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Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:09 pm
Post subject: Posting Etiquette - Guest Art, Commisions, Contests
Hi All. I need to tackle some great topics that I see revolving around webcomics. This will hopefully get you started (and help everyone else having to work with you) should you decide to delve into any of these areas.
Asking for Guest Art
People doing the Guest Art
- Asking for Guest Art -
A) When it is going to be going up. (If it is going into a stash for later, that's fine.)
B) Where it is going to go after it's been up. (Is it staying in the archive, or dying forever.)
C) When do you want it by. (A hard date, it helps a lot.)
D) Is it for a contest? Let everyone know how is the winner decided, where the winner gets posted, etc...
E) Do you want the guest art with a specific character of yours, or can it be about anything, but in the spirit of your comic, etc. (Also if you're trying to keep a rating for your comic, this helps.)
If you want the strip a certain size, please tell people right away. This is massively important for certain archive programs that might crush our poor comic if it's the wrong size.
G) If you want it formatless, so they can add their comic's natural headers and footers and titles and things, let people know up front so they don't spend all the time doing it etc.
H) This one sounds silly, but provide a real email address. I did a guest art for someone when I was sick off my ass, emailed it to him and I don't think he ever did get it. Also check your junk folders, etc. and find a backup way for people to contact you if there's problems.
I) Check the thread you started often. Usually people are there asking questions for ideas and stuff, or the due date etc if you forgot to post something.
J) Come up with a few teaser ideas. Saying "read my archive' is BS and is going to really piss people off and make you sound high-n-mighty.
- People Doing the Guest Art -
A) Don't say you're going to do a guest art or comic unless you actually are going to do it. I don't even know how many times I've been promised guest art / comics and never got them. I don't take it personally, because all webcomic artists are unrealistically swamped but I probably have had more guest art promised than I actually have in my archives. In my opinion if you're even thinking of typing, "I'll try to do something," don't even bother saying it. Surprise them if you do it, they won't know the difference if you get swamped, computer crashes, parent is in the hospital, dog ate homework, wife having baby, etc.
B) Don't ever do a guest art or comic solely for your own traffic. Nobody's ever done this to me, but its blindingly obvious when people do it. Unless the guest comic is really good, or if it is from a friend this's grounds for automatic recycle bin.
C) Don't expect something in return. (except for a link back. with the proper URL. *cough cough*
D) Do it as high quality as possible, but do it for the other person, not yourself.
E) If it is a guest comic, work in a joke if you can, but never at the expense of the recipient's characters.
Good example: Future Paladin rusting in his armor because it got wet. (I love these by the way, they crack me up hella.)
Bad example: The artist doesn't draw the hands the way that you like, so you do a guest comic joking about how the characters hands are cut off. (True story that happened to a friend of mine.)
F) Don't use your own characters unless you either know the people really well, or ask first. Although I guess I'm a huge culprit of this, I've used my character in 7 of the 9 guest comics I've done that people have used. But since doing guest art, instead of guest comics, I've completely stopped using my own characters. If you don't know someone, you're very safe *not* using your own characters. *Gives Fes credit cuz this needs to be pointed out twice, once for each section. I had it up there, but not here. Thx Fes.*
- Commissions -
A lot of my friends have all kinds of guidelines written out, they all have a lot in common so I consider it a standard, but ultimately it is up to whoever is doing the work. So if you've never done this before on either side of the coin, hopefully this helps give you an idea. This assumes it is a 1-page, single wallpaper-style.
A) Lay down the scope of work up front and stick to it. Characters, Background level of detail, maturity rating, expected art level, requesters familiarity/expectations with what they're asking to be done
B) Break out the price. You have sketch, ink, "paint bucket" color, basic shading/shadows, and then various complicated levels of shading. Each of those take an exponential amount of time. The background itself can take an equal or greater amount of time. Do not assume the background magically comes free or discounted. Also do not assume you magically get complete rights. It is customary for an additional fee (if it is not initially factored in) when making money off of someone else's work.
C) "How many reviews / modifications you get before it starts adding $" You've got to figure out how many reviews you get of the sketched product. This is the least expensive phase. Anything after this causes incredible rework and costs increase exponentially.
D) "Point of no return" Once the sketch is locked down this is generally considered the point of no return. If any scope creep happens after this point there is going to be severely bitter feelings if it isn't handled properly. Be very clear on "point of no return" and make sure everything is locked down. There shouldn't be any surprises before moving past this point, and possibly even expect to put half $ down to be perfectly honest.
In some cases expect to put full down. If you get in bad disagreements after this point, expect diminishing or no refunds. If you are the one commissioning, do not piss off the artist after this point or ask them to do an update out of the intention of the original piece.
Also if you are the one commissioning, make sure you get a time frame with how soon the piece is going to be finished after you pay. That way you don't freak out until which time is appropriate to freak out. Also make sure they are actually ready to accept the money before you send it.
If you are the one commissioned, if you say you are ready, and accept that money, it's time to kick butt and crank the piece out in the time you promised. You do not want to break your time frame. I've seen people lose all credibility on Deviant Art after this point (they walked off the project for like 6 months, all the emails got posted, you get the idea), and their commissioning career was over. Lesson: Do not accept that money until you are ready.
E) Logo / Branding. Some where in there you need to figure out what kind of branding or logo can be agreed on if you aren't getting full rights. The artist gets to sign it no matter what but don't think you can just toss your branding on it without a second thought. I'm by no means a lawyer but this should get you started.
Art Copyright <year> <artist name>
<comic> Copyright <beginning year range>-<end year range> <Company Name Your Comic is Under>
Thank you to Nate, Joanne, and Karen for their wonderful support and understanding. I hope these guidelines help many more people like me in the future.
Let's say you have some spare merch, you have a service / product you provide, or you want to have others decide which piece of guest work done for you is the best. You want to have a contest! You've probably seen Blizzard have comic contests, a company have a new character for their videogame contest, or people have contests to decide what goes into an art book. Contests are very important, and there is plenty of business being awarded now just being based on contests, so let's move forward.
No matter what it is, there are some pitfalls (having contests, and doing contests) and either way, you need to make sure you avoid them.
A) The Contract. As said in Ghost Rider 2, the Devil is in the details. Literally. As soon as you enter your submission for the contest, that contract is essentially binding. Just remember that it goes both ways.
B) Successful submission. Find out what criteria to actually have a successful submission. Who knows how many are excluded for being the wrong file type, file resolution, or submitted wrongly.
C) Requesters' Ownership: Find out what they can do with your work as soon as you submit it, this is very important. You might not want your work ending up on certain products or in certain places, or used for their financial gain, if you lose to you get your work back? Can you post your work on your DA page if you lose?
D) Time frame: Find out what the time frame is, and how much time you have. Find out when the voting is going on.
E) Winning conditions. Find out what it actually takes to win. Does it require a certain amount of submissions from other people? Does there have to be a certain amount of votes? Does it have to be by a certain margin?
In closing. If you don't see good contest rules, it never hurts to ask. Always protect your artwork. For everything else, be prepared to walk.
- Misc -
In my opinion it is now just a forgone conclusion that it is up to the discretion of the recipient that they don't have to accept everything. This is due to the fact that every once in a blue moon the recipient may receive solicited (or unsolicited) perverted, unwanted, ILLEGAL, or harassing guest strips. So... you don't have to mention any of that in your post, cuz it's a given whether anyone likes it or not. Please don't take offense at this or take it personally. It may not be their taste, it may not be their humor, it might not even make sense to them.
Here's another one that I want to add. You need to show the work in progress privately. Same with the finished product. Don't ever post the work in progress in a forum or an area that anyone else can access. In the professional world, especially of digital art nobody would do this. But I still seeing it being done by novices. It is a tell tale sign that you are new if you do this, and will likely get 100% ignored, discredited, and ran off. It's also embarrassing to the artist. The feeling is just not a good one, we will leave it at that. Remember that this is a character the original artist/ creator loves and cherishes. They don't want the art being seen by anyone but them until they approve it. Likewise, they might not want the completed work shown either as there could be various time/project sensitivities.
Thanks all for reading and supporting this wonderful forum.
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