This past week I had a bit of a revelation about the practice of mostly comic and genre artists drawing pin-ups or images of heroes/characters from major company "universes" for promotion or at conventions for sale. I myself have done it and it seems pretty ubiquitous. But I realized this week after talking to some students about the practice that it might not be the best thing for us.
The positives for the artists are obvious:
1. It can be fun
2. Its a good way to test out your chops.
3. You can measure your skills against other artists in the field
4. You can gain some quick cash
5. You maybe even can do some prints of other people's characters and gain some more cash.
6. maybe a real art director from a real company might see your work and pay you to do what you would happily do for free.
The cons are less obvious but potentially more damaging:
1. You aren't working on your own ideas.
2. You are one of the five hundred other guys to draw a spidey pin-up
3. You will be known not for your own work, but for the work you do in response to others creations.
4. You are essentially acting as the PR and advertising firm which promotes the property along with all the other artists at a show.( If all the artists at a convention or online post places like deviantart are drawing " Han Solo" then Disney/Lucasfilms can spend a little less on advertising and hiring artists to create art to promote the new films. As the excitement for the new films will undoubtedly rise, more pin-ups will appear and soon, the movie will open to bajillions of dollars promoted by all the online artists who have given up their free time, creative energy and brainpower( not to mention materials)
5. note that I wrote " spend less hiring artists" in the last one….Hmmmm.
6. "maybe" a real art director from a "real" company might see your work and pay you to do what you would happily do for free.
7. you don't own your work. If you add something to your Han Solo piece and someone at Disney likes it, they can incorporate it right into their world without a second thought toward you( this is pointed especially at people who write fan-fiction)
8. It dilutes your "brand" as an artist. You are one of many. You are seen as less original by the non-geeks in the world many of whom are willing to purchase art of a more personal type.
9. you are potentially selling yourself short and sending the message that your work is throwaway and cheap. Why should you be paid $800 for a cover when you did a comparable piece for someone at a show for $100 or less?
10. Follow up to the "Brand" your work is less collectible as yours. You cannot build a really big reputation on it. and for a small amount, you are losing the time to create more original beautifu things you own to pander to a license-minded group of buyers.
This conversation came up after we had been discussing why artist pay has been decreasing in the last few years.
This might be some of the answer? I don't know. But it sure makes me think. Anyone else?