View Full Version : How can anybody ask for an unpaid map?

04-26-2010, 02:34 PM
(... gets on soap box)
Even I, with no dough to spare.. would at least put up a token $10 or $20 for a map, even if I was a just a teenager with an allowance. Even the homeless have time to scrape up returnable cans for their liquor. One just wonders how badly these people really need/want these maps?! I have donated the use of one of my maps for an inner city group but they didn't actually ask me to take time to make the map for free... there's a difference. Anyhow, I'm not trying to offend... i'm sure some could have a truly reasonable explanation (?).. it just today struck me as odd.

04-26-2010, 03:10 PM
I think that as long as people are willing to provide maps for free (and there are many such generous souls right here) then there will be requests for free maps. Sometimes people just fancy it, or are having some trouble with inspiration for maps of their own. And there are people for whom that $10 or $20 is a lot. Also, as soon as you make it a paid commission, for however little that may be, the relationship between the person asking for the map and the person providing it changes. I think they are two different things.

04-26-2010, 03:46 PM
I wish I could impress on most requesters that it is probably in their own best interest to learn to love an existing map with a generous license or generous artist. It takes the request from the lazy to the flattering. "I really liked ..... do you mind if I use it privately".

I think it is one thing to be asked about a finished work but a completely different thing to undergo making a new work. And there are so many good maps here of tremendous quality.

If you don't think you have the ability to make your own map, have the patience to look through the hundreds of maps here and ask permission of the cartographer respectfully. Very often it will get you the use of a map in short order. It may create a friendship with the creator who _might_ modify it or future maps to suit, and it gives you something concrete to talk about.

Failing that there are numerous projects that develop a shared map. You might genuinely enjoy contributing your writing for a larger project. Likely, you could use the project for your private game or whatever and have the satisfaction of contributing to something larger than yourself.

The Cooperative World Building Project has lots of maps designed to be shared and they need developers, writers, artists and anything else that inspires.... The more people a project benefits the more likely you will get contributions.

Too many map requests are really creators looking for recognition for their own work. "I have this great world but it doesn't have a map.". The subtext seems to be that the requester's world is so great that it's an inspiration to make a map, and a kindness to let the cartographer do it. That premise locks the cartographer out of genuine collaboration - the map is an imperfect copy of a hard to describe idea - and it simply isn't much fun. The idea\request should change with the map, as it would if the author did it themselves.

Time fulfilling a request is taken from other activities\family members\needs. I would urge requesters to start with the cartographer's inspiration, recognize their vision and collaborate with a piece whose work is already done. Its much less frustrating to talk from a concrete example and its much more fun for the cartographer to see their own work come to life rather than be some sort of poor prosthetic for someone without the faith, talent, or will to make their own maps. So the city is too far north. It has one too many mountains. There's a lake, river, continent you didn't expect. Adapt! There is a false impression that fantasy maps must be perfect and that stories don't, in part, adapt to maps.

My advice, especially if you are not going to recompense the artist, get permission to use a map that has been already made. If possible change things in your story to adapt to the map. Your flexibility will give you more choice and better relations. It boils down to how you treat volunteers. If you're paying for a map set your goals and ask if they can be reached for the agreed price. If you are offering no incentive, try to make it as much fun for everyone as you can. Always attribute the work and a little praise never hurts.

04-26-2010, 04:29 PM
Well that post just seems like a whole lot of sense.

Great post, Sigurd. Well thought out points and well written. :)

04-26-2010, 04:40 PM
Siggie always has been, and always will be, the most insightful member here...much respect. As for the free stuff, well, I look at it like this...it gives me a chance to learn new things, experiment even more (muhahahah), and hone my skills. I've done about three or four free things, four or five paid things, and a whole lot of my own stuff. So while the pros will overlook the unpaid stuff, we amateurs get a chance to practice. Heck, the paid stuff is often quite small when compared to the labor that goes into it. I'll put 40 hours into a map for $50 and in my stained glass I'll put 40 hours into it for, well, a whole lot more than that ;) In the end, I have no beef with free stuff at all...I just wish more requests got filled by folks willing to learn and hone their skills.

04-26-2010, 05:15 PM
Very sensible, Sigurd.... I agree totally. Having a background in graphic design, whose talents are often notoriously taken advantage of (free spec-ads, ideas, campaigns etc), probably made me sensitive to the issue. The fact that graphic designers bow to this expectation continues to devalue the demand... perhaps it is not quite the same thing (apples-to-oranges?). Still the idea did happen to conjure up a slight feeling of insult in me.. for some reason just today-too much coffee? :?:

Hobby map-making is not the same as graphic design, but it is undeniably an artform... and it is nice to have a little challenge to keep improving your skills. AND, i really do think it's a refreshing rarity to be able to get something of quality for free... but on the flip-side.. it almost hurts to think that some of these things go for free when the creator may actually need money themselves. I just hope people actually realize what talent and effort can go into these maps and what a gift they are getting. That's all.

It isn't the "doing" that I wonder about.. it's more the Asking and receiving and how that actually impacts commissions, if at all. It's obviously up to you to accept the request or not so I don't want to make too much of this "argument", I'm just sayin'. I'm not even saying I wouldn't do one (0: if the timing and request were right.

Case in point.. i had to fish around here to figure out what to charge for some commissions i just picked up.. and let me say.. woah.. very low indeed considering the potential effort.. but it's $. I guess it's all about balancing the effort with the pay-off.. which like anything is partially experience.. but many often get paid for that regardless.

04-26-2010, 05:18 PM
*applause to everyone who's posted so far, especially Sigurd*

I'll take on requests for unpaid work, though the bulk of my work lately has been paid commissions. As Ascension points out, it gives me a chance to hone skills and experiment in manners I might not with a paid map - at that point my time is better used by working with techniques that I've become familiar with (while working on unpaid maps, no less). I may not get the paid commissions I do without that unpaid work as well - it's how I built up my portfolio, along with maps I created for no other reason to create them. And if I'm looking to work in a new style, why not experiment on something that has a focus to it? Personally I find myself a better artist when I have someone saying "Would it be possible to do this or this?". I find I do better work when there's direction. And if I don't have anything else going on at the moment, why not? I've already made one great friendship from an unpaid request, and it's lead into a multitude of other opportunities for which I am grateful - and this never would have happened if I had not said "Sure, I'll give that a try".

(Another thing I like about taking on unpaid maps - it gives you a bit more chance to practice relations with the client without the pressure of money attached :) There's a lot less worry about "will i say the wrong thing and lose the commission" along with learning what to ask and how to ask it when discussing needs.)

So that's my own thoughts on the matter.
(and a quick apology to people who've known me to be a lot more verbose on the forums previously, over the last month or two there's been a lot of personal issues and some commissions that take away my time from reading and responding, and there's been days where I could have spent the entire day doing nothing but going through the forum when I see 4 pages of new posts! I'm still here and I still skim, obviously :P )

04-26-2010, 05:26 PM
I like your signature coyotemax.. it's funny how many people don't think about drawing something by hand to get that "drawn by hand" look! I once had a client that wanted a picture that looked like it was drawn by a child. So i drew a picture and had my nephew copy it. Voila.. only cost me a hot fudge sundae (0:

04-26-2010, 05:31 PM
Here's another point worth considering, if you happen to be among the "generous souls who offer their services for free" crowd. There are several professional artists within the guild who derive their livelihood from their art. In addition, there are likely others here who would like to learn how to derive some residual income from the hobby they love, and perhaps even become professional artists themselves. Map commissions present an opportunity for such guild members. Yet if other members of the guild are willing to take on unpaid map commissions-particularly if those members happen to be amongst the more talented of the guild-this would seem to serve as a disincentive for those requesting maps to offer financial compensation for the work that they are requesting. Why would someone pay a journeyman cartographer, a guild artisan, or even a professional artist to create a map that they could just as easily have had a guild community leader create for them for free? So by offering to take on unpaid commissions, these guild members may be inadvertently stifling important financial prospects for other guild members. I'm sure that this is not what is intended, but it might nevertheless be an unanticipated consequence of offering one's services for free.


04-26-2010, 05:56 PM
That's kinda what i was getting at Arsheesh.. i have a way of not getting to the point (0:

It's not that I'm saying "this must stop!" either.. i see that there are benefits to artisans that otherwise wouldn't present themselves with quite the same challenge that arises... but even still... if that same [Unpaid] came with even a $10 donation (still what a deal), and maybe some of them do donate (i'll call it a donation so that they aren't technically a client).. it might pay for one of us not so starving artists to fuel up at the gas station.. get some well deserved starbucks that we might not otherwise buy... or even go toward paying off that student loan (boring). Every dollar adds up...

04-26-2010, 07:21 PM
Many years ago I went to school and got a degree in technology and data processing because I did not want to be a "starving artist". That said, I have always enjoyed sitting down and banging out some artwork whenever I felt the urge. Not maps mind you, but that is beside the point. I even sold a piece or two but never took it very seriously. Now, I own/operate my own business in the service industry and find very little creative flow in what I am doing. Thus, I find myself being drawn back to my artistic talents and enjoying it very much. I am totally new to doing this stuff digitally but am interested in eventually turning this hobby into a source of income, if it seems feasible. I am not going to be upset if it fails to happen because I am still enjoying myself. I also happen to have another source that puts food on the table. If I was doing this for a living then I would probably be more stressed about it.

That said, I have wondered about the question being raised here and if it is possible to make any worthwhile sort of income doing this? Especially with folks giving away work that looks as good or better than what I can produce. In the end, I figure the answer is, "Not if I try to do the same thing everyone else is doing.". I need to rely on what has always set me apart from others and that is something I think each artist must do. Learn what sets you apart because your uniqueness is what makes you valuable. That is my take anyway.

Right now, I am trying to get over that hump of being held back by not knowing the digital tools well enough to produce what I can do by hand. I am still learning the lingo and size requirements, what happens when you start out creating something that is too low resolution and all the other stupid stuff that kills you when you are a noob. Once I know what I can do and have built up a little confidence in my ability to meet a deadline with something useful I will probably NOT want to "give" a lot of things away.

So why would a guy like me want to do a free map? Well, for one, I'm not entirely sure I can pull the job off. I'd hate to get reamed out by someone because they have money on the line and I'm over here flapping around with my software trying to figure out how to make a mountain look right. Also, I am not that likely to take on a free map unless it's something I can use myself, either for gaming with my friends or to add to my portfolio. It would have to be a pretty inspiring idea to jump on a free map that I did not also want for myself.

I might add that pretty much anything posted here has to be considered pretty much free maps. They are being used for who knows what which is all fine by the Creative Common rules. Art is notoriously a tough gig to make a decent living with. The world just doesn't seem to appreciate things like Art and Poetry until they are gone or the artist is dead. I don't think the once in a while "free map" is going to have much impact but if it happens all the time we certainly could be shooting ourselves in the foot.

The Art of Business blog (http://www.artofbusinessblog.com/) had a point on Crowdsourcing (http://www.carolinehimmelman.com/?cat=16) and how this is a killer as well. <-- this sounds more sinister to me. It's like tossing all of us into a mosh pit and may the best win while the thousand other entrants get absolutely jack for their hard work. Much of that will send everyone into other fields if you ask me. Unless people are just stupid or don't need money to live. If you click on the example site it says, "59,000+ designers and writers are standing by". Say what?! They will all bust out free work and you only pay the one you like best? Well, I'm not stupid, I'm not going to go into that field, Better to plant a garden and spend my time growing my own food at least then I am sure to get something out of my work.

Other than all that, pretty much what Coyotemax and some of the others already said. :)

PS. Coyotemax, I think I talk to much so it's good when i get busy in life and limit my time on the boards. I'm afraid everyone will get sick of me otherwise, hehe.

04-26-2010, 07:30 PM
I have done one or two commissions for a fee and one or two where it was a donate to the guild job which is my kinda free cos there's a $5 min donate which is next to free ain't it ? Generally like said I would do it for the CWBP generally or I might do it to try out some effect where I would try it anyway and being free or next to then if it goes wrong and does not give the desired effect then its not like anyone is hurting from it. Many of the challenge maps at least last year were with no remuneration bar the shiny icon next to your name. We do free maps all the time. Only time it really bugs me is when the request is littered with "I want" so and so like were doing this as a job. My personal opinion is that if the request is specific then it ought to have a little something in it for the artist or guild and, as said, finding one of the finished maps and getting permission is likely to be the better, quicker, option. Kudos to anyone who makes maps for free - its cool and yes it might prevent a potential commission but that's life. The Gimp is free and preventing Adobe et al from getting greenbacks. We all like free but sometimes there has to be something in it to keep the pro's doing what they do best. Which is why I donate a little to the guild and some other sites - which reminds me that I need to add some more to the pot again as its been a while now.

04-26-2010, 07:57 PM
Having ventured into 'commissioned maps' myself lately i've been reading this with interest. I admire the people who can make a living with their creative skills as they have to be very good, very fast and have a large network.

People at CG have fun creating maps ... and creating them for others can be more fun then creating one for oneself... And, as an amateur, why take on the extra pressure of an (under)paid map when one has to make a living with ones regular job anyway (including its pressure)...? So I can understand people taking on un(der)paid mapping-jobs.

The [unpaid] maps that are requested (usually) are for projects that wont make (a lot of) money (novelists, roleplaying GM's, hobby-game-programmers, etc.). So these requests are kinda like one hobbist helping another hobbist making something great and having fun in the process... Now thats cool isn't it :D

I think that people that need professional maps know they have to pay for it and (usually) wont post [unpaid] requests. Also I think people in CG wont just jump on any [unpaid] map, especially if they suspect the requesting party is trying to make serious money with that map.

Still, I understand people giving away maps for free can be bad for the people who have to make a living out of it. In my professional job (as freelance IT consultant), I have to compete with the big companies that 'throw in people' at rates that are as good as for free, keeping prices low... So I have to put a lot of effort in finding the right job from clients who recognize my quality and are willing to pay for it... I guess for the creative freelancer this is no different.


04-26-2010, 08:52 PM
Good point Dj, I hadn't considered this perspective.

04-26-2010, 11:10 PM
Are there sites where you can request free illustrations from artists (pro or amateur) as well? Free ad mock-ups.. or storyline ideas.. Just curious. If so, cool... If not.. what makes maps less valuable.

04-26-2010, 11:39 PM
Yep. There's a whole section on conceptArt for unpaid requests.

04-27-2010, 12:15 AM
I both see this question and get PMs about it all the time: is there a career in fantasy cartography?

As most of the members know, I do create maps for commissions, quite a bit over the last three years - if I depended on it alone as an income, I would qualify as a starving artist.

There are those members, like Mike Schley who regularly does work for WotC. I have no idea what he earns, nor would I ask, but he's a lot closer to earning a decent income from fantasy cartography.

That's why I've ventured into the next step beyond taking commissions (though I still take commissions), and that is publication, or at least co-publication, or as an imprint under another publisher. I've got four or five irons on the fire at the moment, and eaching seeming on the verge of something really successful or dismal failure, like any venture.

I also run Gamer Printshop where I print publishers, cartographers and directly print private users for their maps. I do all this simultaneously, each contributing an income source, but I'm still struggling.

The point is, if I didn't have a diversified catalog of fantasy map related projects, I wouldn't have a decent income at all. I'm hoping for one of my half dozen product ideas and projects I'm involved in to bring a better income. It takes a lot of work trying to make a career out of this hobby.

Can you make a career out of fantasy cartography? Sure, but it ain't easy or guaranteed. Its still a whole lot of fun, though.


PS: I use to do free maps, but that was when I had some free time. No such thing these days, my kitchen is full.

04-27-2010, 10:07 AM
Interesting topic!

Here is my tuppence worth:

The main reason why the guild has been so successful is that all the tutorials are posted for free by the kind folk who write them. We do ask people to consider helping donate towards the upkeep of the site - I've been quite unsubtle about it from time to time - and I notice in passing that a couple of posters on this thread who are unsure about whether doing free commissions is a good thing, do not themselves have a 'gracious donor' marker under their names. I don't mean that as a criticism (the vast majority of people who use this site have not donated) but simply as a statement that it's usually part of the human condition and the internet to expect things we want for free but to expect others to pay for the stuff we produce - it's a matter of perspective.

Most of the rest of what I had wanted to say has already been covered by DJ in his post.

A while back we had a discussion among the CLs about whether the guild should take a percentage of paid commission requests and even whether there ought to be a price menu so that artists wouldn't undercut each other (I think that's what Guilds were originally for in the first place), but we very quickly decided that this was not the way we wanted to go and/or that the concepts were neither workable or enforceable.

I do like the idea of doing free commissions from time to time (although I always encourage the commissioner to make a donation to the guild if they can). I don't have a novel I'm writing or an RPG world I'm building, I map for the simple pleasure of mapping. If that means that I can do a map for someone else that will actually get used in their RPG or whatever, then I get a kick out of that. It gives me a buzz that there's an RPG group in Australia and another in Colorado who are using my maps for their game. I also think that doing free commissions spreads 'good karma'. You do a free commission for X, he tells Y what a great place the guild is, and that brings more people (paying commissioners included) to the guild, although, of course, the extent to which this actually happens would be impossible to prove or disprove. RPG gaming has always had a 'DIY' feel to it, but over the years has become (IMO) saturated with commercial products. I kinda like the idea that we are (mostly) hobbyists here helping each other, whether it's in posting tutorials, providing map crits or doing free commissions.

I do see the point about offering free maps not being helpful to people who want to make maps for a living, but as DJ said, you can pretty much spot those requesters who have a commercial use in mind and those who are just hobbyists. I don't like people who demand a map for free as if it were some sort of inborn right bestowed upon them by the interwebs (that above everything gets my goat - hence the opening lines in the sticky on the Map Request forum), although generally now, posters for free maps are pretty polite about it and thankful for the help.

As GP and some others have said unless you're at the top of the profession you are not going to make a living making maps alone. The hours that can go into making a map make most of the payments less than the hourly minimum wage in the UK (which is about 6 /hour). 40 hours on a map is 240 = circa US$500 - and that's at minimum wage. I would love for there to be some way in which people who did make a living out of fantasy cartography be paid a fair rate, but we work in a free market economy and it looks like the supply far outweighs the demand. I don't think that doing free map commissions actually skews the picture to any significant extent, particularly if they are being done for non-commercial (or very speculative commercial e.g. the book that will never get finished) enterprises. The reason (I think) why cartographers - and artists generally for that matter - are underpaid is because they are too willing to underbid each other for a paying gig.

04-27-2010, 10:25 AM
As an aside, I never under bid. In fact I have gotten commissions, when I was the highest bidder. I try to negotiate up, not down in price. I will give a discounted price if I need to create 4 or more maps for project; ie: volume discount, but I only get a handful of such jobs a year. Someday I will make a career of this - but I'm not there yet.


04-27-2010, 02:04 PM
I understand that people ask for unpaid maps, because many people (me included) like to practice. And having a goal for some map definitely helps. In unpaid maps you can't complain about quality, because you're not paying them (though I'd understand that you did if the quality is really horrible), so it's a good trade off. They give you a chance to practice and an objective, you give them a map.

04-27-2010, 02:23 PM
In unpaid maps you can't complain about quality, because you're not paying them (though I'd understand that you did if the quality is really horrible)...Id say there is never grounds to complain on a free map that's the very pointed difference. No matter how bad it is you have no moral right to complain about it if its free. If a dollar then you can complain but not at zilch. Anything more than a void is a bonus. They don't like it - you give em a full refund :D

04-27-2010, 02:36 PM
As i have said.. i can see both sides and how having an outside inspiration can get ones mind going in new directions.. which is great. Obviously, us map freaks are making maps for free all of the time just for enjoyment. Mostly, I was just momentarily struck with the seemingly bold idea of actually asking for the production and use of something anywhere near the baseline of quality that i continue to see at cartographers guild for free and thought i'd pose the question on the forum.

The "Karma" rule may also be at play behind the scenes.. plus relationship building.. you never know how one favor may repay another in the long run. Anyhow, I thought it was worth the asking.. even if the post title was a little harsh it reflected the spur of the moment feeling I had but there is obviously a lot more to the mechanism than simply doing stuff for free. As long as the talent here is truly appreciated, then I am happy!

OUCH, low blow Ravells! (-: Shamefully, I am a non-donor as of yet (hangs head).. haha.. as soon as I actually get a check from one of my commissions and my pin is reflected on Redrobe's member location map I will most definitely donate (0:

04-27-2010, 02:53 PM
Seriously a2area, it wasn't meant to be. I know that that the vast majority of regular posters here are good people and you're one of them. The fact that they haven't donated to the site speaks more of their ability to donate than their will...and that's fine! We are good to each other, we help each other, we make better maps. All for free. Money isn't everything.

04-27-2010, 02:58 PM
I know, I was just joking with you anyway. The site and community is well worth a donation and I've been here about long enough to where i can say it is of definite value to me.

04-27-2010, 04:55 PM
I totally agree aZarea. In fact, my conscious has been on me for some time about not having donated yet (though I do plan to do so at some point). And I see your point Ravells about the Guild being a place for map enthusiasts and hobiests to help each other out. I love that in fact. I also realize that the average (non-commercial) private map commission is going to yield a very low return given the ratio between time and effort spent on a project and received payment for that project. That said, "the worker is worth his wages." It seems to me that, friends, family and charitable contributions aside, some degree of compensation is in order for any commissioned piece of work, particularly if there is a substantial investment of time and effort. I get the fact that not everyone can afford to pay the commissioned artist what his work is really worth, however to not offer any compensation at all for that work strikes me as insulting. As others have mentioned, it is one thing for a person to ask the artist's permission to use an already existing piece of work for a private (non-commercial) function e.g. D&D campaign, but it is something else entirely to ask that artist to create something entirely new for them without offering some form of payment. Likewise, it is one thing for an artist to voluntarily offer some of his work free of use to the public domain-I myself as a novice have tried to do that for fellow Gamers at my own Obsidian Portal (http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/tales-of-darkmoon-vale/wikis/navigation-buttons) site-and something entirely different for this to become an expectation of artists (regardless of how politely that expectation is expressed).

I also worry about the precedence that this sets. I agree Ravelles that there is no way of knowing for sure what the impact of taking on free commissions will be (it may in fact attract the attention of those willing to pay), but I have found that the world is full of moochers always looking for a free lunch. Hence, taking on free commissions might just attract more of the same kind of crowd. In writing this I should point out that I am neither a professional artist, nor do I currently plan on pursuing such a career. Nevertheless I feel that those that are part of this profession deserve to be treated with a bit more professional respect To those who cannot afford to pay what the artist's work is worth, I would recommend at the very least offering the fairest payment that you can afford. Also, just an aside, I do not mean to offend those who have volunteered their time and talents to create maps for others free of charge. You are all to be commended for your generosity. Like aZarea, I am more concerned with the attitudes of expectation that the recipients of your work may have.


P.S. And I think with that my conscious has finally won me over.

04-28-2010, 05:15 PM
Good on you, Arsheesh! Thanks for donating!

04-28-2010, 07:01 PM
I've done several free maps for folks on alternatehistory.com over the years, with returns that were, at best, diminishing. Once I did a couple free maps, word got around, and I got flooded with requests. A couple of years or so ago, I stopped doing 'em for free because I simply had no time to work on them, and people got all whiny and the requests dried up. Recently that has started to change as people discover my DA site and offer to pay. I've done a regional map for a guy in South Africa's RPG group, and he paid me very fairly for it. Since then I've done two more and have made (I think) a reasonable amount of money for them considering the time involved. I don't plan to become a professional artist (my goal is professional writer :D), and I do this pretty much strictly as a hobby. Having said that, it IS nice to have people approach me and offer to pay for what my services are worth.

04-29-2010, 11:50 AM
Also bear in mind that cash is not the only way to pay for something. Ravells & I collaborated on a project for blandine some time ago where I got paid with an original piece of music. I don't know if or how ravs was compensated, but I was quite happy with the arrangement.

If you happen to know that a requester has a skill you could make use of, you might ask if they're willing to trade favors.

It would be wonderful to raise the perceived value of fantasy cartography to the point where people could make some significant money from it. I have no idea what the real pros make, but I doubt it's anywhere close to what they're worth (in my opinion). Commercial artists in general tend to have this problem. "You love making art, so you should make my logo/poster/map for free! I'm doing you a favor!" Yeah, I like making art, but I'm also fond of eating.

Another issue to consider is that the artist has some degree of leverage in licensing. If no money or goods are changing hands, then the artist should retain copyright. If the map is used in a manner outside of the license granted to the client, then the artist can pursue damages. That is, if someone asks for a map for their personal RPG campaign then turns around and publishes it, the artist has recourse to get compensation after the fact.

You know, perhaps there should be a thread somewhere to talk about licensing and contract issues. We've touched on it a time or two in the past, but it would be nice to have a central resource.

04-29-2010, 12:01 PM
I think you've hit on some excellent points Midgard, and I would be curious to learn about licensing and contractual issues anyway, just so that I feel well informed. I will probably pursue looking into these issues on my own, but it would be helpful to have a thread posted on the matter.

04-29-2010, 01:24 PM
I was just looking around on DA and came across a tutorial about putting hidden watermarks on your art and how you can unlock the watermark if you ever need to prove it was a stolen piece. I couldn't figure out how to read the tutorial so I have no idea how to do this but it might be useful in certain situations like what Midgardsormr was talking about.

All in all, I'm still going to do the art even if I don't get paid for it. I would probably do MORE art if I was compensated in some way but I enjoy entering challenges here for a critique, a pat on the back and maybe an ata-boy badge. Even if I never make a dime I'll be at it as much as I can. In a way it reminds me of something Napoleon Bonaparte once said: "I've discovered something fascinating: Men will die for ribbons".

I also think it is part of our nature to want to share and help others. After all, "There is more happiness is giving than in receiving." Unfortunately, there are many in the world who take advantage of this so we find ourselves having conversations like the one we are having now.

Reality can be such a pain in the butt! <-- This is probably why half of us enjoy making maps of fantasy. :)

04-29-2010, 04:56 PM
Yeah, I like making art, but I'm also fond of eating.

-Rob A>

04-29-2010, 05:11 PM
There's a thread closer if ever I saw one. :D

04-30-2010, 01:02 PM
Yep, RobA wins the thread.

So here's something I've been wondering: The hobos around here salvage cardboard for their signs from garbage bins. But where do they get the Sharpies?

04-30-2010, 01:20 PM
Charcoal stick?

04-30-2010, 01:44 PM
Examine the color of the writing more closely. It may be more earth-tone than actually black.

Greason Wolfe
04-30-2010, 01:45 PM
Yep, RobA wins the thread.

So here's something I've been wondering: The hobos around here salvage cardboard for their signs from garbage bins. But where do they get the Sharpies?

If they're anything like a few of those I have to deal with on a daily basis . . . Those aren't sharpie markings and you don't want to know where they came from. On a more serious note, however, where one might find a cardboard bin, one will usually find a store of some sort. It's just a matter of convincing the staff of the store to let you use their sharpie.


04-30-2010, 09:04 PM
Late to the party, but as someone who's done an unpaid commission I don't see a problem with folks asking for them. It was an interesting project and the more I thought about it the more I wanted to give it a try. The requester probably got what he paid for (as I'm not nearly as talented as some) but it was fun. I'll more than likely end up doing a lot more of the unpaid work before I even think about applying for one of the paid commissions.

05-04-2010, 06:51 AM
I late here too... tried to reply when the thread was just started but ran in to some problems *lol* ... but now I'm back :)
So, I'll just put my 2 cents in here, or actually more like 1 cent with most of my points allready been made.
I don't see any problems with working for free if the project you're working on is non-commercial. I would be pleased to get compensation for work done for for instance a private rpg campaign, but since I would be doing it for kicks - the payment isn't important only nice :) .. a really nice pad on the back is nice too (or a ribbon *lol*). Concidering commercial jobs however, people should put some cool cash on the table, if they are going to make money, I should too :)
That been said, there are degrees of payment - I've worked on many projects in "hope" of getting payed when the project earned money (and many never did), The biggest project I think I put in about 400 hours worth before the whole thing crashed.. .to bad, but no hard feelings cause had it succeded I would have made a lot of money (and it was for family) - like playing on the stock market *lol*.
The only thing "bothering" me is when people dump their prices commercially. I see that a lot when I'm putting in an offer for creation of a logo or webpage and then some teenager (no offense) who's got a pirate version of photoshop, no rent to pay and probably no taxes either makes an offer for a quarter of what I did - thats anoying. Then you just have to tell yourself that the real professional clients also want a professional job and are willing to pay for it. :)
Anyway - thats my opinion :)

Aval Penworth
05-04-2010, 11:18 AM
Along the same lines...I was a professional photographer for 14 years before I moved into finance. If anyone asked me to do work for them it was either full price or gratis. The relationship does change when you start charging and whether you are charging $500 per hour or 50c you are still answerable to the brief. The person paying has an expectation (right or wrong) that you will fulfil that brief.

Personally I won't accept any payment for something unless it is on professional terms. i.e. full and reasonable compensation. Otherwise I do it as a favour. Buy me a few beers if you want but that is up to you.

Bottom line from my p.o.v. is when you ask payment for a job you take on the associated expectations and responsibilities and that is worth commensurate compensation.

05-06-2010, 12:20 AM
Along the same lines...I was a professional photographer for 14 years before I moved into finance. If anyone asked me to do work for them it was either full price or gratis. The relationship does change when you start charging and whether you are charging $500 per hour or 50c you are still answerable to the brief. The person paying has an expectation (right or wrong) that you will fulfil that brief.

Personally I won't accept any payment for something unless it is on professional terms. i.e. full and reasonable compensation. Otherwise I do it as a favour. Buy me a few beers if you want but that is up to you.

Bottom line from my p.o.v. is when you ask payment for a job you take on the associated expectations and responsibilities and that is worth commensurate compensation.

That hit a nerve. I have had to stop doing discount prices for customers in my business because it seems like (no joke) any time I do a deal for someone it comes whipping back around to bite me in the you know where. I have found that charging full price is the quickest way to keep a customer happy. I have no idea why but whatever the case what Aval said is good advice. It's hard to squeeze a good deed in and not get punished for it I guess.

Master TMO
05-21-2010, 05:53 PM
First off, fair warning, I am brand new to the fantasy mapping environment, so I have no personal experience with the market supply or demands. So please don't be upset if my post bears no relation to the reality of the situation. ;) I'm just throwing it out there so that folks who are familiar with the environment can kick it around some and maybe pick something useful out of it.

When I first started looking around for ways to get started with making maps, I envisioned possibly some day being able to make a little bit of money off of it, if it grows out of just being a hobby. What I pictured was a site where folks could download a map set I had created for a small amount - $1 to $5, depending on the size and detail of the map. Each download wouldn't net me much, but it could add up if a map becomes popular and multiple folks download it.

There is no reason that the idea can't be applied to multiple cartographers - a marketplace, as it were. Artists could upload their maps and descriptions, search keywords, etc, and the site could handle accepting and disbursing payment for a percentage, or it could just have links to Paypal, whatever. It could also be used as a way for those seeking a custom map to find an artist whose style they like and a way to contact them to request a commission.

It's got some issues - how do customers get a preview of the maps to see what they want to buy without accidentally giving the whole thing away? How do we determine those who download for personal use vs those who download to resell? (That one may be solvable through the licensing rights, I don't know) Will many folks just buy a map once and then forward copies to all friends who want it, thus denying the artist the multiple fees? Etc, etc, etc.

Hope this post is useful, and not just a noob blathering on about things he has no understanding of. ;)

05-22-2010, 01:42 AM
it is not blathering at all and the questions you raise are those all sellers of immaterial things/electronic wares have to concider. I've been having almost the same idea for some years, but haven't gotten any further than making a layout for the site and buying a domain. In Denmark we have a saying that translates to "many small streams make a big river", and I believe in that concept business wise also :)
Concidering previews - watermarks can make your map safe from downloading, no not 100% since you can with hard work erase a watermark in photoshop, but the low price should deter you from that.
Reselling shouldn't be allowed - ie, so if you see the map on sale some where someone is breaking the law. (period)
Yes, some people will print maps for their friends, but I'm guessing most wont since they probably play in the same group. (and one should also cater to peoples sense of morale ie. we can't sell at this low price if you don't pay). And there are other ways to ensure loyalty too ;)
But there will always be someone who will upload the map to some pirate site, its just a question of when... and thats probably few minutes after the first map is sold *sigh* which brings us back to morality :)

01-17-2011, 01:39 PM
Old thread but I recently say this post and had to add it here:

Designers, Should You Work for Free?
Short answer: hell #$%*ing no. (Unless it's for your mom.)

And a link to the flowchart: http://www.shouldiworkforfree.com/

-Rob A>

01-17-2011, 04:52 PM
hehe ... the chart screws up a little under the charity section - but funny :)

01-17-2011, 05:07 PM

01-17-2011, 09:36 PM
Hehe. Oddly enough, I was thinking about this thread this morning.

The thing that puts me off, (and I'm still new to making money on what I yet call my hobby), is when people ask for the work to be done for free but want commercial rights to it. That's like, "Hey, will you build me something nice that I can sell to make money?"

Umm, I don't think so. At least offer royalties or something....I mean seriously? Have the prior artists of the world just been stupid and screwed future generations? Is it just me because it seems there a malfunction in asking for work to sell while offering no compensation to the one who created it?

I feel that if you have plans to sell something commercially you should at least offer some royalty in case things pan out. Otherwise, if you really don't want to pay for it, do the artwork yourself.

01-18-2011, 08:24 PM
As a complete noob to doing any cartography for anyone but me. I tend to agree with you Jax. If your planning on going commercial than you should plan on the budget for the cartography. I enjoy helping people out and have only taken a couple of commissions to this point. Hopefully someday my skills will reach a point where I can feel comfortable taking money for my work.

01-19-2011, 06:29 AM
I like to help out people who want maps for their RPG games (it's my way of vicariously taking part!) in which case I retain copyright.. The guild is a friendly place and helping people out gives me a fuzzy glow which is payment enough. If it's something I can bash out quickly or a way of testing a new style I'm working on (might as well have the example map serve a purpose), I'll do it for free but I usually suggest a voluntary contribution to Arcana's costs of running the Guild by pressing the 'donate' button.

If it's something much bigger, but still for a personal RPG game (i.e. non-commercial), I'll charge a cheap rate (sometimes I sell the copyright, sometimes not).

If it's for commercial use I'll charge a more expensive rate, and usually sell the copyright to the map.

01-25-2011, 08:11 PM
That's a pretty useful flowchart, but neglects two important considerations:
(1) Is it something you were going to do anyway, just not necessarily to their specs? If you're practicing making a world map from a tutorial, and someone is asking for a map in that style, you're not giving up much by making it to a reasonable set of requests (and it might even save you some time coming up with names).
(2) Do you even money? Most of us do, but if you happen to be lucky enough to be born into the ranks of the idle rich, making free maps for people is probably a lot healthier (mentally and physically) a hobby than dressing up in a costume, equipping yourself with an arsenal of cool gadgets, and spending your nights dishing out vigilante justice.

01-26-2011, 01:08 AM
Yeah, the chart has some truth in it. And I realize the original query was slanted toward commercial requests. But for random citizens just asking nicely for a map, there's getting paid , then there's Getting Paid (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?13055-WIP-Zanannia-and-environs&p=141119&viewfull=1#post141119). Realistically I don't have time to get good enough for cash payment, but a good dose of that kind of appreciation is pretty good pay :-).