Updates, set dressing for Maniacs and shut up you

If you are one of the 3 people who follows this blog, I thought I would drop in and give you an update.

I’ve got a few commissions on the ‘to do’ list right now, which is good because we always need a cash infusion. Some are for Goodman Games DCC RPG adventures, some are for Barrowmaze 2 (I don’t know when that is coming out, but yours truly did the cover and some monster illustrations so far; more to come)… and there are some others. Plus I am still doing the ‘drawing a day’ notebook (sample from earlier in the year at right — some are better than this, many more are pretty uninspired).

Because the non-profit I was working for has had some funding difficulties, I have had to go back on the job market, and that is eating up a lot of my time and energy. I’ve got some feelers out and have been trying to network; I’m looking for a production/creative position in Detroit Metro; I have photoshop and Indesign and Creative Suite skills plus a pack of good references, but I have never been the best self-promoter and I suck at networking plus no one seems to be hiring so doing the job market thing is an uphill battle.

I was watching the 1980 movie, Maniac, the other night. After feeling beaten down by the job hunt, there is nothing like watching a movie about a fat, pockmarked guy who lives a Norman-Bates life in a tiny, shitty apartment and who goes out at night and kills women and scalps them to help cheer you up. In the killer’s apartment, in addition to all the mannikins adorned with women’s scalps (it’s like Neverland Ranch in there), there is an abstract drawing on one wall that looks really cool and I was trying to figure out where it was from and how I could get a better look at it. I was pausing the video but resolution was low and it was slightly out of focus — it looked like a drawing of polyps and entrails in the style of this fucked up Alberto Giacometti sculpture that I like, but in 2d and in color — like something that someone drew when they were on acid and then their mom threw it out and someone from the movie found it and said, “This looks suitably creepy; let’s hang it in the maniac’s apartment.” I was hoping to find a still from the movie where you can see it and post it to the web and (hopefully) get an ID from someone who knows these things, but no luck so far. Who knows? It might have been something that the setdresser picked up in a flea market (I met someone who does set dressing for films, video and photo shoots, and she said that in the 1980s she could get unbelievably great stuff at mid-western thrift markets; she used to fly in from NYC and they would just buy shit and ship it back to NYC for prop use… since ebay, though, her ‘golden days’ of thrifting are over). What the artwork was and where it came from will probably remain an intriguing mystery. I think in the still of the film posted here of the Maniac looking at the newspaper, the drawing in question would be above the bookshelf with the dolls on it behind him.

That is all. Now I have to shut up and get back to work.

Current Projects — treading water

The ‘Exquisite Corpses’ book is still in production, but I have hit some creative blocks / snags on my end so things are not progressing as fast as I would like. A proposed and half finished cover image is at right (this was supposed to be a wrap around with the dungeon wall on the back cover serving as a background for text and the adventurers and monsters on the front cover). Since starting the painting at right, I’ve gotten what I think is a better idea for a cover image… so this one has been mothballed at this point.

I’ve had a few private commissions I’ve been working on, including some fantasy/rpg pieces which will hopefully see the light sometime in the near future. One set of paintings I did at the end of the year last year still haven’t been published, so I am waiting before I can display those… but I wish they would hurry up and publish so I can show off the paintings… I was pretty happy with how they came out. Hopefully I’ll eventually get to show them off in my illustration portfolio (www.stefanpoag.com).

I’m also working on a BIG mosaic floor that is supposed to be installed sometime this month(www.stefanpoagmosaics.com)… which is coming along great but needs a lot of work. It’s about 6’3″ square (it was originally 6′ square but an error by the builder added 3 inches — ouch!) and features images of bees, colorful honeycombs/hexagons, etc. I post pics later when I get it in a more presentable state.

Finally, I’ve been recruited to do all sorts of home improvement projects, including a large vegetable garden with an 8′ high wire fence to keep the deer from eating all the plants. The fence is up — although it needs more posts… the sheer weight of all of that wire fence is causing the fenceposts to sag a bit. That surprised me — the posts are weather treated wood that are about 4×4 thick…. but this is my first ‘Stalag 13’ style fence so later this summer I’ll be planting more posts (sigh) and now I have to come up with an irrigation system that won’t make the vegetables cost too much due to the huge amounts of water we will need.

So I’ve been busy. Happy Saturday. Gotta go get to work!

Revisiting Art for the OSR and Pricing

OK, so if you have been following the blog you know that I’ve been having trouble getting paid by a few OSR type clients (there are 2 with outstanding balances owed me; other than sending them messages with requests for payment, I don’t know what else to do). In addition, there is the matter of the ‘ape head’ illustration where I let frustration get the best of me and managed to screw a bad deal even further from my end.

Going forward, I obviously need to do things differently and have received both public and private responses and suggestions. Based on that, I’m looking at:

  1. An overall rate increase.
  2. Require a deposit before I start work.
  3. Require a signed agreement before I start work.
  4. High rez scans delivered only after final payment is rendered… up until then, the client gets 72 dpi jpegs for placement/approval.
  5. Include a “change order” request process in the contract.
  6. Avoid the “noob” publishers who may (or may not)have good intentions but have unrealistic or unclear expectations.

The hardest part of this is the ‘rate’ concept. I have no idea what is reasonable or fair. The conventional formula seems to consider type of usage (one time use vs. more rights) plus time/complication multiplied by usage itself (i.e.: I understand some illustrators and photographers may charge a lesser price to a magazine with a smaller distribution).

As far as the deposit goes, I’m thinking of asking for 1/2 up front and the other half within 30 days of delivery (when I did photography I tried to get paid within 30 days, even offering discounts if people would pay me before the first 30 days were up and threatening to charge more for invoices that went past 90 days— no one ever paid me early and the late clients who were billed extra for delinquent payments never paid the penalty (in fact, some of them never paid their bills at all)).

I’ve done some hunting and haven’t been able to find how much other artists charge for artwork — any good suggestions for finding price info out there?