TOPIC: Spec art: pros and cons?
Spec art is marginally acceptable, and only in special cases:
for a beginning artist, to build a portfolio
character sketches requested from a publisher (never finished art)
Clients will judge your worth by what you charge; clients who get work for nothing don't appreciate the value, and are never satisfied
Licensing is a different case: works differently from publishing in that the product is created first, then sold--so spec work may be the norm.
Red flags to look for when approached by client: "good exposure" and "potentially lucrative"
Crowd-sourcing: a unanimous "no"
Contests in general must be scrutinized carefully; only respond to trusted organizers, such as HOW and Print
WFH: not always bad. Educational publishers work this way; also, art for book covers is usually WFH; there's a difference between WFH and flat fee (artist may not retain copyright under a WFH contract)
Stock illustrations: may or may not offer royalty
Pro bono work is a plus--but be careful of assuming all nonprofits make good clients.
Causes with a good track record for illustrators:
The Totoro Forest Project
Alternatives to spec work for artists just starting out:
Personal web site
Holly DeWolf's Breaking into Freelance Illustration
Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
Comment about PEG: fees listed are slightly higher than the average illustrator can command--perhaps because only most successful artists are willing to share fee history
Tweet(s) of the night:
This topic brought out the the pithy:
@vvjonez: If I don't want to get paid, I might as well work on my own stuff.
and the funny:
@WendyMartinArt: You can die from exposure.
@DiandraMae: I always feel like they're offering a flesh-eating virus to me when they say "you'll get great exposure!"
@WendyMartinArt: In fact, if I expose too much I can be arrested.
@NVCrittenden: Spec art is only okay when your client is an optometrist!
Full transcript below: