I’ve been doing more art and art trades lately but been having a hard time getting trades as well as getting ripped off from doing art trades a part of me feels I've wasted time doing some of them with nothing in return despite the fact I been putting as much effort into them as I can. Like one guy I traded with recently I posted my end of the trade and he won't even acknowledge it.
But what should I do to get a successful art trade if I keep getting burned all the time?
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One thing that is great about the furry fandom is how relaxed and informal it is. That’s super when it comes to things like socializing, going to furmeets and so on. But when it comes to the business world it just doesn’t work. Gone are the days when a promise and a hand shake sealed the deal, and that applies not only in the furry world. But, as my mate has discovered the hard way in his business, there is really no honor in American business today. There are no gentlemen on Wall Street. In the furry world, I must admit, getting treated poorly while doing an art trade is also not uncommon.
If you wish to get a square deal on a trade or purchase, you must treat your work as an artist as you would a business. In other words, be professional about it. If you wish to be paid for your art, get the money up front. If you wish to do a trade (especially if you don’t know the other person), draw up a simple contract and either get a real signature or a digital signature. Such contracts don’t have to be elaborate.
A legal contract can be as simple as writing down something like this: “I, Alpha Wolf (real name, Sally Rogers), agree to create an 8” x 10” colored and shaded drawing of a saber-toothed anthro cat in a spacesuit holding a laser gun with a galaxy background in exchange for Omega Otter (real name, John Smith) drawing me an 8” x 10” colored and shaded drawing of my Wolf Fursona wearing a Robin Hood outfit. Both pieces of art will be completed by no later than June 10, 2014, and delivered to the commissioner via electronic email and in jpeg format at 300 dpi resolution. Should either or both artists fail to deliver the above-mentioned art on time, in the proper format, and in an acceptable quality of workmanship, this contract will be considered null and void.”
That's just off the cuff, but you get the idea. To make things easier should you do a lot of trades, create a template with all the information included except the artist's name and the type of drawing. Then fill in the blanks as needed.
Should they ask why they should sign, tell them you’ve been screwed over in the past and you are just taking steps to not let it happen again. Should the other artist refuse to sign, then you don’t want to be dealing with him or her. If they do sign, then you’re covered, and if there’s any question in the future about who did what for whom, you can show people the contract.
Is this stupid? You bet it is, but we live in a society with so many stupid, dishonest, and just plain mean people that we are forced to do stupid things like write lame contracts to cover our fuzzy butts so we don’t keep getting taken advantage of. It’s the same reason why we have labels on hair dryers saying “Don’t operate hair dryer in the shower” because, even though the majority of people will do the right thing, there are enough idiots out there to make us all look like imbeciles.
There are a lot of furry artists who do not need reciprocation of any kind. They simply enjoy drawing and give their art out freely, not caring how much it is shared and reposted and, indeed, find this flattering when people do so. But for those of you who want to feel more validated or wish to actually make an income (or supplemental income) from your art, then you need to take the endeavor seriously and learn proper business practices.
Good luck with your future artistic endeavors!
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