The Unvarnished Truth: Susie Cagle on a Freelance Career
Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 25, 2014
At first glance, writer and cartoonist Susie Cagle looks as if she’s swimming in success. A graduate with a Master’s in journalism from Columbia University, her recent work includes such prestigious clients as Wired, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and McSweeneys. She’s appeared in radio and TV spots, and her work has been featured on NPR and in the Los Angeles Times, Print Magazine, and the Washington Post. People with “regular” staff jobs often tell her they envy her lifestyle. Yet, as Cagle describes it, “they then break eye contact when I tell them how much I am paid.”
In “Eight Years of Solitude: On freelance labor, journalism, and survival,” Cagle gives an unsentimental look at her career as an independent journalist and cartoonist. Her career has followed a trajectory similar to that of many capable and well-educated journalists: a Master’s degree, unsuccessful applications to entry level positions and unpaid internships, blogging assignments for $10 an hour, and a brief stint as a staff writer for a real estate blog before being laid off.
To distinguish herself from a glut other out-of-work journalists, Cagle taught herself to cartoon. The additional skill gave a boost to her bank account – a small illustration could earn as much as a 2,000 word story on a major news site. While her unusual skill set attracted notice (and requests for free work in exchange for “exposure”), she discovered that her talent in illustration devalued her legitimacy as a journalist. She also discovered the huge disconnect between publicity and income, earning less than $20,000 in the year in which she had the most exposure on TV, radio, and in print. (Check out Tim Kreider’s beautiful summation of the value of “exposure” to a working illustrator.)
Cagle now finds herself on a treadmill of underpaid work: “I’m terrified that if I don’t publish an article one week, I might be forgotten altogether, losing out on the hypothetical opportunities I’ve been working toward for the better part of these last eight years.” It’s a bleak assessment of the freelance world, but one that rings true.
Top right: self portrait © Susie Cagle. Used with permission of the artist.
Brought to our attention by @ColleenDoran
New Guild Member Benefit: Tutorials by Joseph Caserto
Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 06, 2014
Guild member Joseph Caserto teaches a variety of courses relevant to illustrators and designers through the online portal, Udemy. He’s offering his full range of classes to Guild members at a generous discount. The coursework covers topics for creatives at all skill levels, from Adobe Digital Publishing Suite for Beginners, through InDesign TurboChargers and Create Your Own iPad and Android Publications. Guild members may access the discount code by logging into the Guild website (login area on the upper right), and visiting the Professional Discounts: Workshops & Classes page. Please note that the discount is only extended to Joseph Caserto’s classes on the Udemy website.
Not so Much to Like: Facebook Page Reach Declines
Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 20, 2014
Have you set up a Facebook page for your illustration or design business? Chances are this winter you’ve seen a large drop in the total reach of your page posts. On the Guild’s Facebook page alone, we’ve seen a drop in total reach of up to 60% for some posts. For the past six months, Facebook has been tweaking their News Feed algorithm to emphasize posts on links, and decrease the reach of posts with meme and spammy content. While there is some speculation that the move is an attempt to drive businesses to purchase ads on Facebook, the company states that it’s seeking to provide a higher quality, more meaningful news feed for its participants.
Purchasing ad space on Facebook is probably not the best use of a limited marketing budget for the average design or illustration shop. However, there still are a number of steps you can take to increase your Page’s exposure. Chad Whittman, founder of EdgeRank Checker, posted an article on The Moz Blog describing the results of an extensive case study comparing the organic reach of two Pages which posted different content. Whittman’s takeaway from the case study is that page administrators should focus on quality engagement rather than frequent calls to action, post frequently and at different times of the day, and study their page analytics to understand which posts and sources engage their followers.
In late January, Facebook announced two recent changes to the Newsfeed algorithm, “Story Bumping” and “Last Actor”. Story Bumping posts older stories to the top of a News Feed if readers are still engaging it, and Last Actor prioritizes posts from Pages of friends with whom a user has recently interacted. Cuttica urges Page administrators to take advantage of these changes by visiting old posts people have commented on and replying to them, and by linking back to an old post in a new post or by embedding the post in a blog or webpage.
An Invitation: Intensive with Bob Gill, June 9-13
Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 31, 2014
An invitation to the first six intrepid souls to spend an intensive week with Bob Gill in his New York City studio, June 9-13. The workshop will consist of the following:
- A comprehensive evaluation of each designer's portfolio.
- A discussion of each designer's goals (attainable and unattainable).
- A complete description of Gill's process of changing ordinary design and illustration problems into exciting, original solutions that really work.
- A series of one-day assignments tailored to each designer's needs.
- Frank criticism of each assignment.
- Bagels and coffee.
Gill is in the New York Art Directors Hall of Fame and is one of the founders of Pentagram Design. His latest book is Bob Gill, So Far.
www.bobgilletc.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | (212) 460-0950
Artist Dies of Exposure: Tim Kreider on Working for Free
Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 10, 2013
This October cartoonist and writer Tim Kreider had a particularly galling week, in which he received no less than three requests for his services, for free – in exchange for “exposure.” The experience drove him to issue a manifesto via The New York Times Op-Ed page, in which he calls upon his younger colleagues to not give away their work. In fairness, Kreider admits that many of the requests come from struggling organizations or publishers. But in his article, "Slaves of the Internet, Unite!" he accurately describes a cultural shift which has occurred, in which creative work has been devalued and demoted to “content”, and in which the ease of digitizing and accessing that work via the Internet has lead to stagnant income increases.
Kreider concludes his article by pointing out that businesses wouldn’t keep making the “free work for exposure” pitch unless it worked on somebody. In response he offers a bit of writing he’s willing to donate: a template for a polite refusal to send in answer to the next request for free labor.
Tim Kreider splits his time between New York City and the Chesapeake Bay. He is the author of We Learn Nothing: Essays and Cartoons (Simon & Schuster), and his cartoons have been collected in three volumes by Fantagraphics. He is a contributor to numerous publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Men’s Journal. He is also the creator of the cartoon, The Pain–When Will It End?, which appeared in the Baltiimore Sun from 2000-2012.
Image © Tim KreiderPrevious Page Next Page
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