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If anyone's wondering why I haven't updated my Galleries for several months, it's because I've hardly drawn a thing since November 2011. The ugly, twisted thing - I don't miss it. How fucked is that? I'd rather go out and build a closet or hang shelves for minimum wage than sit down and try and think up a page to fill with ink and paint.
  • Listening to: Naked woman in shower
  • Watching: The Enforcer
  • Eating: Tacos
  • Drinking: Mexicola

Labor Day and the Cost Of Doing Business in Comics

Journal Entry: Wed Sep 8, 2010, 9:23 PM

From… ComicMix:

"Five hundred dollars.

When people talk about putting regular, old-fashioned comic books online, keep that $500 in mind.

That's about how much it costs for an average page of comic book art, in terms of labor. Figure $100 for the writer, $150 for the penciller, $130 for the inker, $90 for the colorist, and $30 for the letterer. Those numbers go up and down depending on talent and publishers, but that's a nice round number for us to work with.

Let's consider another number: 22. That's the average page count for a monthly comic book story. It's also the number of pages most average pencillers can produce a month. Neat coincidence.

Now start multiplying. That means a penciller will make $3300 a month, or $39,600 a year. With covers, round that up to $42 grand a year. Not a lot of cash there. And the penciller's the highest paid talent on the book. A writer will make $2200 a month, and nobody pays him to write covers. He'll probably have to write two books a month to make his nut. And so on.

But if you're expecting professionals to create your comics, that's what you'll have to spend.

Graphic novels? From scratch? You're looking at about 120 pages minimum-- that's $60,000 in labor costs. Unless you're economizing and doing a lot of the work yourself, that's going to almost insurmountable unless it's commissioned by somebody-- most writers don't have a spare $48,000 to spend on an outside artist. This, of course, is one reason why many "literary" graphic novels are solo jobs-- David Mazzuchelli, Darwyn Cooke, Alison Bechdel, Brian Fies, et cetera-- because the economics simply aren't there to support five hungry mouths.

Any proposal for getting books in print in paper-- or publishing online-- has to keep those numbers in mind. You either have to generate enough money to cover those upfront costs, or find some way to mitigate or reduce them.

So how would you do it? (And no, you can't pay in Monopoly money.)"

By… Glenn Hauman

  • Listening to: Naked woman in shower
  • Watching: The Enforcer
  • Eating: Tacos
  • Drinking: Mexicola
Are You a Professional?
How you look, talk, write, act and work determines whether you are a professional or an amateur. Society does not emphasize the importance of professionalism, so people tend to believe that amateur work is normal. Many businesses accept less-than-good results.

Schools graduate students who cannot read. You can miss 15% of the driving-test answers and still get a driver license. "Just getting by" is an attitude many people accept. But it is the attitude of amateurs.

"Don't ever do anything as though you were an amateur.

"Anything you do, do it as a Professional to Professional standards.

"If you have the idea about anything you do that you just dabble in it, you will wind up with a dabble life. There'll be no satisfaction in it because there will be no real production you can be proud of.

"Develop the frame of mind that whatever you do, you are doing it as a professional and move up to professional standards in it.

"Never let it be said of you that you lived an amateur life.

"Professionals see situations and they handle what they see. They are not amateur dabblers.

A professional learns every aspect of the job. An amateur skips the learning process whenever possible.
A professional carefully discovers what is needed and wanted. An amateur assumes what others need and want.
A professional looks, speaks and dresses like a professional. An amateur is sloppy in appearance and speech.
A professional keeps his or her work area clean and orderly. An amateur has a messy, confused or dirty work area.
A professional is focused and clear-headed. An amateur is confused and distracted.
A professional does not let mistakes slide by. An amateur ignores or hides mistakes.
A professional jumps into difficult assignments. An amateur tries to get out of difficult work.
A professional completes projects as soon as possible. An amateur is surrounded by unfinished work piled on top of unfinished work.
A professional remains level-headed and optimistic. An amateur gets upset and assumes the worst.
A professional handles money and accounts very carefully. An amateur is sloppy with money or accounts.
A professional faces up to other people’s upsets and problems. An amateur avoids others’ problems.
A professional uses higher emotional tones: Enthusiasm, cheerfulness, interest, contentment. An amateur uses lower emotional tones: anger, hostility, resentment, fear, victim.
A professional persists until the objective is achieved. An amateur gives up at the first opportunity.
A professional produces more than expected. An amateur produces just enough to get by.
A professional produces a high-quality product or service. An amateur produces a medium-to-low quality product or service.
A professional earns high pay. An amateur earns low pay and feels it’s unfair.
A professional has a promising future. An amateur has an uncertain future.

The first step to making yourself a professional is to decide you ARE a professional.

Are you a professional?

Taken from the website, Tips For Success:…
  • Listening to: Loop!Station
  • Reading: 2010 Divorce Guide
  • Eating: Cheese sandwich.
So, I've moved in with my GF. I've been doing a bunch of tee-shirt designs, and other stuff but want to do MOAH! Ask me about commissions. Always open.

Doing some comics for later this year - Kagemono out of Australia, and Massacre For Boys in the UK.

Not doing San Diego ComiCon, going to Vegas instead. Struggling for money. Maybe I'll make it big on the slots. Yeah, right. All I've ever won is $10 on Lotto.

Uploaded some new stuff.
  • Listening to: 16 Bit
  • Reading: 2010 Divorce Guide
  • Eating: Cheese sandwich.…

We’ve all been there before — no clients, no work for our portfolio and nobody giving us the proper direction to move forward. Potential full-time freelancers are often scared because of this instability and not knowing where they’ll find those first portfolio-building jobs (if they aren’t allowed to pull their work from their previous employers website).
So how do you build your portfolio with zero clients and zero spec work? In this article I hope to show you some clear cut, easy methods to building an awesome portfolio that will attract your perfect clients and also showcase your best work — all without doing spec work and without having any clients.

Why Avoid Spec Work?

For anyone who is new to freelancing or has been living under a rock for a long period of time, spec work is where people and/or companies have “contests” or ask the potential designer/writer to create something and only get paid IF they like it enough to buy it. The end result could possibly mean you get paid for the work, but then again, in most cases the work is passed on to someone else and you’re out the time, energy and creative juice you put into the work.

The killer part about spec work (from what I have seen) is that it’s very hard to put pieces in your portfolio from spec work you’ve created. Either the person/company will ask you to remove it because it doesn’t show their website/copy (ie: they’ve chosen another person’s work and yours should not be shown to the world) or potential clients will look at it like you weren’t good enough to make the final cut so something must be wrong with you. You don’t want that.

The topic of spec work regularly generates a lot of debate, though. Most people believe that it devalues the work of designers/writers/freelancers everywhere — and that it should be avoided. On the other hand, some people say that spec work is okay for new freelancers and students to use for building a portfolio. Personally I would avoid it, for the reasons above, but where you fall in this decision is ultimately up to you.

But I Don’t Have Clients, What Do I Do?

The answer to this is quite simple really — you can build your own portfolio and make your own sample peices. Here are two steps that will help you come up with a great plan to get your portfolio built and land the types of clients you want:
Create your portfolio in the style you like most — Do you like to create grungy, beat up websites? Or what about clean cut “web 2.0″ style web designs? Does your copy tend to be edgy and a bit crass or do you write strictly professional, by-the-book copy? Whatever your style is, make sure your portfolio portrays that. If you write romance pieces, there’s no need for your website to look like it’s in the music industry. Same goes for the designers who create sleek, blog style layouts. Why would you want to showcase your work with a portfolio that looks like it belongs to a punk-rock band?
Create personal portfolio pieces — For the same reasons as above, create some portfolio pieces that are built with your personal tastes. If you don’t want to attract the 50+ age group, do not design to cater to their needs. The Hot Topic store doesn’t attract people who are business professionals or in the hip hop industry because that is not their target market.
The benefit to creating work you like and enjoy is that your work will be great. The quality will be awesome because it’s what you like. Not only that, but you’ll attract the type of clients where you can create even more work like that. What’s not to love about being able to do what you want, when you want? Thats one of the biggest benefits to being a freelancer, right?

So class, what have we learned today? :)

Below is a quick breakdown of the things I hope you’ve learned today:

Spec work isn’t a good option for building a portfolio
It’s ok to have no clients when starting
Design your portfolio in the style of clients you want to attract
Create personal pieces for your portfolio in the style you like most
Attract great clients because of it!

In this article we’ve gone over the important aspects of why spec work is bad for portfolio building, and what you can do when you’re just starting out and have no clients to build up your portfolio.

What do you think about building a portfolio with no clients? There are lots of other possibilities out there — what are your thoughts? Do any of you experienced freelancers want to chime in and offer some advice?

As always, we value the input of the readers here — you are all awesome! :)

About the author: Mike Smith is a blog designer at Blog Theme Machine and an aspiring full-time blogger. You can read more of his articles on the Guerrilla Freelancing . Subscribe to his feed to keep up to date with new articles.
  • Listening to: Something or other by Radiohead
  • Reading: Wm. Gibson, Spook Country
"Every day, there are more and more Craigs List posts seeking "artists" for everything from auto graphics to comic books to corporate logo designs. More people are finding themselves in need of
some form of illustrative service.

But what they're NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be.

To those who are "seeking artists", let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? …none?

More than likely, you don't know any. Otherwise, you wouldn't be posting on craigslist to find them.

And this is not really a surprise.

In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you offer a neurosurgeon the "opportunity" to add your name to his resume as payment for removing that pesky tumor? (Maybe you could offer him "a few bucks" for "materials". What a deal!)

Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered "yes" to ANY of the above, you're obviously insane. If you answered "no", then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me… why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know;

1. It is not a "great opportunity" for an artist to have his work seen on your car/'zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a "great opportunity" for YOU to have their work there.

2. It is not clever to seek a "student" or "beginner" in an attempt to get work for free. It's ignorant and insulting. They may be "students", but that does not mean they don't deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a "student" once, too. Would you have taken that job at McDonalds with no pay, because you were learning essential job skills for the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid.

3. The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it's one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their "portfolio". They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It's not compensation. It's their right, and it's a given.

4. Stop thinking that you're giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them. There are far more jobs needing these skills than there are people who possess these skills.

5. Students DO need "experience". But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away. In fact, this does not even offer them the experience they need. Anyone who will not/can not pay them is obviously the type of person or business they should be ashamed to have on their resume anyway. Do you think professional contractors list the "experience" they got while nailing down a loose step at their grandmother's house when they were seventeen?

If you, your company or gig was worth listing as desired experience, it would be able to pay for the services it received. The only experience they will get doing free work for you is a lesson learned in what kinds of scrubs they should not lower themselves to deal with.

6. (This one is FOR the artists out there, please pay attention.) Some will ask you to "submit work for consideration". They may even be posing as some sort of "contest". These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the "contest", or be "chosen" for the gig, and find what they like most. They will then usually have someone who works for them, or someone who works incredibly cheap because they have no originality or talent of their own, reproduce that same work, or even just make slight modifications to it, and claim it as their own. You will NOT be paid, you will NOT win the contest. The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or "spec", work. It's risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely.

So to artists/designers/illustrators looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you. Whether they are "spec" gigs, or just some guy who wants a free mural on his living room walls. They need you. You do NOT need them. Say NO to free art.

And for those who are looking for someone to do work for free…please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you're accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need. Get a clue.

If you agree with the above important information, please pass it along. The more people know, the faster we can correct this problem.

Copy it. Paste it. SHARE it."
  • Listening to: The Bagger288 song.
  • Reading: Wm. Gibson, Spook Country
Fast, Cheap, and Good… pick two.

If it's fast and cheap it wont be good.
If it's cheap and good it won't be fast.
If it's fast and good it wont be cheap.

Fast, cheap and good… pick two.
  • Listening to: Mark Growden
  • Reading: Wm. Gibson, Spook Country
  • Watching: Howe & Howe Tech
So now I can talk about it, as it isn't happening. It was "Dodge & Twist" with Tony Lee. Tony is adapting it into a prose novel instead, as he and the publisher couldn't really get behind any one person to draw it. Which is why the artwork is now here on my DA site.

Also, still working on "Lucky Town", a new post-Steampunk 'thing' which I have posted 2 pages of here. Art Mecha, anyone? And speaking of Steampunk, also chugging away at something for Zuda. "Neverland" is still dithering around in the shallows. "WORK!" ... I need to get on the horse with that.'

In other news, job interviews, yes. Unemployment cheque? Coming to the thin end of the wedge this week. MAYBE I'll get a continuation. Cheerful voice at EDD says I'll find out with MY FINAL CHEQUE. And no, we won't tell you before then.

  • Listening to: Philip Glass, Heroes Symphony
  • Reading: Wm. Gibson, Spook Country
So, in various places online - my Blog, my website, even here, I've made various comments about not doing Spec work. Not submitting to contests, that kind of thing.

Well, in the last couple of weeks I've seen a job offer that requested Spec work turn into a "contest" - which is what Spec work IS, essentially.

For those slow on the curve, Spec is short for Speculative Work - work you do for a potential employer because obviously the work in your portfolio is pointless and not a representation of what you can do. It's a piece of work you do for free, and you may or not get the job.

Some say you have to speculate to accumulate, BUT if you have proven worth, why should you need to speculate?? And why give away your time and effort - not to mention your intellectual property - away for free? Is your art and design THAT worthless? If it was, why should you even be paid for it at the end of the day?

Here's a line I've seen a couple of times:  "By entering, you grant us the right to edit, publish, promote, and otherwise use your entry either as submitted or in edited form without further permission, notice, or compensation". Nice, right?

Well, if I HAVE to produce work to be "in with a chance" then it's going online, on my website and here at DeviantArt. You want to see what I can do? Then look at my godammed portfolio and STFU!

Some resources -

Why Spec Work is bad -…
No! Spec -

Similarly, why Tenders (or Proposals) blow -…

On Twitter-

Spec Watch -
No! Spec -
  • Listening to: Philip Glass, Heroes Symphony
  • Reading: Wm. Gibson, Spook Country
If you can't get enough of me - follow me at Twitter: and Facebook: where I whitter away almost constantly.
Didn't have a crapload of money, so no Burning Man for me. Again.

Did, however answer a Facebook ad for a 4-week singing workshop with Mark Growden:

In return, I agreed to draw a comic book with him. It's based on his lyrics from his new album, Saint Judas. I have a 1-page preview up at my blog -… and information on how to buy a copy.

I missed the Revolting Cocks at the Fillmore on 9/23. No money :(

I  made the 11/02 deadline for Frank Cho's 50Girls50 competition. I thought I was in with a chance but then all the bad-asses dropped their science at the last minute and I didn't even make the top 18. :( It was won by Axel Medellin who has a spot here at DA-

I hit APE in October, briefly. There I met the Lady Cartoonist - and Steam-Crow who do Monster Commute -

I would have hung out more and met tons more lovely people whose work I adore, but I was banging out comics for a project I cannot discuss other than "it has been written", "it has a publisher" and "I might be drawing it if the publisher likes my drawings."

I also have the Neverland project in limbo at "Another Publisher" which if it works out, will be well sweet - there are some preview pages here.

And there's Lucky Town, with Transfuzion. Transfuzion's twin imprint, Desperado has just been absorbed into IDW so I'm having to re-draw about 20 pages just to step up my game - especially if Neverland and the "project I cannot talk about" gets green-lit.

Oh, and not forgetting WORK!, the 300 page anthology/ juggernaut I've been working away at with Eric Palicki and 50 other creators:

There are so many parts to WORK! and Eric and I have been faltering in an appalling fashion lately. Still... We have an awful lot of awesome still packed into that barrel.

11/10, I saw my baby into the World. Well, the comic I drew with Mark Growden. 12 pages in full colour, all on shiny paper just in time for his concert on Friday the 13th at the Cowell. We spent a couple of hours at The Isotope in San Fancisco's Hayes Valley, numbering and signing the 100 limited editions.

This brings us into December...

So, back in July, my [redacted] of a wife left me- abandoned me and the two cats for a life of rampant hedonism. And also a [redacted] 5th floor apartment in the Tenderloin.

In that time I have had exactly 3 job interviews.
Made 1 (full colour) comic.
Produced 20 tunes in Logic.
Designed 4 Skateboards.
Drawn about 80 pages of comics - at least.
Lost 1 competition.
Flatted someone else's artwork. For money.
Sold rare comics. For rent.

Finally, it looks like I might have caught a break. I had an interview on Monday with Dick Blick, and now have my second one on Wednesday...
  • Listening to: Archive
  • Reading: Pattern Recognition
  • Watching: The Cleveland Show
Ooh, looky! Tumbleweeds...

So what's happened to me since getting a shiny new Mac Mini, and my installation woes...? Well, the computer is rock solid. I'm reasonably happy with CS3 once I got the printer woes sorted out - yeah. Fuck you, HP. If you know what happened with Adobe and HP and CS3, you'll know what I mean. They dropped their Epson support for in favour of HP, so the printing ratios got all jacked up when you printed to Epsons. They no longer write Mac code, they just adapt PC crap, so there are a number of little glitches along the way.

But enough about me and how the software people at HP could even program piss-poor bloatware into a VCR...

Lets see. I went to the Oakland Fire-Arts festival, as did Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer - who played an excellent set.

The following week I took off for 5 days in San Diego with Jimmie Robinson and Derek McCulloch. Which is weird as I used to buy Strawberry Jam back in the 80's. And here I was, hanging out at a table with him at SDCC!

Then when I got back, I had a birthday, and the very next day - voom. Off to London for 3 weeks. I wasn't working, my mum needed some shelves put up and the spare room painted. While I was at SDCC, I bumped into Tony Lee who told me about a drink-up I should attend, which neatly coincided with my arrival.

Saw Hanif Kureshi's 'Black Album'. Walked out halfway through, because it was shit. Caught a Polish stilt-walking fiery-industrial version of Macbeth  outside instead. Yay! Metal! Fire! Stilts! Revenge! Murder! Blood!

Got lots of drinking done.
So my Mac Mini, old, dusty PPC G4 with OS-X.4 finally got too slow to live. Opening a 250Mb file in Photoshop was taking 10 or more minutes - there was too much crap in the box.

So I bought a nice, new, dual Intel 2Ghz, CS3 and promptly loaded it up with fresh goodies...

After around a decade, most of my Photoshop filters no longer work.
OS-X.5.7 doesn't come with Stuffit support.

Basically, there's been a major overhaul to 64-bit architecture, and there's a bit of a lag in software support. Get the software, install it. Will it work? I don't know... is there a patch? Maybe... maybe an update? Maybe a PC version? Oh wait, Virtual PC won't work on an Intel Mac... so.. umm...

I'll just do it on my old computer.

At least the Open Source stuff stays current.
  • Watching: Numerous Installers
So the last time I posted here I'd gotten back from London and was updating my website - - it looks freakin' awesome, so, what have I done since?

Been back to London one more time, went to the Birmingham ComicCon, a wedding, a dedication... got sick...

And I've been curating/editing a book - more info here -

It's something, organizing 50+ creators, writers and artists to produce a common theme. I woke up one day and decided to stop chasing and start running.

AND... I've started pencilling something else for something else, and I have some more pics in the pipeline for DeviantArt. So cool.
  • Watching: Really, really bad television.
So the last couple of weeks have been busy... finally updated my website with all the artwork I got from my trip to England. And I have a shitload more to scan and integrate as well.

I posted Part One of 'Soft' on my website, at and my ComicSpace page. It's not quite ready for regular updates yet - the actual launch date is August 1st, so comments and feedback would be awesome.

I'll be flying back to the UK in September - my family will be dedicating a bench and a tree to my step-father and my step-brother gets married the next week. A corner of Kennington Park will be forever ours. Especially if plans for an apiary adjoining the rose-garden where the bench will go proceed - I have a mental image of anyone loafing on the bench being stung to shit by angry bees.

A link for anyone with a sense of humour - Space Hijackers.
  • Listening to: Tim Bearcub Radio Clash Podcast
  • Reading: Um... the screen?
  • Watching: Definitely the screen.
  • Eating: 'za!
I fly back to the States in 10 or so hours. I'll get to see my wife and cat again, my PT Cruiser, my truck, the sunny California weather.

I'll miss the whey-faced pasty English, with their indifferent attitudes and ...wait, I'm one of 'em. Fuck. Trapped, like a rat.

Fair cop, Orrificer.

I wonder if I can stop drinking Coke and Pepsi, knowing how they treat people in the 3rd World, places like Colombia and India, stealing people's water to make Coke, knowing how much water is wasted to make one bottle...
  • Listening to: Sueno Latino
So, I had to leave sunny San Francisco to come home and bury my father. His cancer had kicked his arse in an unexpected manner and the mandibular artery that branches from the jugular through the jaw had basically ruptured. As you can imagine, it was very, very sudden.

He was pretty loaded on morphine, codeine and several other reality-seperating medications.

That image now in your head, I should mention I found a portfolio of old artwork! Yay! And it was... well, some of it was... meh. Okay, actually, for being 10 years old. I usually hate old artwork. I've purged plenty last time I was here visiting.

Portfolio, black bag, go!

Also found a large box of old CDs. Double score!
  • Listening to: Anita Lane
  • Eating: Ben & Jerry's Jamaican Me Crazy