I was at the Australian Quilt Market last year and I got together with some designer friends. We’re all in different phases of our careers, all women, and all fantastically talented.
It’s always a great joy to meet up with peers every so often because as surface designers, we usually work from home and it’s so good to hear about other designer’s experience.
Raising The Bar
One of the things we talked about was ‘raising the bar’ of the industry. We have all experienced low ball offers, being taken advantaged of in some way or other, or have suffered from some level of grief from dodgy agents/ clients. The reality of surface pattern design is, it can be challenging to break into, and depending on projects, it may not be very profitable at all.
BUT, and this is a big BUT, before we can raise the bar of the industry, we need to raise the bar within the artist community. I’m talking about working together, having more honesty, talking about prices, and even sharing clients, or, maybe the little things like, encouraging each other and not talking badly about someone’s work. We have to have a long look at ourselves before we can change the world.
I haven’t been in licensing long, but I have been in artists/ photographers/ designers circles for TEN years. There’s a lot of rivalry in the field because there is a mindset that there isn’t enough to go around.
Is There Room for Me?
𝐍𝐄𝗪𝐒 𝐅𝐋𝐀𝐒𝐇: There IS! There is plenty of room for everyone. I’m not kidding. The only thing we, as artists and designers, should be concerned about is improving our skill and growing our voice brighter, stronger, louder. Our artwork are so varied and so unique that if we all focused on delivering great work, one way or another, we will get jobs.
Companies are always on the lookout for beautiful artwork. But they also want to have work that resonates with their brand. If artist A and B present their portfolios to Company XYZ, both excellent stuff, the reality is, the company will choose the one that works best with their brand. It’s not that the other artist’s work isn’t good enough, it might not be for Company XYZ’s market. You can’t sell steak to vegetarians.
What Does ‘Raising The Bar’ Look Like?
Telling your peers that there’s a callout for artwork by an agent or company. If you have a close relationship with your client, let them know about an artist that you think might be a great fit for their brand, encouraging your artist friends and giving constructive criticism IF they ask for it; sharing information about how much you were paid by an agent or company, showing the ropes on pitching to companies. When you create a tribe, and they become informed and educated about the industry, NO ONE can shake that wall of unity, no one gets ripped off.
Eat That Cake
I have always disliked the phrase, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. Then what is THE point of having the cake? Why don’t we make the cake bigger and share it around? Having the whole thing will just make us sick, but by sharing it, it means everyone gets a slice of happiness.
This is the BIGGEST reason to why I started my Facebook group. I want to break down that dang wall and build up a community of artists so we can all do the work we love and get paid fairly for it. I think it’s fair to say that’s what we all truly want.