Hi. Remember when I used to post regularly on my blog? Ah, those simple times.
The reason I've been sparse lately is because I'm trying to get stable work in the Greek magazine arena. It's proving difficult. The job I thought I had at Plus magazine is out, apparently. It's an interesting little cautionary tale so I'll recount it briefly for those of you who are also looking for work in the same field. Good to know what's going on out there, right?
I approached Plus to publish comics and do illustration work for them. They said yes, they want an illustrator (as a stable member, who'd work on a few pieces a week) and after a few months when Plus can support it, we could talk about putting some comics in there too.
We explicitly discussed payment, and the plan was this: I wouldn't be paid much of anything until the magazine was stable and drawing advertisement funds. Then I'd be paid as would befit a professional. It was a gentlemanly agreement, and one that is somewhat common with starting up magazines. I don't like these arrangements, but the financial climate in Greece is very difficult now so I hoped to get in on the ground level and work my way up to a humane wage by doing good work. Does that sound simple-minded? I worry about my world-view sometimes.
I supplied art for two of the issues, which I've reposted on this blog for your assessment. I didn't get any calls back for the third issue, and I e-mailed the guy in charge with something like "hey, I guess there wasn't anything to illustrate on the third issue?". No reply. A day later, I call him up and he says "...there wasn't anything to illustrate on that issue, but there'll be more work for you soon, for sure." The fourth issue ran a reprint of a story from a different magazine, and when I was asked to illustrate it, at the very last minute I was canceled because as they found out, when you reprint a story from a different mag, you have to carry the photographic material from it as-is. Those are the breaks, no worries, right?
Well, the last words I heard from the person in charge there, were "There's going to be more work for sure, I'll call you in a couple of days". Here we are a couple of weeks later and there's been no follow up. I take it as a given that this job has therefore fallen through. Any imaginary wages for past work are forfeit, obviously. I've began looking for work elsewhere (though I'm hesitant to post about that yet because I fear the same stop-starts don't make for fascinating reading. If something becomes stable, I'll let you know.) I fear it'll be a repeat performance of this, however.
Here's what's there to take from the Plus situation.
1) Obviously, my work isn't good enough for me to be a sought after artist. Or perhaps more importantly, my name doesn't carry enough weight to be treated with respect by publishers and editors. I will find something positive to take from this realization. I'll become better -- as good as I can get until publishers are proud to have me and pay me for my work. And I'll publish my ZX comic and promote it as much as I can withstand before I go to anyone and ask them to give me work.
2) That said, I should expect and familiarize myself with the reality of employment: professionals acting unprofessionally, not returning calls or giving feedback, canceling me at the very last minute, demanding art at unreasonable time frames, of course not paying me if they can get away with it and finally dropping me without as much as a phone-call. I am not an idiot, I realize employers are not my friends, but you'd expect fields like the arts (which are about specialist skills, it's not about flipping burgers which anyone can do) to have at least a standard of courtesy and communication about the common goal.
3) I get a very strong sense that what was expected for me in that situation was to constantly pester the editor in chief for more work; Call every day, beg and plead for him to throw me a bone, and be glad when I got it. For work that I wouldn't be paid for. I find the ramifications of this employer-worker dynamic very bothersome and do not wish to stoop at this level. I am not in danger of poverty at the time being because my father supports me. I can afford to treat myself with a degree of self-respect... but for how long?
I'm not going to lie, this sort of thing has its psychological toll. Last time it happened to me (the Paraskevi 13s fiasco) I dropped out of the comics world for a full year. It took this blog, and the readers of it letting me know my stuff's worth a damn over and over to get any sense of artistic self-esteem back. Now I have to suffer diminished repeats of the same performance a few times in a row... it won't be as bad because wisdom comes from understanding pain but it doesn't stop it from being very disorienting.
The worst aspect of it is might be that it's not really promoting my work as a comic artist. Getting 'your name in print' is not worthless, of course, but getting it connected in people's minds with what you consider your signature work is the most important goal. Illustrating a piece of text, no matter how smartly or beautifully you do it will not help with publishing comics. It might pay some bills but... the jury's still out on that one. I fear that in my journeys as illustrator-for-hire I will not be achieving much. I am pondering on my further choices in this light.
So, take this as a word of warning: unless you're an amazingly super-talented blindingly awesome artist that is great at self-promotion, has a following and know how to sell yourself and pressure employers... be prepared to be swindled and disappointed by the Greek press over and over. I sincerely hope you don't, but I have to be honest with my own experience if it's to be worth anything to the reader.
On other news, I've started inking and coloring my 24hr comic and I'd have posted a page or two here already here it not for job distractions. On some level I'm just waiting for my current employment plans to fall through too so I can focus on my comics again. Comics, that's what I wanted to do when I started all of this, right? Must realign vector. Anyway, expect a page soon-ish.
I also made some new c64 artwork, it's a pleasant variation on days on which you're not receiving the calls you should be receiving. Here it is, just four colors out of the 16 color commodore 64 palette this time:
(click for pixel-appreciation-time)
If the motive piques your interest, you could do worse than read this very much related piece of writing on my other blog. You see, it's all connected, but so what.