Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bird Family Illustration and an Important Lesson

A year ago I designed this illustration of a family of birds for some people who wanted to wear it on t-shirts for a family gathering. At the time, I regularly drew things for my Cafepress store, so I figured this would be a great opportunity. The whole thing fell through, since the people never contacted me again after my initial sketches, but I liked this enough to finish it.

Looking back, I should have realized that things wouldn't have worked out. I heard about the job through someone else (person A), who insisted that the people were fine to work with. Not being particularly business-savvy as far as commissions went, I figured it would be ok since person A was vouching for them. When said people emailed me, there was only a subject line, and nothing more. Imagine getting an email called (hypothetically) T-shirts. You open it up, and there's nothing else written. What are you supposed to do with that!? That's not useful at all. The people managed to tell person A what they wanted, and person A then telephoned that information to me, but it was such a convoluted way of doing things. Argh.

I finished the sketching and some inital colors based on what Person A relayed to me, and then I emailed the potential clients. I sent them a link to a Cafepress shop so they could see the design on the shirts, as well as the pricing. I mentioned that I would be willing to offer them a discount if they were buying more than X number of shirts. I also let them know that I would be willing to change the colors, posing, etc. of the illustration. Since each character was drawn individually and then placed together, any changes would have been simple to make.

After sending that email, I never heard from them again. I have no idea if they even had the reunion. Maybe they dropped the idea after seeing the pricing. Maybe they decided to put some Sharpies on white t-shirts and call it a day. Person A never mentioned it, and I didn't feel like bringing it up, so I guess I'll never know the truth. I can look back on this as a learning experience now, but I wasn't so happy about it back then. I guess that's where the saying "live and learn" comes in.


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