Monday, August 16, 2010


One of many reasons why I love working for Hallmark is that it truly feels like an extension of my art education. I still feel like a student. We're offered many amazing lectures, workshops, research days, and every so often (used to be much more common in the pre-sucky-economy-days) we get to go on a trip. A few months ago a friend of mine and I were asked if we wanted to attend the ICON6 conference in L.A. this July. Who would say no to that? This was my first time at ICON. We had a great time, saw many many lectures, and met some amazing artists and art directors. Since this was mainly a group of freelance artists, there were a few topics that seemed to come up time and time again:

illustration vs. animation
contract lingo
getting paid for what you do

It was evident very early on that a lot of clients now a days expect illustrators to have animation skills. This started a debate whether illustrators should expand their skill sets, or continue to illustrate while animators did the animation. In the end, Jesus de Francisco from Motion Theory said it best: Use whatever tool you personally like to tell a story in the best possible way. All movies start with drawings. I agree with him. No one should learn a skill set just because. If animation interests you, now is the perfect time to explore it. If not, there are many other ways to tell a story.

Discussions about contracts were very interesting to me. After hearing many examples and personal stories, I realized that everyone gets to hear the "Well, you're the first illustrator that has a problem with this part of the contract..." from at least one client. I have to say that after this conference I feel much more confident about pricing my work and asking for what I need in a contract to be spelled out in a simple language.

Another thing that illustrators experience on a regular basis is being asked to do work for free. Melinda Beck spoke on this subject. She read a very powerful letter that she had written to a big company who had asked her to do a piece for free because it would be great promotion for her and besides, other successful illustrators have already agreed to it as well... Her letter was so well written, and unlike many illustrators who have the need to blurt out the f word every few seconds, she did it very diplomatically and positively. I wish I had a copy of that letter. I'd frame it and put it in my studio, and I'd read it any time I needed a little confidence boost. There are times and reasons when pro-bono work is very appropriate and fun. But this is something everyone needs to figure out for themselves. However, no one should ever do free work for big corporations and companies.

And lastly, here's a great Q and A quote from the Wayne White presentation:

Audience:"Is the term illustrator outdated?"
Wayne: "Yes. You should be called creationists."

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