Welcome back my faithful companions! Your Indie Huntress has returned after a long meeting with Bill Jemas. I barely got out of that office alive. Thankfully, Jude Terror came to my rescue just in time. Donning an axe and a maniacal smile... Pretty sure Gavin Dillinger was behind him playing Hip to Be Square from Huey Lewis and the News. I was barely concious, it's all a blur. There will be more on that story later this week, should I survive the next round of the battle.
Today I am bringing you something a little different. My buddy Dan Dougherty posted an interesting strip via his Beardo page on Facebook two days ago. In fact, The Outhousers even shared it. Then it was shared again...and again.. 1600 times to be exact. When I spoke to him this morning, regarding a possible article around the piece, he told me that it had reached over 227,000 people. Which is mind blowing in itself. In addition to that, it garnered several hundred more likes on his page. He had struck a nerve within the creators' community.
The strip expresses something that, sadly- happens to artists all too frequently at conventions: theft. While is may seem harmless to the general public, or may not be considered theft in their minds, it is. A convention attendee casually strolls up to your table, exclaiming that they just love, love, LOVE a certain piece that is on display- then proceed to take a photo of it, and walk away. This is beyond unacceptable in any situation. I'm here to break down the mechanics of this a bit further. Here is the strip that Dan had posted:
Really grinds you right where it hurts the most, doesn't it? I witnessed several shares of this within my own news-feed on Facebook, with several outcries from various artists saying, "yes! yes! Don't do this, please!" I cannot say how many times I have heard this same complaint from so many people. It happens to all of us. Rule number one of convention etiquette: don't do this. EVER. Let me explain to you why this is such a pain point for any one given artist.
I requested a few statistics from Dan, regarding his art, time spent, etc. Here are some brief highlights on what an artist puts into their work:
On how many times, (average) this happens to an artist at a show: 50
Labor hours on a typical 11x17 piece: 20 to 25
Average charge for prints of the original: $10 (sometimes deals like 3 for $20)
Average table costs at a convention: $150 to $425
Let's dig into this a little bit further. I didn't include costs for travel, or adjust time spent away from family, or even the fact that Dan holds down several other jobs. Yes- this is the life of an artist and a writer, and these costs are to be expected, amongst many others. I'm sure many of you are even thinking, "But Indie- that argument isn't entirely valid. Prints are cheap to make! What about the gross profit margins?!" I can assure, you are not looking at the full equation if you're thinking like that. At 25 labor hours of one piece, for $10 bucks, Dan worked at a meager .40 a hour. He can get what? A case of Ramen on that? Not the ideal diet. Dan also has books availble of his collected editions of Beardo and has released seven issues of another comic, Touching Evil. So there are sales that can be made there as well. Let's look at it like this, hypothetically speaking, break it down a bit more.
Let's say Dan travels to a show, 200 miles away. His table was $200, travel with food and gas was $150, his hotel was $250 for two nights, not to mention the 70 hours he put into preparation with heading to the show, building back up his stock of prints, costs of reordering books, let's say another $150 there, amongst the other 40 hours or so he put in at his day job. We'll just go ahead and pad it up to $800 bucks for costs alone. This means that he has to make at least 80 sales of $10 just to make his money back. If he wants to go home with any dignity, he needs to pull another couple hundred bucks to make it worth his while. Let that sink in for a few moments...
Eye opening, isn't it?
I wanted to present this is a meaningful fashion. With the aim to educate some of the public on these atrocities. Do the fine people in artist alley expect every single person that walks up to make a purchase? NO. They are perfectly happy to speak with anyone that saunters up that wants to take a look at their work. Most everyone that you speak to will tell you that. They are simply happy knowing that someone has taken interest in their work. If they so happen to make a sale, then wonderful! Most of the time, they are set up at conventions in order to further their reach of audience. Often times on the revenue aspect, it can be a loosing battle, especially when first setting off on this venture.
The next time you're at a convention, chatting up an artist, don't be that person. Take a moment to thank him or her on their work, and express your fondness for it, if you so choose. If you can, support them through purchasing their work, or expressing your love for it elsewhere. Dan himself added that he wouldn't even mind if someone took a photo, if they asked for permission prior to. These are wonderful people, just trying to spread their passions and talents around. Personally, I consider myself a lucky individual to witness all of it on a daily basis.
In follow up to that strip, Dan posted another one with the same theme:
The struggle is in fact real...
To check out a more detailed interview with Dan Dougherty, check out the other article I did with him right here on The Outhouse:
UPDATE: This photo was taken today at Cincy Con. Here you can see oblivious convention attendees in their natural habitat, as they shamelessly snap pictures. Another day, another battle. Dan remains in good spirits as the day wears on...No doubt wondering if the 500,000 plus people who saw his strip, absorbed it's full meaning. Way to keep a straight face, and remain pleasant with natives. Indie is rooting for you silently, here in Detroit.
To check out more brilliant works from the talented Dan Dougherty check him out here:
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