Um, hey guys! Did not mean to disappear off the face of the earth quite so completely there. I have a lot of things I've been meaning to post about my life, and fan stuff, but ... apparently I have things to say about creator rights, pay for artists, and design contests, specifically regarding the Welcome To Night Vale t-shirt design contest
I considered locking this post, and reposting it on my public, real-name tumblr, but ... I want to come at this not only from a professional artist standpoint (something that only kind of applies to me anyway), but also as a fan, someone who is always
making creative work for the sheer joy of sharing my enthusiasm with other fans. (Maybe a little less often than I wish I could.) Over the last few years, I've increasingly found myself in the middle of a fan/creator divide on certain issues (this comes up a LOT with MCU fandom, sigh), and this seems like a good opportunity to address some of that!
So. This post
came to my attention earlier today (via were_duck
's twitter). The writer calls out the people of Commonplace Books (/Night Vale) for their design contest, which (they say) constitutes what is called "spec work:" design work undertaken for the possibility
of future pay (where there is at least an equal possibility of putting in extensive labor for no compensation).( An attempt to further explain spec work. )
Now, I think the Night Vale contest is different
, ( because it's a fan contest. )
THAT SAID, ( here's why this still matters. )
There is one point made in that above tumblr post that is
really important even in this specific situation, this fan/professional grey area (because I do think that doing the work for an official context
starts to move across that boundary!): ( who owns the rights? )
Whew, I know that was long, sorry. Maybe I can try and make it a little more concise, later ... I'm behind on my project schedule for the day! Also, I mean, I'm not claiming to be the ultimate authority on any of this: I'm not an experienced working artist or designer. I've done very little paid work (mostly because I don't want my livelihood to depend on navigating this kind of landscape, tbh). I do
, however, belong to a sprawling community of creators who base various percentages of their living on work for hire, and the faculty I've just been learning from all have decades of experience with these issues, which they worked hard to pass on to us. I welcome other perspectives, though! These are things I'd like to see discussed on the fannish side sometimes!
Also, for more on the kind of atmosphere that leads artists to be frustrated and wary of these kinds of situations, here's a twitter account
dedicated to actual quotations from people trying to hire artists (mostly comic artists) to work for free. Ranges from funny to rage-inducing.