So WilburWateley@gmail.com and Mark.Witton@port.ac.uk continue to
repeatedly offer unsoliciated advice -- i. e. lecturing -- to paleoartists less
than they that they should get other careers and do paleoart as a mere
sideline in which they admit defeat and meekly accept whatever financial scraps
that project managers might toss their way, ensuring that it will never be
possible to paleoart to be a profession for again the most skilled in the
It is tempting to pay no more attentions to this sort of useless, supine,
negative, defeatist, inadequately informed nay saying, accomodationist,
pessimistic, thinking. But it is actually so dangerous if it gets a foot hold
that it needs to be addressed. Also, it gives a chance to point out another
reason why a website statement to contractors has a good possiblity of doing
First an analogy. It is the late Pleistocene, when hunter-gatherers lead
hard lives in an to often uncaring world -- kind of like being a paleoartist
these days. On one side are the progressive, forward thinking, reasonably
optimistic, let's get together and improve the situation by taking the steps to
devise and utilize new methods and technologies to raise general living
standards and enjoy better lives. Hey, it may not work, but it's worth a shot
so lets see what happens. On the other side are the nay saying pessimemists.
Let give them some randomaly chosen names, like Markus and Wilburi. They are
the perpetual whiners and back seat drivers who even when others tell them
to please mind their own business cannot help go and on about how it is the
fate of humans to accept their lot in life, and why try do something about
it because they think, without adequate proof, that it is hopeless. You know
the type. If those folks had their way we would still be throwing rocks at
rabbits and eating tubers for dinner on the African plains.
It really is appalling how defeatist and useless M and W are on this
subject. The only way their argument would be justified is if there already had
been a well designed and run effort web-based effort to improve the situation
of paleoartists for a number of years and it had failed. But this is not
even close to being the case. Instead paleoartists including me have been so
isolated and disorganized that they have allowed the contractors to gain the
upper hand and regularly rip us off. What needs to be done is not the through
up our hands as per M& W and celebrate being underpaid amateurs like as
one of them seems to be proposing.
This brings us to a particualr reason why I as a person whose been in the
business a long time thinks we can begin to discipline some project managers.
Especially those who try to down price the talent because they probably
have a mistaken view of the finances of paleoartists.
Say there is a person managing a paleoexhibit at a science center. They
don't have a lot of money but of course they want the biggest display they can
put up. So they are tempted to underbudget for the art. One reason they
assume this is OK is because they figure that obviously dinosaurs are
tremendously popular and there is all that product on the shelves and the web,
must be easy for paleoartists to make the big bucks. So certainly the
paleoartist/s they approach will understand their circumstances and reduce their
pricing for them, right? Sort of semi-charitable work for a poorly funded
institution. Surely the artist can latter make it up on that 6 figure product
deal or painting, and they can use their being the artist of that excellent
exhibit to help convince contractors in later projects to pay them the big
bucks (which is one reason why if you are approaching an artist with a low
price deal never point out that their name and copyright will be prominently
displayed and will bring them publicity that does not pay the bills, it is
always annoying). The manager may also be willing to approach lower cost
derivative artists on the assumption that the higher tier talent is doing just
with those Hollywood deals so they won't mind wahts going on. In other
words they are ignorant of the actual situation.
Ergo the need for a web statement. When any paleoartist is approached and
asked to offer a bid that the contractor will then try to negotiate way down,
the artist does not have to awkardly explain their personal situation which
comes across as some person just complaining so they go to someone else who
is too fearful of losing yet another job they do what M& W think is best.
They instead tell the project manager to please go to the web statement in
which a bunch of paleoartists have politely but firmly detailed the many
reasons why every single intitutional or commercial paleoart project must pay a
fair price for the product received and so on, and thank you for never
assuming that any artist can make it up elsewhere (in hindsight my initial draft
does not go near far enough to do this so it needs revision).
The situation has now been flipped. It is the project manager who will now
come across as churlish and unprofessional if they try to negotiate below
the minimum standards. Some may not even try to do so.
Having been better informed some project managers will then sincerely
strive to meet the professional standards, and some will even use the standards
to go to their higher ups and put pressure on them to do what is right. Other
managers may be less happy to be fair, but now they are clearly being
unprofessional if their pressure to get the artist to downprice, so their
position is weakened and may be untenable.
The situation might be even better in that the statement will be regularly
circulated among known contractors, so they will be educated before
budgeting projects and approaching artists.
There as been a tendancy of some to state that lots of product producers
won't care about some sort of paleoartist statement so what's the point. This
is very probably true in some regards, cheap toy manufacturers using
overseas labor etc. But there are areas in which pressure has a good chance of
working. In particular organizations that seek to maintain a level of public
respectability including museum exhibits that remain a major source of income.
Documentary companies that have to have the collaboration of
paleontologists, and so on.
So let us not let the likes of the do little or nothing pessimists M& W to
ruin paleoartistry. Why would I or anyone listen to lecturers who have
nothing positive to propose? Their scheme would mean that there would be no
professional body of paleoillustration that paleontologists could call upon, and
would seriously degrade the quality of the art available to the public.
Instead let's get out there and see what can be done to improve the field. I
would not urge paleoartists to take positive steps if I lacked good reason to
think they have a good chance of working.
Like they say, if at first you don't succeed well that's it for
skydiving.... I mean try, try again.
In a message dated 3/15/11 9:46:48 PM, WilburWateley@gmail.com writes:
<< Unfortunately this isn'ta world of ideal circumstances and like anyone
in any artistic medium when the rubber meets the road and you find it hard
to acquire income in your particular niche medium or field, and paleoart is
pretty darn particular, you will have to inevitably become pragmatic and
expand your fields of work. This could include venturing into the
contemporary wildlife, fantasy and historical arts to supplement your
income. This is in the end a more practical and realistic scheme than to
futilely attempt to bully or prosecute new and up-and-coming artists who
venture into the field of paleoart, many of whom undoubtedly use the
above-mentioned tactics of genre-hopping to their financial advantage.
Certainly many honed paleoartists would love nothing better than to stay in
the artistic realm they know best. However, as said, this is a world of
realities, sometimes grim, but a world better served by being realistic to
the problems that arise and taking advantage of the shortcomings, financial
or otherwise, that life inevitably throws your way.
Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
"Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance."
In a message dated 3/16/11 6:57:48 AM, Mark.Witton@port.ac.uk writes:
<< 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'.>></HTML>