Friday, July 24, 2009

Ninja Mountain Episode #26 - Love Hate Sleepy Time

It's that time of the week again. Set your ears to stun and tune in to the latest slice of happytime sugartaste goodness from Ninja Mountain!

We're back to a compact and bijou hour long show this week as the whole team were frankly exhausted.  In spite of their advanced state of fatigue another wonderful* show was wrung out of them drop by drop until the sonic cup verily flowethed over!  This week we take listeners calls once again, with two questions from the wonderful Christopher Burdett, and the fantastic Caroline Himmelman.  And in fact we even come close to answering some those questions!  The love runs free and its hug time for everyone.  

This week's questions:
Why are fantasy artists apparently so nice to each other when we're all in competition?
How do you cope with falling short of teh awesome?
Would you talk about a bad experience with an art director? On line? With friends? (We might not get round to answering the friends part in much detail since we got motoring on the online topic...)

Between the actual content there's a gold mine of actual singing, dancing and all the other things four freelancer artists do when they are too tired to know any better! This week's show is presented by Andy, Jeremy, Jon and Socar.  

We mention it in the show, but it seems appropriate to give a shout out to our other caller of this week, the mighty ATOM, who's call will feature on next week's show when we have our resident monitor expert back on hand to give some real information.  Thanks ATOM, we love you.   As ever you can call the show on Skype via jon.hodgson.

The Show Notes
(Caroline is also on the WIP Podcast (Good interview this month guys! I was cheering! Jon):

*c'mon this is ad copy, what do you want?


Joe Slucher said...

It just seems logical to be nice to other artists because you never know where people will be later. For example. Despite a low skill level, I became art director for a little company where I was getting submissions from some surprisingly good artists. One of the submitters was quite good but had been a dick to me. Did I let my personal experience effect my decision? You bet.

ATOM said...

Nice warm podcast!

I just started out in the big bad world of freelance artistry in 2007,after about a fifteen year break,during which time I was far from being really committed to my art.It would have been a darn site more of a struggle, if it had not been for the Altrustic & helpful endeavours of many RPG artists, some of whom are now good friends.It is thanks to artists like yourselves that beginning artists get a much needed leg up in the industry, thanks guys.
Can you feel the love!

HydeSite_Is_2020 said...

Ew. Without Patrick the Ninjas put down their nunchakus, pick up Nyquil (everyone sounded sleepy) and devolve into some kind of gooey hippy hug orgy. 'Still a good show though, thnx and all that.

Is there really love in the air amongst the published? Mayhaps. Certainly we could all drink 66 ounces of beer together and lovingly gripe but real love is upholding the business of the field for each other. Jon is still throwing out his lovable chestnut about the industry: "If anyone says to you that this is an abusive field then they are not talented enough to get work." Well, certainly talent can equal work but this mantra is irksome on many levels. Already my malcontent lumps me into his category of those lacking said talent. It's an eloquent defensive statement that comes off more like denial. That way of thinking kind of reminds me of the patriotic grime after 911 of "speaking out against the war is a betrayal to one's country." Ok, I know it's a reaching comparison, but I'll say it again, when payrates have steadily declined overall for the last 20 years and deadlines quickened, something's gonna give, eventually. If this has sadly become my mantra and repeated word of caution, then blech, I want a new one. I denounce it. "Fantasy illustrators are helpful and nice" is a much better, and hopeful idea.

As for what to do when you feel like it's just not worth it anymore? Ahh...yes. My recipe for margs: 1 shot of Triplesec to every 2 shots of Tequila (do not use Cointreau, just get the bottom shelf Triplesec but do buy a decent tequila for crying out loud). Take the time to squeeze fresh limes and even a lemon, then mix in 1/3 cup lime concentrate.

HydeSite_Is_2020 said...

I got it! My new mantra:

"Self-Hatred Galvanizes Me."

(priceless...Socar better copyright that immediately)

Andy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy said...

I want more gooey hippy hugs!!!

Unknown said...

I know sleepy only too well at the moment!

I'm impressed that along with the masses of work that you have on your plates that you can make the effort and take the time out to do these podcasts every week. When're you guys/gals going to have a break? :)

Good work again gang, and I hope you can rest and feel rejuvenated soon!

In my experience most artists I've come across are really friendly and helpful, obviously there are a handful that seem to have a different ethos and treat everyone as evil competitors, each to their own I guess.
Since this podcast started there seems to have been a massive out reaching of hands, with artists linking up together who might not ever have even have known of each other before. Every single artist that I've come across and had some kind of personal contact with have been wonderful people.
If there's one thing this podcast has done it's shown that we have a brilliant community of artists who are mostly willing to help, teach and give advice.. that's a fantastic batch of elements to have. :)

I'm looking forward to your return Patrick, to see what juiciness you bring back with you from the con!


Joe Slucher said...

I've got a question. How do you go about pricing original fantasy paintings?
Hard to find what others are charging unless you're at a convention and ebay has numbers all over the place. I've heard of some artists strictly charging by the size regardless of time spent,quality,etc.

Unknown said...

I'm sure Jeremy could help you with that one Joe. I know there was (possibly still is) a forum he was a member of that's floating around somewhere, for artists who deal in traditional media... Buying/selling/pricing.
I'm sure he could pass that onto ya :)

Andy said...

Hiya Joe - back when I was still doing everything in oil, I'd charge anything from £150 to £400 (about $250 to $600) and that was based on several things - size, the prestige of a product it was used on, and most importantly how good I thought it was and how much I liked it. The more I wanted to keep it, the more expensive I made it!

You can't really go wrong I think if you base it on an hourly rate either, as long as you are a little flexible. No perfect answer to the question, mind you.

HydeSite_Is_2020 said...

Unfortunately, pricing by the medium only works for 3D sculpture now (actual bronze and stone, etc.). I truly feel for the traditional painters since their work takes more time and costs (probably) more in materials than software overall, yearly. Worse, they usually have to get it digitized themselves.

Charging on size barely makes sense in a mostly digital world, since trad painters are working against digital painters to which size no longer is relevant. Plus, a publisher can and will change the sizing if they see fit and "accidently" forget to compensate for it.

About 6 years ago, I began discussing price in terms of the number of "central elements." This works for me because it takes more time to create figures and crowds of figures than background elements, etc. A monster, a specific castle, or an artifact or a specific detailed weapon all apply as central elements. Talking price in terms of counting central elements also deters your client from attempting to throw "everything and the kitchen sink" into one scene. I believe that this system would work for most of us, whereas size and medium does not.

Also, if they want it in half the time then they should pay rate + 1/2 total rate for keeping you from sleeping!

Jaybird said...

I finally got a chance to tune in!

The podcast meandered a bit and I missed Patrick's sardonicism (it's a perfectly cromulent word), but overall it was a good exchange of ideas and opinions. That's the whole point, isn't it?

On the topic of self control, I have to say that I've been guilty of cyber-lambasting a publisher out of utter frustration with his business practices. Whether I felt that I was right or not, in hindsight I should have fought harder to continue biting my tongue. This is a really small niche we're in, and while my business didn't suffer any discernible decline, it is awkward to frequent the same conventions and forums as the subject of my aggressions. Recently, we were both invited as guests to a VERY small Con and had no choice but to rub elbows all weekend. Awk-WARD! Sadly, I'd had a good relationship with this man in the past, so it would have benefited me to reflect on the situation a while longer and not to jump on the dogpile. Live and learn, I suppose.

That just nails home the "Never air your grievances publicly" theme of the podcast.

On the other side of the issue, I was once listed by name on the blog of a hobbyist publisher who had taken exception to my very polite denial of his request for free work. Amid his raving tirades about artists being money-grubbing flakes with no passion for the hobby, mine was the only name he specifically dropped. Initially, I was furious and it was all I could do not to jump in and tell him how much of my shit he could eat and what he should do when he got to the fountainhead. After a few hours of reflection (and a couple of private WTF??? email sessions with my peers), it occurred to me that he'd actually done me a favor. Anyone who would be dissuaded from contacting me by reading his posts is likely someone I wouldn't want to hear from anyway.


Joe Slucher said...

This isn't about commissions. I would charge the same as I do for my digital work. I'm talking about selling work that has already been made.

When it comes to that, you're obviously going to charge a lot more for say a 22x36 original painting than you would a 22x36 digital print.

HydeSite_Is_2020 said...

"artists being money-grubbing flakes with no passion for the hobby"

That's right! Some of us are s-e-r-i-o-u-s in the sense that this is our love AND our only job or way of earning a living. What a complete miscreant that guy was. I would wager that most of those a**holes make more in a year than we do, and they would laugh at our yearly income statements but the second we ask for proper wages they cry about how we flip from flake to hobby-hating businessman. It's all a not-so-subtle way of controlling us. I love gamebooks but I would NEVER do art for free because it's a honed salable skill and unique ability. The second one gives away their talent for a nonlivable wage, they have crossed a line into hobbyist and should stay there, out of the way of the rest of us.

Jaybird said...

From what I could gather of his posts, the gist was that he'd contacted a number of artists to contribute art to some megadungeon he was creating. A few, like myself, kindly passed and a few more took on the assignment for free (or maybe he'd offered to throw a pittance their way by then), only to eventually "flake out" and not complete the work.

His main beef was that this was a hobbyist venture which would not be seeing publication. The writers, cartographers and various other contributors had agreed to work for free, so he couldn't fathom why the artists either demanded payment or were completely unreliable. So, I guess that he was mad that I didn't want to invest in his personal dream.

Really, the most surprising part was that I stumbled upon his blog over a year after he'd contacted me. My initial communications with him had been friendly and professional. I thanked him for his interest, but told him that I was unfortunately too busy with paid work. His replies via email were equally cordial, with no sign of disdain.

Then, several months later, I accidentally tripped over him blasting me (and the other, nameless, money-grubbing flakes) on his personal site. I have no idea why he felt the need to name me personally. As I stated above, cooler heads prevailed and I resisted the urge to get into it with him. Instead, I bent ATOM's ear about it all morning, and managed to see the upside.

However, it was no less infuriating.

HydeSite_Is_2020 said...

Sorry Joe. I read your post and then came back to it hours later and by that time I was mentally derailed.

I don't know much about pricing original work but the times I did, it was about the same as what I would have charged for the commission.

One should consider a receipt for such sales that discusses what kind of rights the purchaser of original work has over the painting. Some people think buying a painting means they can also scan it and resell the usage.

Unknown said...


Don't know if this is the best place to suggest a topic or two but here goes!

1. Copyright; I know it's been touched apon before but I felt it was topical thanks to Mr Purdy's posts on twitter about the 'Jon Foster/Sam Flores controversy' of one artist pillaging anothers composition and ideas. If say, someone did this to a piece of my work I would be furious, but I have known of others who just shrug it off. I suppose what I am trying to say is have any of the Ninjas ever had their work stolen and how would one go about rectifying the situation?

2. The Artists Agent; I didn't know such things existed, or at least not in the realm of mere mortals. A family friend who is an illustrator and painter said that she used an agent for a while. What are your experiences of agents, are they good to get your first few gigs, what to watch out for and what makes a good agent?

Thank you chaps for producing these podcasts, they have answered so many questions in my curious mind :)

All the best


Christopher Burdett said...

Thanks Ninjas for getting to my questions! Due to Comic Con I only just now had a chance to listen to last weeks episode. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. You guys rock!

A follow up from Comic Con, I ran into loads of nice, friendly gracious, helpful and encouraging fantasy artists. Really invigorating!