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Illustration

The Unvarnished Truth: Susie Cagle on a Freelance Career

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 25, 2014

self portrait © Susie CagleAt 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

Getty Image Embed: A Murky Future

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 11, 2014

Stock image giant Getty Images announced this month that the company was making 35 million images free for non-commercial use via their image embed technology. The selected images are indentified on the stock site with a “</>” icon. Clicking on the symbol yields a snippet of code which can be copied into the source code of a website or blog, causing the unwatermarked image to appear on the  page. As reported in the British Journal of Photography, Craig Peters, senior vice president of business development, content and marketing at Getty, states that the step was taken in recognition of the widespread infringement of their licensed images: “What we’re finding is that the vast majority of infringement in this space happens with self-publishers who typically don’t know anything about copyright and licensing, and simply don’t have any budget to support their content needs.”

The embedded images include Getty’s logo, the photographer’s credit, and social media sharing links which appear underneath the image area. The image links back to the image page on Getty’s site, with information on licensing a higher resolution copy of the image. The technology used to embed the image, deploying iframes, prevents users from changing the image size, and also restricts the images from being fully responsive. (When image embed was first announced, users realized they could in fact crop out the credit line and Getty logo, but Getty quickly altered the code to prevent this.) According to Peters, by making a large library of images available for legal sharing, Getty hopes to benefit their “content creators.”

However, looking at Getty’s terms of use raises questions about Getty’s plans to monetize the image embed player. As Pat David reported in PetaPixel, the embed player iframe element will permit Getty to load any content into the user’s webpage. Although Getty claims to not have any plans in the works to monetize the embed feature, their terms of use reserve that right: “Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.” Joshua Benton on the Nieman Journalism Lab speculates that Getty could gather data from the embedded images to target ads to specific websites.

Additionally, Getty contributors – photographers and illustrators who participate on the site – do not have the option to opt out of the image embed program. (Getty is withholding their premium Reportage and Contour from the program.) Wired speculates that with careful planning, the embed program could yield better compensation to Getty’s photographers or illustrators – or could fail miserably. Either way, it’s easy to envision that one repercussion of the program will be the continued devaluation of visual works as “content” which should be free.

New Guild Member Benefit: Tutorials by Joseph Caserto

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 06, 2014

Joseph Caserto tutorial on UDEMYGuild 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.

Purge Yourself: Jealousy is Creative Poison

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 21, 2014

Jim ZubThe multi-talented artist, writer, and educator, Jim Zub, has written a cautionary article on the destructive power of jealousy. “Jealousy is Creative Poison” is targeted to new cartoonists and comic book creators, but the advice is relevant to anyone working in a creative field. Zub acknowledges that he is stating the obvious when he warns artists against measuring their success against that of others. While he recognizes that jealousy is unavoidable in a career in which one’s ego is wrapped in one’s creation, he exhorts creators to push past it.

Zub passes on three key pieces of advice: First, don’t let jealousy motivate creation, leading you to tear down the work of others. Second, don’t lash out when you feel as though you’re failing. And third, don’t focus on others’ success, but live in your present. Zub ends on a high note, reminding his readers that there is an extensive audience for good stories, good characters, and artists who persevere.

Zub’s website is well worth a visit to aspiring comic book authors and graphic novelists. He’s featured a series of articles covering everything from “How to Break into Comics” to “How to Find an Artist,” comic writing, creator-owned economics, communication, and comic promotion.

Jim Zub is an award winning cartoonist and writer living in Toronto, Canada. He is the writer of Samurai Jack, Makeshift Miracle, Skullkickers, and Pathfinder. His client list includes Disney, Warner Bros., Hasbro, and Mattel. When he isn’t writing comics and graphic novels, he’s the Program Coordinator for the animation program at Seneca College.

Photo used with permission.

From Croatia, with Love (and Inspiration): The Design Blog

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 18, 2014

Croatian designer Ena Baćanović  (aka Ruby Soho) made a splash when her “If I Wanted to Work for Free…” poster went viral in the summer of 2012. Few realized then that she is also the founder and curator of The Design Blog, a collection of inspirations and resources from around the globe. The Design Blog seeks to live up to its mantra, “Don’t Just Be a Designer  – Be a Good One” by featuring beautiful work and resources. The homepage features selected projects, elaborated upon with text and photographs from the creators.

The site also has recurring sections, which showcase work and projects across a range of disciplines on selected days of the week, such as Designer of the Week, Web Design Wednesdays, UI/UX of the Week, Featured Video, and Friday Freebies. (The moniker “of the Week” is a bit ambitious. Although posts for each section are frequent, they don’t seem to appear on a weekly basis – hardly surprising considering the breadth of disciplines which are covered.) An extensive list of resources lists typography resources and inspirational blogs.

The Design Blog is all the more impressive when one considers that Baćanović is only 23 years old. She’s both energetic and multi-faceted. In addition to running The Design Blog and working on her own projects, she’s the drummer in the female band Punchke.

Images @ Ena Baćanović. Used with permission.

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