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A short outline program for improving paleoart

Moving the paleoart discussion along, the next thing to consider is the 
positive steps that can improve the situation. 

A -- if not the -- core aim of a paleoartist website/society needs to be to 
promote the ability of the artists to make a good living from the craft, 
and to ensure that all involved from the artists’ and contractors’ sides 
follow ethical practices that do not take advantage of the artists while 
delivering the highest quality art. 

To recap real quick the reasons why there is a problem. Some contractors 
probably just don’t know of the difficulties and merely need some education. 
The lack of communication, information, and some cooperation between 
paleoartists allows some exhibit and documentary project managers to pursue a 
of divide and conquer between the creative talent that their projects could 
not exist without that they then exploit to keep their costs down. A 
combination of shaming, and coordination between paleoartists, can correct this 
at least some extent.

The valiant and partially successful attempt a while back by Tess to do 
something about all this did not work as fully as hoped in part because it was 
largely by one person - had any other individual made the same effort the 
results would have been similarly limited. What is needed is a more prominent 
and collective effort that contractors etc cannot wave away as the opinion 
of just one. 

Some of the paleoart/site/society items needed are as follows – 

A statement of the standards that contractors and project managers need to 
follow as along the lines of the preliminary draft I earlier posted. Core 
themes include their not underpaying artists, and their accepting only 
original art. The combination of education and shaming of contractors, the 
this will give sympathetic managers, and the ability of artists to use this 
as their professional negotiating standard, is likely to make this more 
effective than many may think. (Here is one of the cool things about this. 
Assume that – as described on the list – an artist is presented an insulting 
offer that some friendly discussion does not change. Then politely refer the 
manager to the statement. Even if it does not get them to improve their offer 
at least they will have a better idea of what kind of person they are and 
you will hopefully feel a little better.) 

A detailed set of minimum pricing for a variety of projects that provides 
the generous compensation needed to live in these United States. There are of 
course details to be worked out, including possible adjustments for 
differing living expenses depending on location etc (I suppose outside the US 
have to adjust accordingly).  Contractors would be strongly discouraged 
from demanding lower prices from any artist, and the latter would all be 
strongly discouraged from accepting lower rates (not that it would be illegal). 
This actually benefits new artists as well as those who have been around 
awhile because it will be harder for contractors to exploit the formers’ 
It will be stressed that these are minimums and contractors would be 
encouraged to offer higher fees and any artists who wish to and can encouraged 
negotiate for them. How will contractors know about this? Literally send it 
to all of them when it is ready, and get publicity through the press. 

A location where paleoartists can praise and complain about contractors. 
This could be highly effective. That possibility that paleoartists could post 
positive thoughts about working with someone should further encourage 
project managers to do the right thing – people like being praised. The fear of 
being called out might cause others to better behave themselves – up until now 
operating in the dark has allowed contractors to get away too much. There 
would have to be rules about criticism not being over the top and sticking to 
the facts. 

A statement of the standards that paleoartists need to follow. I was going 
to write up a draft, but basically it is just to not underbid, to produce 
original work, to not over promise results including not taking on too many 
projects at once, and to strive to fulfill contractual requirements. 

A discussion on donating art might be a good idea. Including about the very 
best way for art to be donated is for people with money to buy it and then 
donate it to a good cause rather than always asking those artists who are 
struggling to do so (not that there is anything wrong with any artist donating 
their work for a cause). 

A helpful guide to paleontologists on working with paleoartists. This would 
include a section informing the former on how to provide the latter with 
the information needed to restore extinct beasts. For example bracketing side 
views of skeletons. Also how technical papers can be better structured (for 
example larger scale bars in figures of bones, and making sure the scale 
bars actually match the measurment tables). Also discussed will be the need to 
try to include funding for art in grant proposals, including for picking up 
previously produced images. And an explanation on how to approach 
paleoartists to use their images. 

Sections giving other helpful advice on marketing and techniques to 
artists. These can be posted by paleoartists. 

A paleoart gallery within which we can place their original art for sale. 
If there is any way of developing a market for this stuff this may be the 
only means. This might be a stand alone site. 

In parallel, SVP needs to do something about pressuring documentary 
companies to do a better job of presenting the science of VP. Getting them to 
the right thing in terms of program content requires getting them to treat 
artists fairly and getting them to do the last requires getting them to do the 
first. They need taming all around.  

This is just a brief outline, I am not going to come close to trying to 
describe the many details that have to be collectively worked out in the 

Unless someone can come up with better ideas the alternative is to let the 
situation continue as is or more likely get worse. If you don’t like the 
above please do not merely criticize (and let’s not repeat the arguments 
already made), present new and most importantly plausible alternatives. 
ideas are especially useful. 

If this does not work over time a more formal union might be tried. 

The real question is why have we taken so long to do something along these 
lines? Paleoartists of the World Unite, or whatever. 

G Paul