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Thread: How can anybody ask for an unpaid map?

  1. #11
      Jaxilon is offline
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    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 had a point on Crowdsourcing 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.
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  2. #12
      Redrobes is offline
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    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.

  3. #13
      Djekspek is offline
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    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

    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.


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  5. #15
      a2area is offline
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    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.

  6. #16
      torstan is offline
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    Yep. There's a whole section on conceptArt for unpaid requests.
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  7. #17
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Default Is there a career in fantasy cartography?

    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.

    GP

    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.
    Last edited by Gamerprinter; 04-27-2010 at 12:24 AM.
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  8. #18
      ravells is offline
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    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.

  9. #19
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    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.

    GP
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  10. #20
      silverhead is offline
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    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.

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