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Around July, I requested to be an artists for a game project (that would commercial, but would have all the team members working on it for free and profits would be divided amongst them...I'm not sure how it would work, seeing as most of the members were minors anyway...), and was accepted.

I was eager to lend my art skills (however low they were) for a game project that seemed interesting.

However, now I am regretting my decision to work on any game artwork at all. Due to the content and nature of the game's premise, I thought that the group members would all be of legal age (or matured, at least), but I was wrong...



All of the team members are 18 and younger, and I'm the oldest member there. The atmosphere is very unsettling for me (I don't dislike minors, but it is awkward for me to work with people who are my niece's and nephew's ages, especially when the leader is directing me and he brings up irrelevant personal topics like religion and romance). The leader is also very demanding, and while I can sympathize with his vision for creating a professional game, I am not motivated enough to endure so-called 'critique' and go through 15+ edits of a simple CG (before AND after the CG completion) when my own commissioners only get 2 edits, tops--and they actually pay me.

For example, you don't say that you like someone's art style, have them draw you a sample, ask them to change the art style and then request 5+ edits on a base, and then even request 5+ edits on the full CG when everything has already been inked and colored. 

I don't want to seem like I'm money-grubbing, but along with working with many people much younger than me, working in a position where I have to change my art style and edit far too much for a simple figure CG, as well as dealing with frivolous personal topics, marketing, and other issues, I really don't see myself working with this group long-term.

I keep thinking that I was stupid to accept a position where I would be over-worked, especially during a time when my family was going through a financial crisis. I was even scolded for working on a free project when I could have been working to clear older commissions.

Plus, I really can't work with a person who can only think about profit. It's common sense, but I honestly can't work with a leader who only thinks of making back profit after he sells his game and the individual group members' work is yet to be factored into that.

i.e. "I really want to get this game done so that I can hurry up and sell it at a convention."
I don't think much can come out of a $10 digital download or a $3 demo disc when 14 people are working on it... But money isn't the reason why I want to quit.

As a college student who might graduate in the next year or so, I don't want to be bossed around by high school students for a job that I neither enjoy nor is beneficial for me in the long-run.

I've had many commissioners contact me only to ignore my replies when it came to project work, but this group was eager to take me in for free... However, after taking 1.5 month(s) to work on a single sprite, it made me realize that this was fruitless for me, and now, I could care less about getting 'exposure.' 

And it hurts me a little, because even though I'm not that good of an artist, I also like my ego getting stroked every once in a while, and I suppose that's what made me stay for a while. But I'm done now. They can find a better artist to work for free (even if they say otherwise). I'm grateful enough to have the time to work hard, try my best to improve and be commissioned by people who actually understand the value of an artist's effort.

I apologize if this next part is offensive... It also irks me a little when some people say, "I would love to hire you, but I am a high school student and cannot afford to pay you." I don't know how to respond to that because when I was a high school student, I would save up money until I was legal and had a paypal account to actually commission someone. I don't know if I should pity people who say that or not...especially when there are some skilled artists who do work for free... (not that I'm advertising this since I support freelance artists)




I really regret requesting to be part of this project but have no idea how to turn them down when I've already completed 1 sprite for them and even gave them the high-resolution file. I just don't want this guilt of avoiding them to be present anymore. I have commissions, a life and college coursework and don't want to deal with this other problem in my life, especially when family members and friends have suggested that I just quit working as the group's artist. 

I am an animu artist and love drawing but I just can't work for 'free' in these type of conditions. I've always just drawn free for friends and family, so doing it in such a demanding environment under people younger than me is awkward and draining in my opinion.

I also have a question on whether or not any artist should agree to this?
"I would consider that it's work for hire, and I retain full copyright of the work and have the right to use it anywhere I want without giving credit to you. And you can't use the work as your portfolio and to show it elsewhere.
If you agree to the term, and are able to do (3), then I would consider giving you a continuous work per month, where you will draw certain amount of images for me."

If anyone would like to give me advice on this (please be constructive), I will gladly listen. Thank you for reading my rant.

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( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
hellebore
Oct. 6th, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
Just quit. Honestly. It's not worth it.

As for the last question: I have done that type of work, under the care of a contract written by a lawyer and with someone who has done this type of work often (read: he knows what he is doing). Only we had it written that I did get credit. And it's worked out quite fine.

I would take into consideration if the pay was good enough and if the project was 'big enough' to be worth my time, first.
suzaku_ou
Oct. 31st, 2012 03:11 am (UTC)
Thank you for your advice :) I will reply to him soon.

You had to hire a lawyer for that type of work? I think the person who requested a commission like this is only doing this for a small project or even a website.

May I ask you where I may inquire about the legality of some freelance commissions? Is there a book on this type of thing? I apologize for the trouble.
hellebore
Oct. 31st, 2012 12:41 pm (UTC)
No, my client hired the lawyer. He's involved in entertainment media and knows the ropes... it's because it is a project that will be mainstream eventually.

I use the Graphic Artist's Guild book to set basics for my (non-furry) work.
neolucky
Oct. 6th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
As a professional contractor, I cannot tell you how often I am approached with "free" project ideas and work. Every week, just about.

The big mistake here was agreeing to work for a company that had no room for budget. The entire model of "percentage of sales after finished product" is one that generally fails. There are times when it's appropriate, even fun, to work on projects...but it sounds like you didn't do enough research on this "company" before you leaped headfirst. If these are not trusted friends, or even adults, I would have backed off immediately. This is not meant as an offense, it is simply a mistake made often by those just dipping into this line of work.

You are not under contract or obligation to continue. You have not signed over any rights to this company of work you've done, and I believe you still retain all IP until you officially sign it over. I could be wrong however. There are such things as verbal agreements that can hold. But I have a feeling this 'company' of minors won't be coming after to you in court. So I don't see a threat.

Simply tell them you don't have time to dedicate to a non paying job, and that you have other opportunities elsewhere. It's not rude, or even wrong, to decline work like this. You are not "for hire" because you aren't being hired or even paid. You donated time and volunteered your efforts to a fruitless endeavor basically.

I would give them the pixel art for free, unless you have use for the image I wouldn't fight over it as you did go into this entire project with hopes or working for them in some light. It'd be polite to let them keep the work you did do, out of courtesy and might make parting even easier for them as they will probably be upset that you're dropping it.

----

Don't get me wrong, I really love working with young artists but generally I would not ever go into an agreement without first knowing every little detail about the company. (if they are a company? do they have a license? Or are they a makeshift studio?) Ask for website details, work history, budget...all that good stuff, before jumping in. Hope it works out!
otherscape
Oct. 6th, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
Just tell them it's just not working for you anymore and you would like to quit. That's really all I can say.

"I would consider that it's work for hire, and I retain full copyright of the work and have the right to use it anywhere I want without giving credit to you. And you can't use the work as your portfolio and to show it elsewhere.
If you agree to the term, and are able to do (3), then I would consider giving you a continuous work per month, where you will draw certain amount of images for me."

This kind of thing only shows up when you are working for a company as an employee. If you are a freelance (independent contractor), never, ever agree to this. You're just asking to get screwed over in the future and can't make money off the copyright of your work ever again.

syrusb
Oct. 6th, 2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah I would have already been gone. Don't give them a long explanation, just tell them you don't have the time make this project a priority anymore and you're bowing out.

I would let them have the ability to use the sprite, but not give away all rights so I could not also use it for portfolio purposes.

If you haven't signed a contract and you're working with minors anyway, any agreement is invalid.
ljmydayaway
Oct. 6th, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
If you've decided that you don't want to be a part of the project anymore, just be upfront and tell him. You'll have to decide whether they're allowed to keep the work you've already done for them or not (this can be effected by any contracts you might have agreed to prior to starting work - but then again they're minors, so you can't really legally be held to contracts with them).

"For example, you don't say that you like someone's art style, have them draw you a sample, ask them to change the art style and then request 5+ edits on a base, and then even request 5+ edits on the full CG when everything has already been inked and colored. "

From my experience, yea. Yea they do. :P It's part of making sure the art styles mesh together and it all looks like a seamless piece.

Is this the first time you've received critique in a group project setting? You may just be taking the critiques too personally, I can't say for sure since there's no examples, but I know when I first starting receiving critiques it was very jolting.

Anyways, you've already decided what you want to do, so just do the adult thing and talk with him.


Edited at 2012-10-06 10:36 pm (UTC)
neolucky
Oct. 7th, 2012 02:37 am (UTC)
Haha I was just going to say to the Op as well - professionals and art directors ask for a LOT more then just 5 edits. Expect a lot harsher critique in a professional atmosphere. The notes that artists in the industry get are astounding and sometimes very frustrating...having 5 simple edits would be a dream for most of them!

I think this entire post is more of a case of generic "how do I say no" sort of thing. It helps to be reassured once in a while for someone inexperienced.
shukivengeance
Oct. 6th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC)
"I am no longer able to continue working on this project."

That's all you have to say, and be final about it because they will likely try to talk you around. It's up to you if you want to explain why, like wanting to focus on college, I'd honestly suggest you leave out their apparent immaturity or any personal judgements like that though because it may breed resentment.
It's up to you if you want to give them the ability to use any of the work you've done but be aware that you will likely never see compensation for any of your contributions.

As for "work for hire", these arrangements only exist when there is an explicit contract. When you are a freelance artist taking on commissions you are an independent contractor, your own boss and retain rights to images unless sold, while "work for hire" implies an employer-employee relationship which does not exist without a contract.
Whether or not you should agree to such a contract is entirely up to you, but make sure that you get all the information upfront on what they want vs payment. The payment should be enough to compensate for you not being able to use your own work.
vauvakolibri
Oct. 6th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC)
Seriously, no. Run as fast as you can because trust me, even if they were paying you, the fact that it's a game that's being done by (according by your description) a bunch of inexperienced teenagers pretty much guarantees it's both doomed to fail and will destroy every single of your nerves before it goes down and sometimes even the money is not worth it.
Kinda few things can get screwed up as badly and be more time consuming when done wrong as games (animation would be another, but most teenagers don't have glorified and money filled visions about that as they tend to have with games).

So yeah, like others have mentioned, tell them this isn't working out for you, your budged and your calendar and wish them good luck on their project (but sweet jesus if they ask you to recommend some other artist don't give names).
duster
Oct. 6th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
Even the "you'll get paid based off profits!" smacks of kid-logic and pretty much tells you upfront they don't have a game plan.

Get out and don't look back. I wouldn't even work on a project where everyone is a minor. Projects like those usually fizzle out when they get bored or there's too much drama.
rusti_knight
Oct. 7th, 2012 12:32 am (UTC)
Actually, I've had adults want to do this to me. Asked me to build a website, blanched at my quote and then offered to pay me based on profits. At that point I politely bowed out.

I guess they found someone to do it, or used a drop n'drag generator, I'm not sure, but I know that it's not making them any money because it was a good friend's husband and they are poor as dirt right now.
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Oct. 6th, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
alexds1
Oct. 7th, 2012 12:21 am (UTC)
I have a lot of experience in this area, and have lost a lot of time and tears because of people like this guy you described. You will be more than correct to simply say "thanks, but I have other obligations, good luck on your project," and move on with your life. You don't even owe him that much, but at least you will let him know it's not okay to contact you about continuing. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself, you're absolutely right that these conditions are wrong and that you deserve to be paid for your time and effort.
neolucky
Oct. 7th, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
I was hoping you'd pop in here. You have a LOT of experience in this field! And I had figured you get crazy offers often as well, and probably a heck of a lot more then most, haha.
blot
Oct. 7th, 2012 03:18 am (UTC)
Uh yea. I'd just be upfront about it. Even before we had an investor, our company was finding out prices because plain and simple, paying from profits isn't good for anyone. Because Once you make back your budget, you are probably going to want to put a chunk back for your second game.

I would make sure that you decide on what you will and won't let them keep, depending on contracts. If you let them keep any of the work at all. I'll agree with above though, and say 5 edits aren't too many, I can't even count the number of edits we had one artist do on our first piece of concept art XD
lovegonnadrown
Oct. 7th, 2012 03:32 am (UTC)
Just quit. Tell them you can no longer work on the project, whether you want to go into detail about why is your own decision. If I were you I would also ask them not to use the work you already did for them, or to pay for the rights to use it, or at the very LEAST give you credit for it.

Doing work on spec is a bad idea in general, for a LOT of reasons, and really the fact you are working with high schoolers who have no professional experience should have been your first red flag. There's a tiny fraction of a chance that they could finish and get lucky and make a ton of money, but I can tell you from personal experience that projects like this tend to end in two ways: They don't get finish, or no one wants to buy them.
amocin
Oct. 7th, 2012 06:25 am (UTC)
You can really get burned by doing free art for other people with the promise of money depending on what happens with the game.

From personal experience I have worked in generally the same situation.

While I didnt have to deal with a ton of edits, edits did need to be made, and art was expected quickly without upfront money. There was always the promise of money, and after four years, not a single one of the artists saw a cent. It took everybody rising up and quitting for the game to fail, but this is after the Leader had made a lot of profit off our free work.

Dont get wrapped into that, dont give your work away for free or even for the promise of profits, more so if you are working your butt off for it. I have seen it, I have done it, and it is more stress then it is worth. Even though you have completed something for them, you can either ask them for money up front to keep it as you leave, or you can leave and take it with you. It still belongs to you as they have not paid you for the work. The promise of payment is not the same as actual payment.
ansitru
Oct. 7th, 2012 12:48 pm (UTC)
Get out while you can, phrase it politely but firmly and make sure you retain the copyright on the work you already did.

Honestly, back-end pay projects or "free projects that will generate profit for you!" should make any artist weary if they don't know the company or people behind the project.
celarania
Oct. 7th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC)
I'm going to second what everyone else said about quitting.

General rule of thumb: if this person honestly thought their game/website/comic/whatever was going to be profitable, they would take out a loan to pay their staff. Why share profits when you can have them all to yourself?

As for work for hire: nothing is work for hire unless it is part of a compilation of sorts (which is sounds like it is) and is expressly agreed to in a written contract. I would NEVER do work for hire for free. Also I am unsure of how little work of hire can be used for self-promotion.

However, your attitude is rubbing me the wrong way a little too. The economy right now sucks. People can't afford luxuries the way they could 4-8 years ago. Yes, this even effects high schoolers. Just because you were able to buy art when you were a high schooler doesn't mean these other people are less responsible than you were.

Also, the economy still sucks so be prepared to work for people in a capacity you don't like, for less than you're worth, and for people who don't seem to know what they're doing. While I'm not saying this project is a good idea, I think your ego is a little out of check too. Especially, that bit about not wanting to work for someone who is profit-driven? That's just the way the world works, sorry to say. No matter who you work for, they're going to be worried about their own numbers, sometimes in really ridiculous ways, because their bosses will hold them accountable.

Sorry to be harsh, but I feel like you were using this community to rant a bit and that's not particularly professional either. Go ahead and complain to your friends, in your personal journal, etc. but this isn't really the place. It paints you in a bad light.

Edited at 2012-10-07 05:28 pm (UTC)
suzaku_ou
Oct. 31st, 2012 01:14 am (UTC)
Thank you for your opinion.

The economy was bad when I was in high school--and I still saved up money to commission artists when they needed help (this was after I graduated, and granted, it wasn't much but better than nothing).
I'm not saying that any teen is less responsible than I ever was, nor did I ever allude to that. Saying that out of the blue can be implied as a misinterpretation of my words. I'd rather commission a talented artist in need than spend my money out of instant gratification for things like games, manga, etc.

I don't mind working at a low rate so long as I'm not setting the standard for them and taking work away from professionals at the same level. I got annoyed because profits were all this kid was thinking of, and yet, there wasn't a concrete plan on how to pay all the team members anyway. In fact, he just posted something like this last month:

"Upon the game's completion, staff will be given a fair percentage of the acquired revenue according to the quality and quantity relative to their services. Artists applying for this project may suggest a price for their work per background or cg, but considering I am still a student and do not have the ability to pay business prices, it would be much more convenient if immediate payment was not necessary and therefore applicants that will work for free or do not require immediate payment will be prioritized. Being paid per completed art would also mean that no percentage of revenue would be given to that person. Art quality is also still very important and will most certainly be taken into strong consideration. If you are worried about the project's completion or success, I can only state that the key people involved have no intention of abandoning their positions. You can decide for yourself if you believe that there is enough potential in this project to be successful."

I've just asked one of my honest and trusted friends this yesterday and he said it was very unprofessional to suggest prices like this for the amount of work and quality desired.

More than 2 months prior to him posting this, I've already consulted friends concerning the amount of work he asked me to do for a single sprite. They already said it was horribly unfair, but none of them were professional artists--most weren't even artists but knew it was wrong.

I DIDN'T post this to rant. I posted to ask for advice from fellow artists, especially after reading the person's new post on how he'd pay new artists wages but the current team members and I would only get a percentage of the profits.

Even though I've been doing commissions for around 6 years offline, I still lack knowledge when it comes to pricing and business practice, and from my experience, this has been the only community that actually offers constructive advice.

As a person, I'm not going to just sit here and twist my intentions without knowing my side of the story.

celarania
Oct. 31st, 2012 01:46 am (UTC)
This is the part I felt like was ranting: "...It also irks me a little when some people say, "I would love to hire you, but I am a high school student and cannot afford to pay you." I don't know how to respond to that because when I was a high school student, I would save up money until I was legal and had a paypal account to actually commission someone.

I don't see how that relates to the issue at all or is even more than a personal complaint and it does reek of "When I was in high school I was better than they were!" If you want to give me an alternate explanation, go ahead, but it's not advice.

I got annoyed because profits were all this kid was thinking of, and yet, there wasn't a concrete plan on how to pay all the team members anyway.

Being annoyed that he had no plan/way to pay you is fine, being annoyed that he was profit-driven is not reasonable.

I DIDN'T post this to rant. I posted to ask for advice from fellow artists, especially after reading the person's new post on how he'd pay new artists wages but the current team members and I would only get a percentage of the profits.

The first thing I did was I answered your questions/gave you advice. However, the second half of your post has little to nothing to do with advice.

Plus, I really can't work with a person who can only think about profit. It's common sense, but I honestly can't work with a leader who only thinks of making back profit after he sells his game and the individual group members' work is yet to be factored into that.

i.e. "I really want to get this game done so that I can hurry up and sell it at a convention."
I don't think much can come out of a $10 digital download or a $3 demo disc when 14 people are working on it... But money isn't the reason why I want to quit.

As a college student who might graduate in the next year or so, I don't want to be bossed around by high school students for a job that I neither enjoy nor is beneficial for me in the long-run.

I've had many commissioners contact me only to ignore my replies when it came to project work, but this group was eager to take me in for free... However, after taking 1.5 month(s) to work on a single sprite, it made me realize that this was fruitless for me, and now, I could care less about getting 'exposure.'

And it hurts me a little, because even though I'm not that good of an artist, I also like my ego getting stroked every once in a while, and I suppose that's what made me stay for a while. But I'm done now. They can find a better artist to work for free (even if they say otherwise). I'm grateful enough to have the time to work hard, try my best to improve and be commissioned by people who actually understand the value of an artist's effort.

I apologize if this next part is offensive... It also irks me a little when some people say, "I would love to hire you, but I am a high school student and cannot afford to pay you." I don't know how to respond to that because when I was a high school student, I would save up money until I was legal and had a paypal account to actually commission someone. I don't know if I should pity people who say that or not...especially when there are some skilled artists who do work for free...


Name one thing you asked for advice about in those four paragraphs, heck, point out how that was advice-critical information. That's why it feels like you were using AB for a rant. It's about how you don't like your boss (for a personal reason), you don't want to be bossed around by a high schooler, how annoying the project was for you, how your ego is hurt, and how high schoolers say they have no money, but want to commission you and how you managed with your funds. None of those things is something any of us can give you advice on. The purpose of your post was initially advice, but you did drift off into a personal complaint/rant.

I can only comment on what you said, not your intentions. What you posted contained a long section that didn't contribute to the post about how annoyed you were about stupid, little things that didn't effect the situation (some that weren't even part of it) without asking for any advice on that. How is that anything but a rant.

Also, just wondering, why are you commenting on this a month later?
suzaku_ou
Oct. 31st, 2012 03:08 am (UTC)
No one else has attacked me for this, and I had no intention of posting something "unprofessional." If it was truly too personal, moderators would have rejected my entry.

First of all, I don't think any older artist for hire wants to be bossed around by a high schooler for no pay (I didn't know that he was a minor from his posting; it wasn't mentioned--I thought he was legal due to the content/rating of the project). Secondly, the project was annoying because I was also in summer classes when I did this, but even while the person knew that, I would still be nagged (again, for no pay, and twice the effort). Thirdly, one thing that really annoys me is when teenagers type in a way that makes it seem as if they're begging for art. I didn't use the exact words in my post, but to me, it makes it seem as if all the time I put into my art is worth nothing. (Don't get me wrong, I do draw for younger online friends and nice people in general.) My ego is constantly hurt not because of the multitudes of talented artists in the world, but mostly by people who heavily devalue my art, and insult me for no reason at all.

While I do value your contribution to my questions, I can't help but think that you're another person getting a kick out of making me feel bad about myself. I've heard that I should grow thicker skin, but when there's a single dissenter out of the many kind people who have offered constructive advice, I can't help but wonder. If you want to find someone to bully, please go elsewhere.

I'm a hard-working college student who cannot always be active on social sites (plus, my inbox is spammed by Russian spambots and the like so I can't always get to comments right away), but when I am online, I don't want to deal with any insensitive people.
kayla_la
Oct. 31st, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
This is getting way too personal, so I'm freezing this here. If you two want to continue your discussion, please take it to PMs.
dingus
Oct. 7th, 2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
never work for free

if you want to donate art to a project or charity or something, or give someone gift art, that's one thing

(edit: i wouldn't even offer 'free' work to charities; you can offer it pro-bono, which would let you write off what the work was worth as a donation on your taxes.)

but never ever believe someone who approaches you with the promise that you'll get paid in profits/royalties/work down the pipe/etc

http://shouldiworkforfree.com/

echoing everyone else, yeah, quit immediately. you owe these people nothing.

as for this prospect-
"I would consider that it's work for hire, and I retain full copyright of the work and have the right to use it anywhere I want without giving credit to you. And you can't use the work as your portfolio and to show it elsewhere.
If you agree to the term, and are able to do (3), then I would consider giving you a continuous work per month, where you will draw certain amount of images for me."

not unless they were offering a hell of a lot since you're essentially selling the right to an image along with your services (drawing or whatever). not the same thing, and the price depends heavily on what kind of money the person is making off the property. if they're going to be assholes like that about it, probably not all that much, because no professional worth working for would have such inane demands.

i'm trying to think of what kind of project would require artists not being credited AT ALL. video games have credits. trading card art usually has artist credits. book illustrations usually have credits or at least allow an artist's signature in the corner or something. idk why it'd be so important to obfuscate who did art for a project.

Edited at 2012-10-07 05:40 pm (UTC)
mandyseley
Oct. 7th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC)
Echoing what's already been said. "I am no longer able to work on this project" and that's it.

I would seriously caution you against giving any reason for it. You don't owe them any more than a "no," and giving them any more than that will invite them to argue and try to talk you out of it (especially since you've already seen them bring personal issues into your professional business).

Be firm, be final, and don't get dragged into a "negotiation."
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