25th January – I am up early, at 7.30am. At the Birkbeck Library I dedicate my day to the production of this play.
I post a request for a graphic designer on Twitter and Facebook:
By 7.30pm the proposal has been sent to three volunteer friends who are looking over it now. It turns out I need an illustrator and we will sort that out, too. The proposal consists of a lengthy email which just makes me more confused than anything. But the people reading it manage to make something out of it and each come back with a sort of response.
They have offered their work at no cost, despite the fact that I said it is paid work. I think about it and make no action, nor mention anything about compensation. Am I becoming one of the bad guys?
Meanwhile I sort out this website and the Facebook page. This requires some internet research on pictures and content I can use without getting stuck in legal backfires (the best I can do is cite the source and offer a link to the artist’ page and only take stuff that is not clearly protected by copyright). I hammer my Facebook friends with a request of liking the FB page and I set up the blog so that any new post gets volleyballed to both my Twitter account and the Facebook page.
I eat a bunch of blueberries and make myself two prosciutto sandwiches when I get home at 10pm. This has been a good day.
26th January – Thanks to Matt’s recommendation, I email the Artistic Director of The Hen & Chickens Theatre here in Islington proposing a meeting over a coffee. I also email our proposal to The Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham.
I post a request for an illustrator on both Twitter and Facebook:
I play around with the website trying to make the blog more visible – to no avail. Meanwhile the three friends plus Clare Corfield Carr fire off some questions. One of them, my friend Bruce, poses a very important question: should I let them know who am I going for before they embark on the quest?
The question is legitimate and poses rightful terms on what is classified as work. And everything is work, art is work, whether we love it or not. Passion never bought a loaf of bread – a thank you won’t even allow you in the shop.
The art industry is fueled by passion; we are stuck in this endless circle of unpaid work because nobody has money and nobody gives money because everyone knows that it can be done for free. The point of The Lettuce Dream Theatre Company – and its future branches – is exactly this: putting an end to the circle, by paying and getting paid. Peanuts, granted, but something.
So, I do what I believe is the right thing to do.
I put my three graphic designer friends and Clare the illustrator – whom I see also does graphic design – in the same email and I clarify, with transparency and honesty, the same identical terms of payment and conditions for all of them. For them to decide on whether to accept the terms or walk away.
I recap on the requirements and I announce the following terms of payment (spoiler alert, I am declaring here in writing and with numbers):
- By taking upon the challenge and offering me one or two first proposals for free they all get (2) free tickets to one of the performances.
- A single payment of £25.00 for either the logo design or the poster design, or a single payment of £50.00 for both the logo design and the poster design will be given out upon request (and receipt) of any number of revisions. This means that I won’t be paying for each revision, and the revisions may be endless, they will only get one anticipated payment of either £25.00 or £50.00.
- A final payment of £100.00 for either the logo design or the poster design, or a final payment of £200.00 for both, will be given out only in the eventuality that the design is in fact used. By design we mean it all. Base illustration, pagination, digital file ready for websites and print.
- An additional payment of £25.00 may be given out in the likely eventuality of amendments to the poster design following our London run, to prepare for Edinburgh.
I don’t consider my terms of payment matching the industry. The cost of a logo may go anywhere from £700.00 above. I am just meeting half-way with everyone who decides to help out with this project, with the hope that the fruits of our collective work will bring us to a higher budget for future productions.
Every time you ask for a discount or try to get a deal on something you are depreciating the work behind it. The cost of life has gone up for you, your company, your enterprise, as well as your supplier’s and vendor’s. I am conscious of being partly participating to it, but my first step towards a better art industry is not asking for free work and allocating money for everyone who participates.
Acknowledgements and Thanks
Bruce Coker is a many-skilled man. A navigated writer – you can have a taste of his work on his website – and a freelance graphic designer. He worked with me in 2015 on a poetry anthology, 45 Square, taking care of the pagination of both the e-journal and the printed journal. (The artwork for the cover was work of Max McLaughlin, whom I am actually considering for my third play, still in the making, “What Happens to the Chickens”. I should probably let him know…) Bruce also works for Pictures on Wheels, a company that moves artwork and fragile items anywhere in the UK and Europe.
Walter Jones is a freelance graphic designer and a wonderful poet. The man does not currently have a website or an Instagram account as far as I know, which upsets me as I would love to give him some exposure. His work is detailed and careful. He is sensitive without being overbearing. Quite a catch, if you ask me! Curiously, his poems were also featured in 45 Square; jump to page 9 of the e-journal to have a look at his work as poet.