Why I am a ‘stuck up artist’

There seems to be an ongoing conversation in the blog-o-sphere regarding art and artists getting published so I thought I might throw my 2 cents in. Over on LotFP, Raggi wrote about what he wanted and his philosophy behind how he “art directed” (which seemed basically valid to me, with a few caveats), and how it differed from the views of Zak Smith of Pornstars fame — both raise good points (and go read them for yourself).

However, in the comments of Raggi’s post, in regard to some artist getting his/her dander up and quitting, someone named Chris said, I am surprised they found enough paid work elsewhere that didn’t step on their ego.

I don’t know the artists in question or the circumstances surrounding their decision to work or not work on a given project, nor do I know what Chris was referencing, but the out-of-context remark made me remember the often repeated story of the “tempermental artist” and the general belief that artists are irresponsible, emotional and generally hard for “normal people” to work with. I really feel I have to step up and support anyone’s decision to refuse to do whatever work for whatever reason. Unless the levee is breaking and I’m needed to help sandbag or lives will be lost, I don’t think I should feel any moral imperative to work on someone else’s project — even if they are offering to ‘pay me.’ (I might be a whore, but if I don’t like the way you are waving that twenty around, I reserve the right not to blow you.)

Unfortunately, as an artist/illustrator/photographer, I have encountered people who had an exagerated sense of entitlement to my work, and, since my work is important to me, I’ve sometimes felt the need to terminate the relationship… which had led to accusations of bad faith or excessive ego on my part. Many years ago (1987 or 1988?) I did some drawings and graphic work for a band (I was actually in the band at one point, but that’s another story). The ‘band’ went from being a cooperative venture to Ggreg’s personal ego trip, and, after he treated me and everyone else who had been a friend and collaborator like shit and he had gone from treating it as “our band” to “Ggreg’s band,” I began to resent that he was still using material I had come up with in his shows after he had engineered my departure and still using my artwork and graphics to promote his band even though he had told me that I was a worthless human being and he didn’t need me anymore. Every time I saw a sticker or flyer with the band name on it and the “mutant” logo I had invented, it was like a slap in the face. And the guy who acted like a shit heel became such an ego maniac that if even if I had an opportunity to negotiate with him over the use of my lyrics or my artwork, I would have said “no.” Why? Because I wouldn’t want my creative work to be of any benefit to someone like Ggreg who treated his friends the way he did. If people saw the logo and knew that I drew it, I wouldn’t want them to think that I supported the band or Ggreg anymore — after I had been shown his true colors I didn’t want anything to do with the guy. In some ways I have to admire him — he has real charisma and was able to make me overlook some of his behavior for a long time because – gosh, darn it – I really wanted him to like me. But that shit wore off after a while…

Like I said, I can’t speak for anyone else. I don’t think I have a big ego, but in life I have encountered people who are ego-trippers, friend-fucker-overs or don’t treat others well… and, after several such failed associations, I find I don’t want to work with such people or allow my meager talents to be used to their benefit. If I could have pulled the plug on Ggreg’s “Misery Index” stuff after our relationship went south, I would have… only because I didn’t want anything I had done to be associated with that guy after he treated me the way he did and after I saw how he treated some of our mutual friends.

Then there are also some people who just don’t know what they want — and the combined sweat and tears of trying to satisfy them drain whatever satisfaction I might have gotten out of the project — there have been cases where I have pulled the plug on projects simply because I ran out of patience with the project or the way in which it was being conducted. I guess if that makes me an ego maniac or a tempermental artist, then so be it.

Happy New Year.

2 Comments on “Why I am a ‘stuck up artist’”

  1. JimLotFP says:

    >>The thing that irks me about Raggi's attitude is that claims to be an “art director” and knows best.

    What's the alternative? One thing that is totally escaping me in this conversation is how I'm to get the right look and feel if I take a hands-off approach.

    More than anything else in this whole publishing thing, dealing with artists is the big thing that I'm still largely in the dark about.

  2. JDJarvis says:

    99% of anything I ever drew was for someone else. I didn't draw what I wanted to draw I drew what the customer needed me to draw and there-in lies the trick, getting the customer to identify what they actually need instead of what they imagine they want but are incapable of communicating in a clear and efficient fashion. Customers that respect the process and understand a good image actually takes time (along with talent and communication)to prepare can get what they need, a customer that rushes and changes endlessly just isn't going to get what they want or need.

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