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Looking for some Help/Advice

Hey A_B. I'm looking for a bit of advice about a potential job. I'm not sure if I want to accept it or not (or if I'm really qualified), so I'd like the community's advice on how to proceed.
Someone has approached me about being a storyboard artist for an animation/show they want to produce. They saw an animation I'd done for a contest and some of the other work I've done. I flat out told them I do not have the skill nor patients to animate anything for anyone. They said that was fine and they'd like me to be a storyboard artist instead. I was still hesitant because I wasn't sure how much work it would be/would I be able to do a good job. I said I'd send them some samples and we'd go from there. Part of the reason they want me to work on the project is that the characters for the show are based off of horses that the both of us work with. They feel like I'll be able to better portray them since I know how they act.
They emailed me back and asked for my take on the characters in question (5 in total). I sent back two clean and colored sketches in the style they'd seen (I chose to do sketches encase the thing falls through and I haven't gone through a lot of extra work). They messaged me back with links to some other images I'd done and asked for it to be in /that/ style. The problem is, three of the five images were collaborative works with another friend (who did the lines and I did everything else), which are a lot more realistic than what I do/can do. The other two were the same style, just lined rather than a clean sketch. I let them know about the collaborative ones and said I'd fix the two I'd done so far.
My first question is, is it standard to send kinda final products like that for samples? I feel hesitant to send such completed work because if they don't wind up hiring me then I have kinda put in work I didn't need to. The lines themselves I can reuse for some personal stuff, so its not like it is a complete waste, I am just not sure what is the norm.
My second question, is what /is/ the norm for this type of work? As of now, they haven't mentioned exactly how payment can/would be. Does that come after they see my samples? Outside of the five they asked for, I'm not planning to do anymore, but for future reference was that too many? I'm concerned that if she's asking for lined products she'll expect lined products later, but storyboarding is supposed to be quick, so clean sketches are what I'm expecting I'd product either way.

Any advice (about the situation or what to do in general) would be greatly appreciated!

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( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 24th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC)
they haven't mentioned exactly how payment can/would be.

RUN. Run away from this as fast as you can. This is even worse than the people who ask you to do work "for a % of the proceeds" or "for exposure". At least those folks say you'll get something for the work.

That said, I have to wonder why you accepted work and then produced before a discussion of price even happened. Is that how you do commissions normally?
Aug. 25th, 2015 12:41 am (UTC)
When they initially approached me, they did say they were going to see what their budget is (to clarify, we were talking in person as I was hanging around the barn where we work and they asked for my email).

I agreed to hear the project out just to see what it was they specifically want from me (so I can figure out if the price is fair). Their response email asked for my take on the characters, so I did the sketches. I've never had a commission of this sort, so I had no idea how to proceed. I don't know if it is standard to demand payment /before/ they figure out if they like the work or after. The rest of my commissions are the average free-lance drawing here and there, which is all up front because they have set prices.

Aug. 24th, 2015 07:15 pm (UTC)
Get away as fast as possible. Do not do any work without a contract. Your art in your gallery should be sample enough.
Aug. 25th, 2015 12:43 am (UTC)
Thank you for the advice! I do believe I'm going to message them about getting a firm contract before I do anything else.

Do you happen to have links to something that would help me work out fair terms for a contract and anything I should keep an eye out for when working one out? I have a ToS, but it only covers freelance work, nothing work for hire.
Aug. 25th, 2015 07:30 am (UTC)
Sadly, I dont. I start my commercial work at $500, for something like an icon, and I can sign over different rights, as you can dictate still what can and cannot be done. Or you can just sell the full rights.

Im sure someone will have a much, much, better grasp on it. I've only done logo work, and for charity, so I just flat out gave them the rights, no contract.
Aug. 24th, 2015 07:50 pm (UTC)
...WTF? Wanting storyboards to be lined work rather than sketches is seriously, erm, sketchy. That's not something actual storyboard artists normally do! Big fat red flag there. Combined with the fact that they've already asked you to do work and haven't paid you for it, and aren't even talking about how payment will happen, I'd say run far and fast.

They've already taken unfair advantage of you, every bit of work an artist does should be paid for, even example sketches like the ones you've already done. Yes, even if the sketches aren't what they want and they don't end up using them. They asked you to do work, you did work. An ethical person would insist on paying you for that work, not be asking for more before even mentioning payment.

Honestly it sounds to me like they just want a bunch of free/cheap art and are using this supposed animation project to get it.

Edited at 2015-08-24 07:51 pm (UTC)
Aug. 25th, 2015 12:47 am (UTC)
That part is what gets me as well. I'm wondering if they actually know what a storyboard artist does specifically. They're not an artist themselves so I'd assume they think storyboarding might be more refined than it is.

Given the advice I've been given here, I think I will email them this evening to get the payment/details worked completely out before I proceed. The work it seems like they're looking for seems a lot different than what I thought or feel capable of handling. Thank you so much for the feedback!
Aug. 24th, 2015 08:29 pm (UTC)
As the other commenters said: stop sending them ANY kind of art IMMEDIATELY. Honestly I would just walk away from the project right now, but if you want to give them a chance, before you do any more work you must get a contract from them that details exactly what kind of work you will do, how much work, and how/when you will get paid. Nothing vague, no "oh once XYZ happens and we get some money, then we'll pay you," nonsense. Do not give them a single sketch, color job, or edit more without payment.

If someone contacts you to do art for them, then they have already seen your art and they want it, otherwise they wouldn't be asking you to do it. Why would they need more samples? (Hint: they don't, they're just trying to get free art.)

This is hitting just about every red flag there is; either this person is purposely scamming you or they honestly have no idea how the art industry works and needs to do some research before attempting a big project like this. I can almost guarantee that you will never be compensated for your work, or not compensated anywhere approaching respectable pay. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If something smells fishy, it's because there's a fish somewhere.
Aug. 25th, 2015 12:51 am (UTC)
Yeah, I can definitely agree there. The needing lined art instead of sketches is what really set me off (the sketches themselves are very generic, so I can always use them for something else).

I think they might just not know what they're doing rather than the art-scam. The "characters" in question are based of animals that are not owned by either of us so I would doubt she'd want a ton of art of them.

Thank you for your feedback and I will definitely be using the points you made before I do any more work!
Aug. 24th, 2015 09:00 pm (UTC)
To be completely honest: this smells like an indie project from some well-intentioned person who has big ideas and no idea what they're doing.

There are 34098340987210984 projects like this on the internet, and about 99% of them never get off the ground. Best-case scenario: it actually gets done, gets self-published/self-promoted, and sells about 10 downloads.

There's no benefit to these projects for you as an artist unless the creator is actually willing to put their money behind their ideas and pay you a decent rate for your work (upfront, no "when it rolls out" and no "royalties", because as I mentioned - even if these projects actually get finished, they don't make money.) Give him an ultimatum and if he doesn't offer you a rate you're happy with, and he probably won't, RUN.
Aug. 25th, 2015 12:54 am (UTC)
Yeah, that is the vibe I was getting from the project as well. I had no intentions of doing anything other than these roughs until I got at least some type of payment. Having read these comments, I don't even think I'd go that far.

Thank you for your feedback! I will be contacting them tonight to see about payment and making sure that everything is squared away.
Aug. 24th, 2015 09:15 pm (UTC)
I should probably add, that usually people like this have not set out to scam you deliberately. They genuinely believe that their show/comic book/tabletop RPG/whatever is the Next Big Thing. They may be very nice. Don't let yourself get sucked into it. Many, many artists have been sucked into these projects, sunk way too much time and work into them, and walked away empty-handed.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 25th, 2015 12:59 am (UTC)
It was an individual who approached me. As far as I was told, she had found someone to animate but not someone to do storyboarding (the people she talked to had never drawn horses so they didn't work for the project).

Yes, all pieces I've shown them so far I've had a big sample watermark across so they can't use it for anything. They have no rights to it unless they've paid for it, which they haven't even discussed.

Thanks a lot for the advice! I am going to email them tonight saying I'm uncomfortable doing any more work (especially lined work) until I am paid and I've gotten down what they specifically are going to want from me.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 25th, 2015 01:55 am (UTC)
That is all very helpful for future reference. This particular project is, as far as I can tell, a self-published project so the person I am talking to is my boss.

The last part (on creating concepts without being paid) is completely understandable. I can't make them pay me for work I did of my own free will and under no contract, but I definitely do not plan on doing anymore (or any edits) before I am specifically told what/if I'm being paid for them. I haven't signed the rights away for any of this work so its still mine till I do.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 25th, 2015 02:32 am (UTC)
They didn't mention anything like that to me when we were talking. The only thing I got was that it was /her/ idea and she'd been trying to find someone who could animate horses because when she'd been talking to people at Disney's studio, she hadn't been able to find anyone who had experience drawing horses.

The barn we are at is located just down the street from one of Disney's animation studios so finding people who work in the industry isn't uncommon. She said there was someone else who was going to animate, so I assumed it was just going to be a 3-person team thing. I will definitely ask in the email I'm drafting.

Can you think of anything else that it would be a good idea to ask them about before continuing with the project? At this point, I'm thinking that its more work than I'm willing to do.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 26th, 2015 04:59 am (UTC)
Am I the only one wondering how on earth the girl could NOT find a single person experienced in drawing horses on the Disney staff?
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 26th, 2015 09:03 am (UTC)
Ahhhh, okay! That makes more sense, I just found it a little odd is all :)
Aug. 25th, 2015 01:32 am (UTC)
Sounds like something I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. The amount of money you would earn for doing storyboards for this sort of thing is probably not a sum they'd agree to - and you certainly don't want to undersell yourself!

Steer clear, is my advice.
Aug. 25th, 2015 01:58 am (UTC)
Ugg, yeah its not. I just wanted to see what they wanted and it already seems to have become kinda a mess.

Even if they were willing to pay me, I have no idea how much is too much or too low.
Aug. 25th, 2015 05:00 am (UTC)
I have skimmed some of the comments, so please forgive me if this has already been said.

It seems that maybe the person is not aware of what story boarding is. This is suppose to be quick and dirty, to give an image detail of what camera angles and possibly color schemes should be used in the final product. It would be important to impress this on them, and make them aware that it is suppose to be quick and dirty, cause these scenes could be thrown out should they no longer work for the story, or a different angle wishes to be used.

http://www.mylionking.com/resources/site_images/lk_storyboard1_100.jpg - Like the image here, we all know the difference between Scar and Simba, though outside of color scheme, Scar doesnt really look like Scar. The lines are sketchy, and its generally not a finished product. Thats because this image is not intended for the audience, its intended for the crew making the film, so they have a visual of what they want to see happening on screen before refining it into the animated version. A story board artist should be able to pump these images out quickly, and forsake certain details unimportant to the scene, because thats the focus of the story board, where the characters are, what the background is, and the camera angle.

I hope that makes sense, and I hope that you can help them understand that if they are ill informed of how this process works.. but again, this is a small detail that I dont think anybody else has mentioned.. I agree with the above commenters though, its not a project I would see myself doing because there are just far too many red flags.
Aug. 31st, 2015 02:41 am (UTC)
I think in college once I did some storyboarding for another student who was making an indie short film. I did not charge much but also the work was short and fun; like one hour or so and I was just doing VERY rough sketches showing where people were (think circles with eyes). It was just to get a layout of what the shots would be, nothing more.

(I honestly can't remember what the compensation was it was something like $25 probably)

So anyway, they should be paying you either per panel or per hour, even if it's an amateur-buddy/coworker thing. And they really shouldn't be asking for finished line work.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )


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