Saturday, July 30, 2011

Intimidating Artwork

[saw the Captain America movie last night...sorry, Josh!...and will be posting about it later today after I've reflected on it a bit. This little "tide you over" post is somewhat related]

I just want to say a brief word or two about visual know, folks that draw and paint and sketch and whatnot. I throw around the word "artist" a lot in reference to any creator or undertaker of creative endeavor, but for this post I'm discussing those guys (and gals) that make pictures using something other than a camera.

There is a huge amount of talent floating around right now.

I mean, the overall quantity of quality art to be found on the market today is just astonishing. To me, anyway. I've read comic books since I was a small child, I've seen masterworks in Italy and Spain and France and London (not to mention the museums of the good ol' US of A), and the stuff in-between (I like to go to art showings or peruse the paintings on the walls of coffee shops and cafes or the prints at sidewalk-street vendors)...and I am AMAZED at the sheer amount of high quality artwork that can be purchased all over the place.

Where do all these folks come from?

Lil' D and I stopped into the local comic shop the other day to get the proprietor's take on the recent comic book movies...

[yes, yes, I read film reviews, too, but you know the quality of your average superhero flick is generally less-than-Oscar-worthy. I'm not going to see 'em for quality cinema, and I want the comic-quality-control opinion of a Subject Matter Expert on the subject. Jeez!]

...and as usual I am blown away by much of what I see. Rows and rows and pages and pages of high quality artwork for sale. More than any one person could read in...well, perhaps ever. Certainly one person couldn't subscribe to ALL those mags!

I even picked up a little something-something: a compilation of Mark Schultz's Xenozoic Tales (something for which I've been searching about two years...). More on that particular find later. Yes, I know it is not recently drawn (artwork from the 80's), but it's still excellent art in addition to being well-written.

[I'm kind of on the same page as Jim Shooter regarding the state of today's comics and the lack of story-telling ability]

But of course, my passion isn't comics (or movies)'s GAMING and the sheer amount of incredible artwork used in recently released games is simply astounding.

Card games. Man, I'm not even talking collectible ones (like Magic, etc.)...just one-off card games by a variety of companies, all with different themes and rules, all with gorgeous artwork. $30 and $40 card games...hoo-boy!...that are so beautifully illustrated, who cares if the game is as playable as Uno. Mad Zeppelin really caught my eye for its artwork (I was browsing Gary's today also), even though the game itself didn't sound all that great.

I was talking to Casey (an artist and gamer herself) who was working the counter and asked "where do these companies get all these fantastic artists?"

Well, that's where the money is these days if you're an artist, she replied.

She went on to explain that, tough as ever as the graphics biz is, for some steady pay one can do illos for card and game companies, although there's a catch: companies only pay you if they actually use your artwork in the game and if they don't use the artwork they still own the rights (!!!) to the stuff you've created.

Apparently companies will commission 10 or more illos, but the terms of the contract (all illos submitted are owned by the company and artist only gets paid for illos published) is fairly standard.

Why the hell would anyone sign a contract like that?!

What part of "that's where the money's at" don't you get, pal.

Ugh. At least when I've exploited artists ( people to give me stuff for free), I've said they retain their rights to said art and are welcome to re-sell and re-use it. But perhaps that's not enough. Maybe I need to pay people in the future, too.

*sigh* I don't have a business right now. I have a hobby. And if it were to ever turn into a "real business" (a la one of the large scale game companies), I'd probably have to start running it like one (i.e. cutting costs and exploiting starving artists as much as possible). Only if I wanted to keep afloat that is.

Shoot. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the pretty pictures.

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