Friday, October 14, 2011

First the President, Now 002Houston Magazine

by Robert Boyd

Hey artists! Just hours after I wrote about this spec art fiasco, here's another one, much closer to home this time. 002Magazine appears to be a magazine focusing on photos of Houston's rich people and the things they can buy, and it wants artists to design a cover for it for free. I wonder if their printer works for free? I guess advertising revenues must be way down!

Now maybe I'm being unfair. After all, "Your design could be printed in 70,000 issues distributed all over the Houston area!" Also, "Qualifying submissions will be displayed at Colton & Farb Gallery (2445 North Blvd., Houston, TX 77098; 713.869.5151) at an exhibition on November 4, 2011."

When your landlord comes knocking on your door, I wonder if he'll take "exposure" instead of money for rent.

(Fair disclosure: The Great God Pan Is Dead doesn't pay its contributors. But we have no revenue and make no promises about exposure. In fact, I am pretty sure that writing for The Great God Pan Is Dead is bad for your career. I hope I mentioned that to Dean...)

Your chance to work for free!



  1. I love your blog, Robert. Lots and lots. And am grateful for what you, Dean and Brian do. But I have to play devil's advocate here. 002houston Magazine has been incredibly supportive of the arts in Houston. And in an age when arts coverage is shrinking, that can't be taken for granted. I know several artists, designers, photographers, and stylists who work with them and they have an excellent reputation for being professional, timely, and fair with their compensation. They have not only been open to covering the 'anointed' ones in the art world, but take chances on the indie, the up-and-coming and the off-the-beaten path. Full disclosure is that my organization has a strong relationship with 002, but through that relationship, several artists and arts groups have gotten print coverage they wouldn't have otherwise received. I could give you a long list of endorsements if you still need convincing.

    I understand the standpoint on spec work, but let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. And I'd caution the art community to rake a publication like 002 over the coals when they've been such an ally throughout the years. Especially in introducing the type of audiences who aren't already reading arts publications.

    And knowing the 002 team, which has some very capable artists on *staff*, this contest is not about getting free work... but about community involvement. Last year, the winners of the contest (The Community Cloth) saw a big surge in interest for their cause. Win/win. Artists always have the right to refrain.

  2. 002Magazine should pay the winner the going rate. (And so should President Obama.) Not sure what the going rate is? There's a whole book on the subject: Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines.

    If you are going to have an art contest, the prize should be something better than exposure. When Scholastic has its annual art contests for 7th to 12th graders (i.e., obvious amateurs), they pay the winners with scholarships.

    (That said, I am a total hypocrite who doesn't pay Dean Liscum a dime for his excellent posts.)

  3. Ha! I get it, Robert- I do. But isn't the issue with spec work, even if the winner gets paid, that all the "losers" have worked for free? What I think makes this case a little bit different than many other contests like this is that the artists are not necessarily being given constraints (i.e. they aren't designing a GAP logo, which comes with brand identity research, etc.). They aren't necessarily having to alter their work... and have, in many cases, submitted their existing work, as is. (Without- I believe- 002 retaining any rights to the images.) Many of the finalists are showcased in the December issue like so:

    Featured artists have included Nicola Parente, Wendy Wagner, Emilie Duvall, and David Brown among others. So, I get what your saying. On the other hand...

  4. By that logic, 002 should run all of its ads for free, because its advertisers feature the magazine in their stores and businesses.

  5. Wha? I think you should explain this notion a little further, because I don't quite understand.

  6. Can somebody tell me how "they support the arts!" synchs up with, "Artists should do our poster for free!" ? I'm probably dumb, but I'm kinda not making the two things connect here. Scratching head.

  7. Well at least 002 isn't making them pay an entry fee. "It'll be great exposure" is the first utterance of an operator trying to get something for nothing. I like how you have just tainted the whole thing, Mr. Boyd. We could use a little more contention down here in luke-warm-nice-polite-never-criticize-or-take-a-position-land.

  8. Exposure has value--a nice tearsheet from a well-known magazine in your portfolio is worth something. But my problem is that publishers know that exposure has some value (particularly for young artists/designers) and use the offer of exposure as a substitute for cash. It seems abusive.

    This is obviously a situational thing. If you are doing a piece for a non-profit or charity or co-op that basically runs on volunteer labor and handouts, well that's inherently different than doing a piece for a commercial publication.

    As for stirring shit up, I will plead that I am no saint because shit-stirring leads to page views which leads to ego-boosting. I'm just as selfish and vain as the next guy.

  9. Are you kidding? Getting your work featured in the cover of a magazine is more than enough pay. Now if they wanted me to do that every month. then I would ask for some cash