May 18, 2021: I just love this quote. I had it in a previous entry, but I keep thinking about it because It’s what I used to discuss with my students a lot. We all get excited when someone likes what we did and offers you money for it, or sends you a contract. But the deals have gotten worse over the years, and illustrators are getting paid less than I was in the 80’s, and part of it is everyone saying “yes” to anything being offered. Whenever I entered into a situation where I could take it or leave it, I always came out ahead. I walked away from Rocko several times, and my deal ended up better for it, and I still receive great royalties 25 years later. But the key to being able to “take it or leave it” is to keep your expenses low, put away the credit cards, and don’t put yourself into a situation of “I need to take this or I’m in deep shit”. You have the power to stay out of those situations.
But the flip side to it, is what if you have a family to support? ( which I did and have now in the Lazlo and Luna negotiations). It’s harder, because there are other people involved. Especially when I had a lot of hospital bills for my son when he was a baby with health issues. In fact, I dropped my projects and went on a job hunt that was demoralizing and eye opening because I had those bills to pay. ( In hind sight it was a good thing I didn’t get those jobs. It left me open to be a stay at home Dad for my son, which was the most important job).
The things to consider when you are getting offered something is: Whats in it for them? What could my project be potentially worth to them? Am I doing this for bragging rights? Power trip? Ego? To hire my friends? To be liked? Or the biggest illusion “To be loved”. If it’s for job security later on, I can tell you ( and many other former show creators) that it makes no difference in getting hired on another job. In fact at times it can be a hindrance. But what does your gut tell you about this company and this job? Say no if it doesn’t feel right. Walk away. Or ask for considerations that would make it right for you, and if it’s not agreed to, then walk away. And also realize that most projects will only be for a short time. We are all just sparks coming from a fire.
My first wife was very supportive of my choices to walk away if it wasn’t right. “Fuck ’em” is what she used to say. She never said “But honey, we could get a bigger house”. Thats all ego stuff anyway. But keep your soul. Don’t sell it for cheap. Know your worth. It’s a lot more than you think. If you have something they really want, they will barter with you. If they are not that crazy about it and just want to see if they can throw a nickel your way and get it, then it’s not the right place for you. Watch for signs. Trust your gut. Don’t fool yourself or rationalize why you will allow this big conglomerate to use you as a cheap tool because your artistic ego needs stroking. Wake up. Stand up.