The (sketch)Book of Riot

The process and progress behind the illustration of the egnimatic Natalie Cutrufello, who is very modest and also beautiful.

F U Pay Me

Today I was doing my normal “read things on the internet to waste time I don’t actually have.” thing. I found this article about making it illegal to fail students who argue with popular scientific belief.


First a note on that subject: this is America, you can be a creationist if you want. When you take a test on facts in books, you need to prove you read the text and retained the information. But you should absolutely be able to question what you read and argue your own point of view. That’s how science works, you question something and try to prove it. Sometimes you discover things that way. Just use the scientific method and saying “because magic” isn’t science. So I’m not all offended or depressed by the law.

What caught my eye about the article wasn’t even the subject, it was the illustration. I immediately thought that the piece looked like one of Zina Saunders but I could not find a credit or link to confirm. Plus the subject matter being Sarah Palin meant it was a few years old. All of those things put up a red flag for me. Every illustrator wants credit if their art is going to be used. And Sarah Palin had nothing to do with the article at all. Sometimes publications will buy rights for an old piece so it’s not out of the realm of possibilities, but it just reeked of google image search. So I contacted Zina and low and behold, they were using the image without her permission and without payment.

Illustrators make their money off of their work and their ability to re-sell the rights to it over the years. It’s incredibly important to retain those rights. But with google and everyone’s sense of entitlement to whatever content they find on the internet, we get cut off at the legs a lot. It’s incredibly hard to police this stuff. As a community we kind of have to stick together like that, and for the most part we do. I see people all the time sounding the horn on art theft.

It just drives me nuts really. People think if it’s on google it’s fair use, if they can right click and save it’s fair use. It’s not. In every creative industry the artist/creator is the one getting screwed out of a paycheck, no one else. I think it all started with record companies. They over charged the crap out of their customers while paying next to nothing to their artists. So there was a back lash with the creation of illegal downloading of songs. It was still stealing, but the record companies were robbing people first. So people started feeling entitled to content. They were entitled to new music without having to pay for it. Instead of just looking to the major labels they also started stealing from smaller labels and smaller bands, because they already had that sense of entitlement. Listening to a song on a band’s my space or on pandora is different than downloading their album without paying. Small bands love the idea you can get their content off the internet easily, but not that you can download it, copy it and distribute it around without paying a dime while they’re living in their mother’s basement spending all the money they make at pizza hut on recording equipment.

So people were trained to think the internet meant everything was free, Artists make their money off of their art. That’s their ticket to get out of the minimum wage job, to provide for their families, to actually live in a house that is not a shit hole. There are reasons an artist may give you something for free, good exposure, believing in your project or a cause if it is for charity, a favor to a friend…so sure, it might not hurt to ask. I’m still a bit of a fledgling when it comes to the professional art world, so my rates are lower and I’m more apt to do free things if I get exposure. I do free art for the derby league I’m a part of, why? Because my art is on every flyer and poster that goes out, it’s on banners, it’s on shirts, its on stickers. It’s everywhere. That is great exposure for me as an artist. Plus, I LOVE MY LEAGUE! Helping my league that way keeps the league around. I know their finances, i know they can’t afford to pay me. but hey they gave me a free jacket with the logo I designed for them that I get to wear around. And when people ask me about it I can say yeah that’s my design, I can do that for you to for a fee! And promo my league as well. I felt it was worth it.  But if someone just grabbed a piece of the internet and put it somewhere without asking and letting me make the decision on how my art is used and if the agreement is fair to me, that’s bologna.

When you’re just starting out, everyone will tell you how a project is great for your resume and will give you great exposure so that’s why it’s totally fine that they are either going to pay you slave wages or nothing at all. Don’t buy it. Review the project and make the call yourself. If something is a huge project that will take up all your time, why do it for free? Is the client already making demands of you like he’s paying you top dollar when you agreed to do this as a favor? Not worth the headache. When I did the webcomic Patch, I did it for relatively low pay. The client gave me direction but let me have a lot of freedom. He gave me bonuses when he could. He also didn’t sweat if I was late on a deadline because he knew I had to pick up other work to pay the bills. And if the title got picked up I would collect more money on royalties and such as per my contract. It did look good for my resume and tear sheet to have a whole comic under my belt. It seemed worth it, I made some money, I was protected and the client was a nice guy.

But come on people, pay people what it’s worth! Art is time consuming and requires a lot of talent. If you need an artist at least have an idea of what you should be paying them. Asking someone to do 8 full color illustrations for $50 is awful. Just because you think it will take a half an hour doesn’t mean it will. Skill costs money. Don’t want to pay for art? Stealing images off of google isn’t an answer either. The internet is great to get your name out there. That’s why we put our art out there and make it easily accessible. Not so people can just grab it and slap it on things like a sticker. We do it so you can say “hey I like this art, I would like to own some/use some. I should email them to see how much it costs/how I can buy it”

Think of it this way, you just spent 9 months creating a baby. Then you went through all that hard work of giving birth to it. You’re so proud of your baby. You put pictures up of your baby on the internet so everyone can see how awesome you are at producing offspring. Someone sees that picture of your baby and they think it’s a mighty fine baby. So they come over to your house and just take your baby. They stole your baby and now their using it in diaper commercials. Now your baby is on billboards about abortion. Now your baby is the spokes model for a behavior therapy program. They didn’t ask if you’d like your baby to be a part of that, they aren’t paying you to use your baby. They just came and took it and are parading it around as if their is no question in their right to use your baby. Now you have no baby, just an empty nursery that you can’t even pay for because you don’t have any compensation for your baby.


I guess I’m saying file a copyright on your babies….I think I started rambling.

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