavering away on some cartoons again, is post something that sort of combines the two things - copying your own work and tips for newbies.

Now, those of you who are familiar with this blog will know I have gone back-to-basics with cartoons, and I just don't bother sending to some markets. I do send to publications that pay well and value cartoonists, and that work from pencil drawings or use that rough to decide what they want. I'm just not inclined to sit inking literally hundreds of cartoons and then send those out on spec to low-paying markets - that's all. I don't think it is economically viable and it is, even for the best cartoonists out there, soul-destroying. So I do what I like to think of as 'drawing smart'. I create less work, and I sell less work, but I make about the same money.

The cartoons I do draw are pencil roughs, with some detail, even solid blacks and often some wash. I scan these pencil roughs into the computer and print out as many copies as I need and post those to the publications, or email or fax the things. Here's one (minus the punchline of course).

Okay, what I'm doing with this is I am writing 4 different punchlines for this drawing, and I hope to sell it to 4 different publications because it will, essentially, be a different cartoon in each case. In fact in one case, I will remove the salmon going in the opposite direction, using Photoshop. Of course what you are saying to yourself is, there is only one original pencil drawing. Well, yes there is, but then I may only sell the thing once and the publication I sell it to may work from the copy they have. Any publication wanting the original inked will get back to me and ask me to do so and they will say, 'as long as the finished drawing is completed to our satisfaction you will be paid x amount. You get it? I stand a good chance of being paid, so that's when I now use the ink. It works for me.

Here's a close-up of the salmon so you can see the wash and the paper I'm using. It's not very expensive and although it is a high-cotton rag content paper, Neenah, made by a Native American company, I did manage to find a source in England. If you click through you'll see the linen weave of the paper and that wash is essentially dirty inky water, which this thin paper holds very well indeed:


Mike Lynch said...

Thanks for the shout out, Rod. Very kind of you.

And thanks for the close up of that paper. Despite what you say, it sure looks like pretty nice paper to me.

I admire you. I could not think up one gag line for those fish, much less four lines. I think it's a great idea -- and if you could do 10 drawings, and achieve 40 different gags, then you would be a cartooning machine!

There are cartoonists that sure use interchangeable visuals with a seemingly endless supply of gag lines. Bruce Erik Kaplan's cartoons always tend to be 2 figures in motion, one with his or her mouth open, delivering a witty remark.

I loved your comment about only doing business with those that value cartoonists. Most of my repeat business is with excellent people who value what I do. If only there were more of them!

Keep fighting, Rod. We're all in this together!

Rod McKie said...

Maybe my fish are just a bad example Mike:>)

Yeah, I like BEK. I think the cartoon he did where one child is saying to the other, 'there's so much pressure to like monkeys' is one of the funniest I've seen in ages.

Actually Mike, it has struck me that some NYKR cartoonists stick with themes - outside the obvious Gahan Wilson slightly macabre gags. BEK does social situations, husband and wife and kids.

I think only Cheney gets away with cavemen these days.

Am I spotting something?