32 Comments

  1. 9/6/2011
    Reply

    I think if an artist is trying to keep his prices low (or does it for free) so that fans of their work can obtain something for their personal collection, that a flipper in the line deliberately present to exploit this generosity because they know they price is lower than market value is generally ruining it for those fans who can’t afford to pay market value because the artist, feeling exploited for what they see as a kindness to the community generally reacts by (a) raising their price to market levels to make flipping unprofitable but in turn, pricing their work out of the hands of the average fan or (b) they stop doing them altogether because they don’t have the time or energy to come up with a good solution. It’s always heart-warming to see people building resentment within our small community. On the other hand, with priced original artwork or pre-done commissions I completely agree with your assessment about pricing. I believe this is why Darwyn generally brings only original art and pre-done commissions to shows and does nothing more than the occasional head sketch in a book for fans. He sets the price on the originals in line with what he believes to be fair market value for his artwork and in cooperation with his art rep.

  2. Stanley Jon
    9/6/2011
    Reply

    I do not know the art reselling market at all.  Do sketches that are personalize sell less than “market value?”  I probably would not buy a sketch that has “To Anthony, who is my biggest and best ever fan!!! xoxo” written on it.

    • This seems to be the way a lot of artists are going but I don’t like it.  I’m entering into an agreement to purchase a sketch for money.  If the artist takes it upon himself to personalize the sketch without asking they’ve changed the terms of our agreement.

      I now specifically ask that they do not personalize my sketch.  I’m not reselling them but if I’m paying $100 plus for a sketch then I would like the future option of selling it if need be. 

  3. 9/6/2011
    Reply

    lol… nevertheless, look carefully at those eBay auctions…

  4. 9/6/2011
    Reply

    I think you’ll find most are forgiving if you need the money and have to sell the commission. I think their main beefs are with the people who are at shows specifically to get pieces to flip on eBay.

    • But is the anger because the flipper didn’t state that the item was for resale upon purchase or is their anger because the artist could have gotten more for the piece? 

  5. 9/6/2011
    Reply

    Lying builds resentment. Did I not say before that many artists keep their show sketches affordable for the fans that come to see them. It erodes trust – feedback I get is it isn’t always about making money, if it was they would have priced aggressively or just sold pieces on feebay to start.

    • Where is the lying? I’ve never been asked “is this sketch for resale?”.

      What do you consider affordable? At Fan Expo I was seeing about $100 for a headshot and $300-$600 for full body.

      • 9/6/2011
        Reply

        I found most people have settled into that price range. I don’t consider that affordable pricing, personally, which is why I don’t commission OA. That’s proactive pricing – they are looking to get close to market value. At one point certain artists who appeared at FanExpo this year used to sketch for their fans for free at these events — like Dale Keown, Stuart Immonen, Francis Manapul and Ty Templeton (Ty, I believe still sketches for free – Dale and Francis charge, while Stuart no longer sketches and wrote a book about why he doesn’t do it). The lying is when someone represents his or herself as a fan and tells the artist it’s for their personal collection or that they are there to get a sketch for, say, his child because they reportedly love that artist’s work. I can think of two specific people at FanExpo that misrepresent themselves on occasion when talking to artists as being fans but whose primary goal is to obtain sketches to flip.

  6. 9/6/2011
    Reply

    Some creators are actually singling out the known flippers and charging them more accordingly, but the flippers counter that by sending surrogates at the next event. There’s no easy solution.

  7. Charlie
    9/6/2011
    Reply

    I’m sympathetic to both sides. Just because a fan flips a work of art, it’s doesn’t necessarily mean they are evil. Wether you buy food at the grocery store, at a restaurant… or clothes, there’s always a middle man (like Walmart) to profit from the difference. Commerce is commerce. People like to bash Walmart because they are successful, which they are, but Walmart does just as much good as it does harm (depending on your politics, of course).
     
    So if some guy decides to deal in comics and comic art as business to feed his family or support his coke habit… is it any more wrong then Walmart. Perhaps, especially if they don’t identify themselves as a dealer. At most trade shows, you need a registered business to attend and they all wear badges that say “buyer” or “seller”… but comic cons are not commercial trade shows and how do you define the occasional hobbyist “flipper” vs the hardcore reseller?
     
    Is the issue one of artistic integrity? Canadian artists like Tony Onley and Michael Snow have battled with large enterprise and government bodies in order to maintain some rights to their work… even after a sale… on the grounds that their work is a representation of the artist. But, commercial art is not fine art… or is it? Guys like Tony Onley and Michael snow need to eat so they take on commissions just like Darywn Cooke… and do quite well I might add.
     
    The real issue here is comes down to exploitation. Wherever money is to be made there will always be people trying to take advantage of a given situation. If you can solve this one… you’ve basically solved most world problems like famine, slave labour, trafficking… etc. But hey, look what’s on TV… Kim Kardashian’s getting married…
     
    Great topic Anthony!
     
     

  8. 9/6/2011
    Reply

    Posted on Facebook today by Adi Granov:  “I’m going to join the ranks of many other comic book artists and not do free sketches at cons ever again, except for the people I actually know and trust. If people who get them for free can make £500 from them, and do, I would be a total idiot to keep supplying them with income without any benefit in return. It was good while it lasted folks. Actually, I will do free sketches, but they will be 2 min marker sketches, no more 20min painting for free. ”

    • 9/6/2011
      Reply

      Charlie, in the above case I would consider a “flipper” the person who stood in line to receive a free sketch from the artist and then took it home, scanned it, and sold it on eBay (or CAF, et al.) for a profit.

      • Charlie
        9/6/2011
        Reply

        That was actually rhetorical question… But, unless the buyer is being grossly deceitful or offensive, who are we to judge? Could there ever be extenuating circumstances that could justify a buyer ever selling a purchase without judgement?
         
        People lie and cheat all the time. I’m not saying this is right but how is re-selling something you bought any more wrong than all the other wrongs that we commit daily? Can we at least separate lying and cheating from the actual act of selling? Selling in itself is neither good nor evil, agreed?
         
        Also, are you suggesting that some creators care soooo much about their fans that they are refraining from doing sketches for the good of… uh, their fans, the industry? Personally, I see it as an act of protest motivated by self preservation. Is this not a selfish act, since it solves nothing and protects only the creator, which they are entitled to do… but again it seems kind of selfish.
         
        Here’s my suggestion at a resolution: Tolerance.
         
        It may sound biblical and it’s not a Nobel prize winning solution but it’s the best I can come up with. And since I’m the only one here proposing an actual solution that can be applied globally, I think it’s worth a weekend pass to FanExpo 2012.

          • 9/6/2011
            Reply

            My solution is the same that all artists eventually seem to reach. Charge market value for your sketches and commissions so that you don’t worry about what people do with them after they get them (and if they get more than what they paid for it adjust accordingly), and if you are – for whatever reasons – motivated to give something away for free, make it clear to the receiver that it’s a gift and then endorse the hell out of it and if, after that, the person decides to liquid paper their name off of  in order to sell it on eBay or whereever you can call them on it. If they retaliate with copies of cancer treatment bills then or grandma’s funeral costs then you issue an apology and offer to do another to help with the fundraising…. 

  9. Charie
    9/7/2011
    Reply

    I’m actually disappointed to read your response Kev. Your in it too deep that you no longer see the forest for the trees or you’re joking for the sake of making a point. You speak as if industry creatives are saints and the fans are leeches. I’ve met and known my share of creatives and believe me, they are no saints. They have the same desires and weaknesses as we do. States of jealousy, envy and ego are actually amplified, in part due to people like you who over value them and treat them as celebrities.
     
    My message to the creatives out there is to stay focused on your work. Hone your craft, network, and most of all… keep moving. Don’t get involved in petty industry politics… your energy is better spent else where. If you wanna do sketches, fine. If not, fine as well. At least if your sketch ends up on eBay, hopefully it’ll be picked up by someone who truly will value it. Who cares if some Joe Schmuck makes a few bucks… There’s no way to govern it so be tolerant and just keep moving.

    • 9/7/2011
      Reply

      In the scenario of flipping sketches and commissions, I can’t see the “other side” as there is only one leech in the equation. My advice to creatives (whether I like them personally or not is irrelevant)  remains the same as stated previously. In our community of entitlement, those that feign false interest for the exclusive purpose of a quick turnaround are not worthy of the effort of woodland scrutiny.

      • Charlie
        9/7/2011
        Reply

        I don’t think anyone here disputes false interest as being deceptive. Lying and cheating are universally understood as being bad. But I don’t understand how you can frown upon re-selling? What if I received a sketch and I was simply…
         
        • not happy with the result
        • tastes change and after a period I was no long enamoured with piece or the artist
        • I received an incredible offer that I just couldn’t refuse
        • financial circumstance change so suddenly I may need some cash
        • what if I made a purchase or was given a piece of work by a third party
         
        Trade is the lifeblood of our economy. We all benefit from it. By your logic, we would all end up becoming hoarders. Should I be chastised by Honda loyalist if and when I decide to sell my mini van?
         
        I would think someone in you position, as leader in the community, as an educated person who is familiar with social, economic and political issues surrounding the value of art and commerce would take a more objective position. I mean, does CGC not take a cut off of high value books? Did FanExpo not charge more on Sat versus Thurs for the same act of entering through a set of doors? Does FanExpo not profit from creatives and the interest generated by their ideas?
         
        Lets not forget about the creatives themselves… some of who charge exorbitant amounts just because they see Travis Charest at the next table charging thousands of dollars for his comic pages. What about others who crank out colour copies of their work and pass it off as a limited edition “print”. They even sign and number it as if added value. Robert Bateman was hammered by the art community for cranking out posters of his work and selling them as a limited print. He made millions while the market tanked. And his fans, who believed the hype lost money.
         
        Take the lying and cheating out of the equation and “leeching” is nothing more than commercialism. You’re in a position to educate people about the issues and the considerations that determine value so they can make their own judgement but instead you’re choosing to be a cheerleader. Where is the insight Kev, the objective analysis?

        I feel like Nomad on that episode of Star Trek… “Does not compute!” 

        • 9/7/2011
          Reply

          I am essentially discussing short term scenarios concerning those that get free sketches SPECIFICALLY to flip down the line. As I mentioned before in this very thread, I don’t think anyone really cares if you decide to part with something you’ve had long term because you are in financial distress. However, if you receive something for nothing – a free sketch from the artist (who should endorse it anyway to make it personal) – to turn around and publicly sell it for a profit is ridiculous and in bad taste. I’m not saying this applies to art bought and paid for such as Scott discusses below. If I buy a page or a pre-done piece for a set price, that’s mine to resell if I so choose.

        • 9/7/2011
          Reply

          I would think someone in you position, as leader in the community, as an educated person who is familiar with social, economic and political issues surrounding the value of art and commerce would take a more objective position. I mean, does CGC not take a cut off of high value books? Did FanExpo not charge more on Sat versus Thurs for the same act of entering through a set of doors? Does FanExpo not profit from creatives and the interest generated by their ideas?
          CGC has set advertised rates for a service they provide. Some of those rates are percentages based on the value of the book being graded. It’s an upfront cost. CGC doesn’t come after you if you sell it for more. CGC is a service where it is assumed that you are using that service because you are planning to sell your book at some point.
          For exhibitors, FanExpo sells space. Comic book creators get a set amount of free space if they choose to attend, which they can use to make money at the event. Everyone else (dealers, other creators, publishers, companies) pay for their space at FanExpo. There are a set number of featured guests that FanExpo will pay to bring to the event as “draw” guests. In return for attending FanExpo works out private arrangements for compensation. The obligation to the event is to do some signings for attendees in the signing area on the days they attend and to participate in some minimal amount of programming. The rest of their time is their own, where they can choose to exhibit or if they want, they can sign at their publisher’s booth or appear on programming events organized by their publisher. I think it’s pretty clearly spelled out to everyone attending as a guest as to what we are offering, and we don’t force anyone to be a guest. If they can’t attend or feel they are being exploited I think we would want to know about that so as to prevent any hard feelings.
          Attendees pay a set daily fee or weekend rate for access to the event. Thursday was lower to encourage attendance, Saturday is higher to be slightly discouraging and encourage people to consider other days to attend.   

        • 9/7/2011
          Reply

          Take the lying and cheating out of the equation and “leeching” is nothing more than commercialism. You’re in a position to educate people about the issues and the considerations that determine value so they can make their own judgement but instead you’re choosing to be a cheerleader. Where is the insight Kev, the objective analysis?

          It is my objective position that it is unethical and bad business for someone to enter into an artist’s line where said artist is doing sketches for attendees with the mindset that the sketch received is to be immediately made available for sale at a higher price for a profit.
          My opinion is that anyone who plans to do this should identify their motives up front when it is their “turn” and offer to compensate the artist if the artist feels that extra compensation is warranted, or they have the right to refuse service and not do the sketch.
          In my position as a so-called industry leader, I tell  artists that they should not do free or low cost sketches for people if they are concerned about the people they are doing them for turning around and reselling them for a profit, because it is inevitable that someone will do just that and they’ll end up disappointed and disillusioned. An option is to endorse free or low cost sketches and charge a higher price for something that isn’t endorsed.

  10. Buying sketches has evolved along the classic economic line of supply and demand, with sellers getting what the market will pay.

    It’s important to note we’re talking about sketches here and not commissions.  A sketch is a quick (5-30 minute) drawing done by an artist either at their table or their hotel after the show ends.  Let’s say sketches take 30 minutes and the artist does ten a day, so for Fan Expo they would have completed fourty sketches.  What is 30 minutes of the artist’s time worth?

    Tim Sale charges $100 for a sketch and he’s on a clock for five minutes to get it completed.  He’s a fast artist and I was happy with my sketch but is Tim Sale’s time worth $1200 an hour?  People line up for him so I guess it is.

    When I started collecting sketches about seven years ago people were charging roughly $20 for a torso or full figure sketch.  This was the beginning of the internet resell and things quickly climbed. Artists who have almost no published work are charging $65 and up.  Good artists are getting it while others sit alone at their tables.  

    My first Paradise Con Darwyn Cooke was giving free sketches, the next year they were $100.  He tried to be friendly and wanted to support the fans but saw they were being flipped so he started charging.  The last sketch I got from him was $250 about three years ago.  As Kevin said he only brings completed pieces now: at TCAF they were about $400. 

    After leaving Fan Expo this year I decided for myself to only buy commissions or completed art from artists.  Contact them ahead of time and arrange for something or flip through their material at the show and buy something you enjoy.  Why bother rushing to complete sketches at a show when the artist can do a bunch of drawings at their leisure beforehand?

    Artists should charge what they can get, plain and simple.  Anyone who pays what the artist wants can get do with it whatever they want.  Both parties are happy. 

    • Charlie
      9/7/2011
      Reply

      Scott, I think that is the practical answer and that’s probably how it will be. At the end of the day, it comes down to what the market will bear.

  11. Charlie
    9/7/2011
    Reply

    Commercialism:
    Exactly my point Kev… everyone has an interest, usually involving money… which is why I have a hard time understanding how you can singling out one type of con attendee.
     
    >>It is my objective position that it is unethical and bad business for someone to enter into an artist’s line where said artist is doing sketches for attendees with the mindset that the sketch received is to be immediately made available for sale at a higher price for a profit.<<
     
    This is not “objective”. It’s judgemental or theoretical at best because you can’t identify the intent of the people in a line up. As well, the intents can change at anytime. I love Darwyne Cookes work, but if I waited all day and he handed me a sketch that didn’t appeal to me… I would be gracious and thank him but I may not want to keep it. However, someone else might appreciate it more. So I may decide to sell it, give it away, toss it or change my mind and have it framed. In any case, I should be allowed to exercise those options without having to feel guilty about it, especially if it was a purchase. What am I supposed to do? Say to Darwyne…”Hey man, this is crap so I’m gonna flip it on eBay… do you want a cut?” Even if I graciously refused his drawing, it would be insulting… “Excuse me Mr. Darwyn sir, you are awesome but I don’t like what you did for me… can I have my $200 bucks back?”
     
    I think you are talking about the chronic flipper or the opportunist but again, unless they’ve got a stamp on their forehead that says “I flip for cash”… how do you weed these guys out? And these types of people can often be found on the other side of the table as well… like those colour copy pushers. or those dudes who are selling pre press make readies from their 80’s glory days.

    Kev, I’m tired. You’ve worn me out. Good debate my friend. Let’s move on to the next topic… I’ve got books to pick up at US cover price less 20%.

    ^_^ 

    • 9/8/2011
      Reply

      As usual, you concentrate on the first point – the unrealistic scenario (flippers self-identifying) and ignore the simple solution, so here it is again: they should not do free or low cost sketches for people if they are concerned about the people they are doing them for turning around and reselling them for a profit, because it is inevitable that someone will do just that and they’ll end up disappointed and disillusioned. An option is to endorse free or low cost sketches and charge a higher price for something that isn’t endorsed. In your Darwyn Cooke scenario — if Darwyn GAVE you a free sketch you didn’t like, it’s improper to try to flip a free gift – give it to a friend who might appreciate it more or trade it for some comics or something else. However, if you had BOUGHT a commission from Darwyn and you didn’t like it, I’m sure he would GIVE you your money back (because Dar’s a stand-up guy), and if you had PAID his premium price for it he wouldn’t care if you decided to sell it.

  12. 9/8/2011
    Reply

    I’m saddened by all this. First as someone who collects sketches. I’ve always got them done in a sketch book, one after the other, never removed, sold or what have you. I’m asking the artist for a personal piece, a gift, even a paid for gift. I rarely state the subject matter, preferring the artist to do something that’s significant to them. (And yes, my newest book ran afoul of the dreaded Jar-Jar when I left it open for Ramon Perez, but frankly it’s a great Jar-Jar and led to a multi-page running gag.)
    On the other side, I enjoy doing sketches, especially drawing the fans themselves. At Fan Expo we had a sketch jar and were asking people to tip/donate for a sketch.  

    • Charlie
      9/8/2011
      Reply

      It’s very sad. What concerns me is that by taking a reactionary or a retaliatory approach, you’re essentially declaring war against the “flippers”. Nothing good can come from a war where the only real casualties will be the fans.
       
      To give the “flippers” so much influence seems wrong to me. And it disappoints me that Kevin, as an event coordinator who has is in contact with all those talented people, would support the idea of higher pricing as a form of protectionism.
       
      Comics gave me direction and a deep relationship with art. If creators like Darwyne would be willing to make his work more accessible, I have no doubt that it would inspire others.

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