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Re: Reductio Ad Absurdum. It is 1984 Dinosaur Time..!


I assume that I'm the kind of person you're deriding: I'm young (well,
young-ish at 26), sort-of new to the palaeoart scene and regularly
undertake commissions for little or no money when requested. I do this
because I'm often asked by friends or colleagues to do the work as a
favour and I'm always happy to help people out as much as I
realistically can. Moreover, such commissions can (and has on several
occasions now) lead to actual, well-paid work; may generate income from
subsequent payment from use in other media and I am consistently
flattered when for people to ask me to do high-profile work for them and
have my work associated with exciting science. I would not have had
these opportunities if I had not given my time freely or cheaply to
numerous people several years ago for my first commissions. Note that I
enjoy drawing my images, too: who would turn down the opportunity to
turn their hobby into something more substantial? 

I'm sure I'm not alone in undertaking work for the above reasons. I ask
for as much money as I can on such work and, if the project asks too
much of my time without subsequent reimbursement, I will turn it down.
However, for small paintings and whatnot, I'm happy to devote my free
for the reasons outlined above. Thing is, I am well-aware that I cannot
support myself on this work alone and earn my living (which I assure you
is not in my parent's basement) through other means. I'm clearly not the
only palaeoartist of this type, either: a whole heap of well-known
palaeoartist offer other types of illustration and occupations (often
fantasy work, natural history artwork, concept art for games and films,
web design etc.: see Luis Rey, David Krentz, John Sibbick, John Conway,
David Peters, Todd Marshall and others for examples): palaeoart is only
one string to their bow. The harsh reality may be that it may be almost
impossible to eek out an existence on palaeoart alone in modern times -
even if you are one of the best in the business - and live comparably
well, much less support a family. It is an extremely dedicated,
specialised branch of art, after all, so there isn't a massive amount of
work to spread among even the handful of artists already out there. As
the internet reveals more and more upcoming talent (there's some amazing
stuff online done by so-called 'amateurs' that puts some professional
work to shame), this work is going to be spread even more thinly. I
don't think you can start telling other artists how to do their work
simply because it takes work away from people like yourself: it's a very
unrealistic expectation and liable, in my view, to fall on deaf ears. 



Dr. Mark Witton

Palaeobiology Research Group
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth
Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road

Tel: (44)2392 842418
E-mail: Mark.Witton@port.ac.uk

If pterosaurs are your thing, be sure to check out:

- Pterosaur.Net: www.pterosaur.net
- The Pterosaur.Net blog: http://pterosaur-net.blogspot.com/
- My pterosaur artwork: www.flickr.com/photos/markwitton 

>>> Bob Tess <bobtess@dinoart.com> 15/03/2011 15:49 >>>
Actually Mike, when I first entered the field I did NOT have to work  
so hard to keep a roof over my head.
I was young so  could take my chances without health insurance which  
now costs us $12,000 per year.
Energy costs were only a fraction of what they are now.
We have to take care of an elderly parent.
We couldn't live on burger flipper wages if we wanted to.
This work takes a certain number of hours to do the research and  
execute the paintings, and it takes a certain amount of money to live 

in America.
The problem is that paleoart doesn't pay that well even when you are  
Is Greg living in a mansion?  no.
Tess and I do the best possible work we can and we are considered by  
many to be at the top of our profession and we still barely get by  
Are you asking those of us who have devoted ourselves to the field to 

just bow out and go away so the purchasers of dinosaur art can get  
the work cheaper?
Can you wonder why we take it personally?
There is much less work to go around in paleoart than there is in  
computer programming so that comparison is a bit skewed..
This has gotten mean now.
I'm in a bad mood. Maybe I should back away from the keyboard
You're fucking with people's livlihoods.

On Mar 15, 2011, at 11:12 AM, Mike Taylor wrote:

> On 15 March 2011 14:56, Bob Tess <bobtess@dinoart.com> wrote:
>> How will they make a living by undercutting prices?
>> Do they think they can have a mortgage by going cheap?
>> No, all they can do is ruin the field and live in their parents'  
>> basement
>> the rest of their lives.
> Really, Bob?  Really?  When you first entered the field, did you
> charge then what you charge now?  Before you had a reputation and a
> portfolio to lean on?  When you didn't have such heavy financial
> responsibilities as you do now?  Or did you start at the bottom,
> charging lower fees to get your early work, and then escalating as
> publicly earned the right to?
> When I started my own professional life (as a computer programmer),
> didn't apply for jobs that pay what I am earning now; in fact, in my
> first full-time professional job, I was paid less than a quarter of
> what I earn now (and I couldn't afford a mortgage on that -- I had
> rent a room to live in.)  Over time, as my experience and expertise
> increased, I was able to apply successfully for more prestigious and
> lucrative jobs (and eventually to get that mortgage, support a
> etc.)  Happily, it turns out that I didn't "ruin the field" along
> way.
> Isn't that how it works in every profession?
> In insisting that people starting out in palaeoart not undercut your
> prices, you and Greg are trying to effectively make it that there
> no entry-level jobs in palaeoart, and consequently no way for
> newcomers to the field to get a foot on the ladder.  To speak
> whatever your and Greg's actual intention, this comes across as a
> self-serving attempt to erect a barrier to entry into the field, and
> to keep all the work for a small number of Boys' Club members.  I
> and trust that I am misreading your intentions, but that's how it
> LOOKS, and if I see it that way then you can bet that lots of the
> up-and-coming palaeoartists will see it the same way.
> And whether you intend it or not, a mandatory minimum price would
> certainly have a chilling effect on newcomers to the field of
> palaeoart.  I don't think that's something that we as a community
> in good conscience, support.
> Competition for work in the field of palaeoart is by reputation,
> quality and price.  You, Greg and other established names have a
> advantage in the first of these (and, if we take Greg's claims at
> value, in the second, too).  You can't just legislate that the third
> isn't to be a factor.  When I apply for programming work, I have to
> compete on quality against less experienced candidates who charge
> than I do.  Why shouldn't it be the same in palaeoart?
> -- Mike.
>> On Mar 15, 2011, at 10:49 AM, Mike Taylor wrote:
>>> On 15 March 2011 14:41, Bob Tess <bobtess@dinoart.com> wrote:
>>>> I have become sickened by this thread.  I can think of no other
>>>> profession
>>>> besides art where people feel justified in telling other people  
>>>> they
>>>> should
>>>> not be allowed to make a living.
>>> I assume you're referring here to Greg's telling young artists
>>> they're not allowed to establish themselves in the profession by
>>> charging less than him?