Monday, June 15, 2009

Post #2000: Don't Work for Exposure

This is my 2000th post at the Mike Lynch Cartoons blog on Blogger.

For something that I started on a whim in 2006, I had no idea until recently how much this thing is part of peoples' routines. My thanks to you for reading, for making your comments.

I write a lot about how you sell cartoons, why you need to keep your rights, and why it's important to persist, in spite of the odds.

Which brings me to the Google story that some of you may already know about.

And keep in mind that this company made $1.42 billion in the first quarter if 2009 (an 8% increase over the same quarter in 2008).

This New York Times article by Andrew Adam Newman shares the good news that some illustrators received from Google:

Google wants your artwork for its new browser.

And then, the other shoe is dropped:

Google will not compensate you.

Please keep in mind that the call went out to established, paid professionals.

I'm glad that some artists said no to this working for exposure proposal. After all, many print illustrators are seeing their fees cut. In the meantime, a Google spokesperson says,

" ... we are currently working with dozens of artists who are excited about the opportunity to be involved in this project."

And, Google adds, it isn't releasing the names of these excited artists.

I am frustrated that those dozen of artists agreed to this. They are wrong.

I continue to write and draw my own cartoons full-time. But I'm also making choices to cut my overhead in as many ways possible (no Reubens convention for me this year, no MoCCA, no vacation, etc.).

Yoshihiro Tatsumi says in his huge autobiography A DRIFTING LIFE, that being a cartoonist is "like a traveler in the desert, searching for an elusive oasis."

While there is no guide, there is common sense. Keep walking. Keep moving.

Keep moving -- especially when a corporate giant like Google, that as we all know pays a decent wage to many of its employees like programmers, executives, media consultants, secretaries, etc., asks for your hard work for free.

I'll be here tomorrow, ever insanely optimistic that cartooning will work out for me and for all of us.

Hat tip to Tom Tomorrow.


Nick Fechter said...

Wow, you'd think some company with huge size and vast wealth like GOOGLE would have the decency to pay someone for hard work, but with coming of this recession, it seems that NO company can be entirely trusted to uphold common courtesy, no matter HOW cute or adorable their advertisments are.

Oh, and congratulations on your 2000 post! That's very impressive.

leifpeng said...

Great post, Mike - (and congrats on your 2000th post!)

This story had me absolutely livid when I heard about it this morning. Honestly, I think artists who fell for Google's ploy need some common business sense beaten into them.

I can see why Google, if any company, would subscribe to the "free content" philosophy - they built their empire on the concept of giving (other people's) content away for free. You and I do it with our blogs, right? And Google earns those billion$ in ad rev. from the free content we provide.

They created the vehicle (Blogger) for us to reach out to millions of people... and that's how they see the "content" these illustrators will provide for their latest vehicle: the Chrome browser.

But the prescedent this will set and how it will impact what's left of the profession of illustration makes me absolutely nauseous.

Mark Anderson said...

GRR!!! And all this after I switched to Gmail over the weekend! CURSES!

Chad Frye said...

Hi Mike. When looking to set up my own blog, I refused to use Blogspot because, as a Google owned company, Blogspots fine print said that whatever I posted on my blog they could have free use of for whatever they wanted. They've already got your art my friend.

And remember, Google is the one pushing for that Orphan Works Act we all hate so much.

Paul Giambarba said...

As Walt Kelly said, "We have met the enemy and he is us." If everyone said no, they would simply have to pay. Those who will work for exposure are scabs -- to use an old trade union insult.

dan Reynolds said...

I'll say it straight out...if you give your work out for free you might as well wear a t-shirt with an arrow pointing upwards..."I'M WITH STUPID".
No need in mixing words because there's no nice way to put it.

RoB said...

My first post! Does anyone remember Scott McCloud's experiment with what I think was called BitPay? You would establish an account with a small amount of money and then be able to pay for content on the Web - like certain comics. No middle man (except for BitPay itself) and the artist could collect about the same amount as s/he would after receiving the standard percentage from book sales in a store. BitPay folded, but I think it's a great idea.
Not paying for something is like playing poker with matches - there's no value. As a life-long fan of comics, I wish all you artists out there the best of luck. I'm willing to pay for a laugh (especially when the free ones are few and far between).

Anonymous said...


--Tony Murphy

Mahendra Singh said...

Businessmen have been s******* artists since Lascaux.

What's new?

The ironic thing is that most of this donated art will look like clip art. Serves both the illustrators and Google right.

tomasz said...
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