Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Minor bits of business

To the Anonymous Manufacturer who posted at great length in the comments section of my last post:

1. You're ugly, and your mother dresses you funny. (No, not really, not at all, but it's my second favorite bumper sticker ever, and I haven't even seen one like it since 1984, so feel warm and fuzzy in the knowledge that I'm resurrecting really *old* bad insults just for you. Don't you feel loved now? Yes! You should!)

2. We know who you are.

3. The reason your design team members are actively pursuing other opportunities is that they can't afford to be loyal to you. You don't pay them what they are worth. You are too greedy. If you want loyalty, I highly recommend you start behaving in such a way as to earn loyalty. And respect.

4. Please, I'm begging, ask your much-lauded professional graphic designer how much he would demand to start fulfilling the needs that are currently filled by your design team. Don't downplay their cumulative contributions. Tell him you need 20 layouts per month, 60 submissions to magazines per month, 200-500 positive word-of-mouth posts on four different message boards per month -- oh, and he needs to work hard to keep up with industry trends or at the very least set those trends himself. And he needs to have a recognizable name. And he needs to be free to travel for you four or five times a year. And he needs to... get the picture? Now ask him how much *that* will cost you. Do not underestimate the value of your design team's sizable impact on your advertising, your marketing, and your branding.

5. This bears repeating: You're greedy. There's nothing wrong with making a profit and building a business in the most economically efficient manner possible. It's quite another thing to run the scrapbooking industry's equivalent to a South Korean sweatshop. Just because you aren't the only manufacturer so bent on abusing, oppressing, and exploiting scrapbookers doesn't make you right to continue to do so once you've been informed you're infringing on human rights. C'mon, even Kathie Lee found a better production shop for her WalMart clothing line. And she had the good grace to at least act embarrassed.

To the Artists who are torn, who have filled my mailbox with laments that they see both sides and don't feel comfortable taking a stand on the issue:

I know. I know you do. I felt as you did. I understand why you're so torn. However, the argument "the industry won't change" isn't valid until we have *tried* to change the industry. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

Leggy Supermodel writes in anonymously:
"... Prostitutes will always be around because there will be someone with low enough self esteem that they need any kind of recognition they get. And some of them may be good at what they do. So any pimp (or manufacturer or publisher) can always find new hos. ... Good luck, Norma Rae, but I don't think this revolution is going to win. I wish it could, but you can't unionize everyone. Those talented scabs will undermine any such efforts."

I respond:
First of all, Leggy, I adore your metaphors. I've never been compared to Sally Fields in her young and skinny incarnation, and I always loved "Norma Rae." She did what she did because it was right. She wasn't the smartest person in the mill, she wasn't the purest soul in the neighborhood, but she recognized it when a Grand Truth smacked her in the forehead, and having once been enlightened, she could not live with herself if she did nothing.

But I refer you to the note to Artists above -- We might fail. We might. Then again, we might succeed in making the entire crafts industry more fair, more moral, and more humane than it has behaved to date. We cannot know if we will fail until we have tried. Just because it isn't easy to stand up to our oppressors doesn't make it any less necessary.

Final Thought of the Day:
I reiterate my pledge not to undermine my fellow artists. I will not accept payment that is one cent beneath a fair wage for my not-inconsiderable gifts, education, experience, expertise, and, hmmmmmm, fame. And this includes my writing assignments. I will no longer accept contracts and offers from people who don't treat artists fairly.

And I continue to urge other artists to make the same pledge, even as I understand why they don't. It's OK. I'm here to stand up for you even if you are not willing to stand up for yourself.

If only I had time to scan in my signature --

Bay Loftis


At 17/1/06 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The oppressive, slave-driver, anonymous manufacturer returns:

I’ll try not to clog your blog any more than absolutely necessary, but I did want to clarify a few things.

At no time, ever, did I say scrapbook designers should work for free. I said that “Pay should be commensurate with ability and experience.”

My only reason for dwelling on the graphic designer comparison was because Bay began that comparison in her initial post on 1/15.

A few thoughts concerning company loyalty. I agree wholeheartedly that if you are a freelancer, you have the right and privilege of being on as many DTs as you can handle. The loyalty issue comes into play when, for example, the designer tries to cram as many products as possible onto one layout/project with the sole purpose of receiving as many honorariums from as many manufacturers as possible. I’m sorry, but a 2” piece of patterned paper covered up with an embellishment and basically not even seen by the magazine reader (though noted in the supply list) should not qualify for P4P. Manufacturers want published layouts to feature their products, not make readers wonder what they are. I would venture to say that if you have a layout published that truly features a product or product line, that manufacturer would be happy to reward you handsomely. I know our company would. As for DT exclusivity, no, we would not expect that, except in the case of competing product lines. If our product line consists solely of rubber stamps, we would expect that our DT would not seek out other stamp companies to represent or to show competing products on the same layout. I don’t think that’s too much to expect.

In response to Bay’s 5 points to me today: none of this is true of me in particular. Other manufacturers, perhaps, but not me. You don’t know me, you don’t know how we run our business. Speaking in generalities about some manufacturers, perhaps. But it’s not me. Especially the greedy part. If you only knew how many hours I put into my company vs the paycheck in return, you could never call me greedy.

And I agree: designers should be paid what they’re worth. My point in my initial post was simply (though evidently lost in the text) that not all designers are worth the same amount.

At 17/1/06 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you know Bay, as a manufacturer I read this with such a bad taste in my mouth. I am in awe that you believe that name calling and mud throwing would earn the kind of respect you think designers deserve. Honestly, I think you have done designers a real deservice by the responses you've given to the anon manufacturer. If you want a real, honest talk with someone about designers treatment within the industry I'm all ears, but it has to be done without name calling. poor form, enough said.


Post a Comment

<< Home