Tuesday, June 30, 2015
When people ask me what it is like to be the artist for DC's Harley Quinn I tell people it is like drinking from the fire hose. Even though I've been drawing comics almost exclusively for a decade drawing Harley is different. Seemingly overnight I went from being the guy nobody pays attention to at conventions to being the guy who can't get away from his booth. Overall my experiences with fans, dealers and publishers has been positive and I am grateful to the majority of those interactions. However there have been a few instances where I wish I had a head's up. So, to you younger more talented guys out there who are about to make your big break; here are my two bits: There are people out there who don't see you as a human being but as a resource to exploit, and if you let them they will suck you dry. Never let your artwork or your art files out of your hands, and if you do make sure it is to someone you know and trust. If you are making sketchbooks or prints the only people who should have a copy is you and the printer. If you decide to let a dealer, or gallery owner, or agent have access to your art or your artwork files you had better trust them completely, otherwise there is nothing stopping them from ripping you off. You will be completely at their mercy when it comes to you getting paid. Learn to tell people "No". Flat out "NO". If someone invites you to a show or a signing but they can only do it if you "do something" for them (beyond signing books). Tell them "No". Basically you need to learn to be a little bit of a dick. Not to your fans, you owe your fans, but you don't owe users anything, Sometimes it hard to spot which is which.
To the uninitiated artist here are warning signs someone is trying to use you: They want you to sign more than 10 copies of the same book. They want to buy a lot of your stuff but only at a discount. They want more than one drawing or commission. They don't want commissions personalized. They want overly complex commissions for a miserly amount. They want to photograph your art. They want access to files or scans of your art. They want to sell your stuff for you. They want access to your original work. Get in the practice right now of just telling people "NO!" Don't waste your time and energy on trying to please users, focus on your real fans. When dealing with store owners, convention planners, art dealers. Talk to other artists and professionals find out who is honest and who isn't (it is a small industry), and just be on guard.
P.S. I got a phone call from some people I work with who wanted to know if they did something to warrant this response and it occurred to me that there might be people speculating as to who caused this post. I'm not going to focus on the guilty party but here are a list of people who help me more than I deserve, and have my utmost praise: Scott Kress, Jacob Young, Jemma Martel Young, Steven Pulawa, Bryan Sharp, Jimmy Jay, Tiziano De Santis, Tushar S Vajir, Raymond Terrazas, and many many others. If this post caused any speculation to your character and your integrity I deeply and sincerely apologize.
Posted by Chad Hardin at 7:38 PM