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Re: Clarification of scope of paleoart market and other items



"And someone was giving us paleoartists wise and sage advice about how 
perhaps we should understand that because there is so much competition
(much of 
which is derivative) that we should accept it being mere part time work
that 
we do on the side. Aside from making us into mere amateurs, if I did
that 
then I could not have produced all those nice skeletal restorations so
many 
seem to really like (and in some cases use for their paleoart that then

competes with mines).

Think about. Really, think it through." 

Greg, there is no question that people like palaeoart and skeletal
reconstructions. Whether their production provides a suitable income for
a sustained, comfortable lifestyle in the modern day is another matter
entirely. The fact that so many famous palaeoartists, many of whom
produce work of the highest quality, are also artists of other subjects
suggests that a career dedicated to palaeoart is not sustainable in the
long run. Indeed, the one very clear signal from these discussions is
that such a lifestyle can only be sustained if your living costs are
very low: making ends meet as a dedicated palaeoartist is very difficult
from the moment we aspire to a reasonable quality of life. And there's
nothing wrong, incidentally, with being a so-called 'amateur': this
label is not particularly telling of anyone's ability at all. Some
'amateur' palaeontologists and palaeoartists have and continue to make
excellent contributions to palaeontological science and communication
comparable with those made by 'professionals'. 

Mark 

--

Dr. Mark Witton

Palaeobiology Research Group
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth
Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road
Portsmouth
PO1 3QL

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 

>>> <GSP1954@aol.com> 15/03/2011 19:58 >>>
An unfortunate problem with these discussions is that persons who just
do 
not know about the issue seem to be obsessed with making arguments that
are 
so disconnected from reality that they are from a galaxy far, far away.
This 
has been happening with some really silly notions on what and how 
paleoartists can earn. This is bad because then those in paleontology
may have a major 
misimpression of what is going on with the paleoartists they often work

with. 

Some fellow actually suggested that a certain noted artist might earn,
say 
a quarter million on a single painting. Let me be clear about this.
There is 
absolutely no significant adult market for original paleo paintings in

existence. There was one briefly after the first JP came out in Japan
and some 
artists earned modest amounts, but then their economy went belly up. 
Lazendorf, a famed hair dresser with top level clientele packed his
high rise 
apartment to the gills for a few years, and then sold it off for a lot
of money 
and switched I hear to Asian art. 

There are a number of fellow paleo nerds who would love to have
Hallett, 
Gurchie or Paul on their walls. And they can only afford posters.
Considering 
the time etc involved it does not make sense to sell an original color
of 
say 3x4 ft for less than some thousands of dollars. I have a website
and I am 
easy to contact and have not sold an original to a private collector
for 
years. As far as I know much the same applies to other paleoartists.
Many a 
time I have been asked if I sell originals and when I tell them how
much they 
are unable to proceed (also, because I modify old work a lot selling it
off 
is not the best). 

A quarter million for a dinosaur painting, come on.  And I wish. 

Now, maybe setting up a paleoartist site that includes a venue for 
promoting original art will improve matters. One can doubt that it
will, but it it 
might work and is worth a try. Even if it does it will take years to
build up 
clientele and no one will get rich that way.  

Books. Back when I did PDW, repped by top NY agent Brockman to a top NY

publisher, it was the last few years that that was possible. The only
adult 
dino books a major publisher will even come close to considering these
days is 
a narrative tradebook, and the publishers actually require that it
include 
minimal illustrations to keep down production costs and because they
fear 
they turn off readers. If you do not believe this then you contact the

tradebook agents and see what they tell you. I know the business. In
general only 
university presses pick up those kinds of books these days and they
cannot pay 
useful advances and sales are so limited that they are in effect vanity

books. 

But what about kidsbooks? I and others have approached a number of
juvenile 
book publishers and agents and no takers. (Maybe you noticed I have not

done kidsbooks, that's why). Am not entirely sure why this is, probably
has to 
do with publishers keeping costs down by using derivative art that
basically 
rips some of us off. I was once on the verge of a big deal but the 
publisher at that moment decided to concentrate on fiction works do to
changing 
market forces. 

Kids products and other licensing. A couple of agents repped my work
and 
got nowhere. Again producers prefer to keep their costs down rather
than pay 
significant up front fees or royalties. 

I have been told by product representatives that art derivative of mine

seriously impairs my ability to get work, and that I need to do
something about 
it. Which I am doing. 

Exhibits. This remains an important source of income. But musuem and 
science center exhibits managers chronically plead poverty (because
they 
overdesign their exhibits relative to their budgets) and drive down
payments to below 
acceptable levels. Because there are so many paleoartists willing to
work 
for peanuts many are taking advantage of this situation. Also, there
just are 
not that many paleoexhibits in production at a given time. 

Dino docs. Because cable programming is marginally funded the producers

always plead poverty. Because of under cost competition -- some
derivative of 
my work, some not -- I don't get that sort of work these days. 

How about selling stuff on the web? Ha, ha, ha, ha. That's one of the
great 
jokes of the digital era. 

Someone was going on about how some paleoartists can charge lower
prices 
because they are "more efficient." What a disconnect from reality and
plain 
common sense. Doing dinosaur art is not following Moore's Law. Using
copiers 
to quickly resize elements does help a little. But doing ORIGINAL
dinosaur 
restorations is ALWAYS a long, tedious process that takes lots and lots
of 
research including digging through often old and hard to get
publications and 
travel. Using computers for rendering basic skeletons does not seem to
save 
time (and I seem to catch more errors when using old analog methods,
and the 
computer produced skeletons out there seem prone to low levesl of
fidelity). 
I am as efficient as anyone when it comes to doing real paleoart. The
one 
way to seem to become more efficient in this specialty is to be
derivative 
rather than original, and basically use the published work of others to
gain 
an edge on those very artists. 

And someone was giving us paleoartists wise and sage advice about how 
perhaps we should understand that because there is so much competition
(much of 
which is derivative) that we should accept it being mere part time work
that 
we do on the side. Aside from making us into mere amateurs, if I did
that 
then I could not have produced all those nice skeletal restorations so
many 
seem to really like (and in some cases use for their paleoart that then

competes with mines). 

Think about. Really, think it through. 

To be blunt about it, if you are considering getting into paleoart,
think 
about it twice, three, times and then four. The paleomarket will always
be 
too small to sustain a large number of artists. Even so, I do think
that the 
situation can be significantly improved if certain steps are taken.  

These discussions on these lists, although far more extensive than I 
thought they would be and perhaps tedious to those not involved in the
issue 
(rather tedious to me for that matter), are very important to the field
of vert 
paleo, and should have occurred long ago -- I have perhaps been tardy
in 
waiting to bring up these issues. But one reason the discussion is
longer -- and 
more vehment -- than it perhaps needs to be is because some who are not

familiar with the paleoart facts continue to feel obliged to lecture us

paleoartists, sometimes harshly -- about what we should to. Don't do
that. And if 
you are going to debate me remember that I have long had contacts with
top 
agents, attorneys etc, and of course I have little patience for
tendentious 
arguments from those who lack sufficient knowledge to dispute the facts
that I 
lay out. Treat me and others who have been in the bizz awhile with some
 
respect. 

And never tell me, "but Greg, your work is so good, surely there is big

demand for it if you just get the right agent" or so forth. Have heard
that one 
before. 

G Paul 





 




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