Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Death of Illustration

Speaking of qualified clients, how about fair pay for fair use?

In an interview for Design Arts Daily, Kelly Doe, the Art Director for the New York Times discussed the future of publishing with Fernanda Cohen, a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts, Vice President of ICON6, and lecture coordinator at the Society of Illustrators of New York, and they had this very depressing exchange (extremely depressing bit is in blue).

Fernanda Cohen: What’s happening with the NYT online vs. print—and how is illustration being commissioned and used for both media?

Kelly Doe: At this point the paper is fully integrated–everything is uploaded for the web first and then collected and shaped for the print edition. Each section of the Times is staffed for both print and web, and the multi-media, video and graphics departments communicate with all editorial and art departments.

FC: How is illustration being commissioned for both media?

KD: Illustrations are commissioned by the art director for each section, but the web art directors commission art for the blogs and some online-only features. Online-only illustrations (in blogs, features, video, and more) have limitless potential that we are just starting to explore.

FC: Do you think publications are using less illustration because of the online market? If so, why?

KD: Publications are using less illustration because they have fewer ads, therefore smaller budgets. There is a trend towards using stock photography because it’s ultra-cheap.

FC: Do you think the value of illustration, fee wise, has lowered because of online usage—or the lack of it? Do you think the quality of illustration has lowered because of these same reasons?

KD: Fees have lowered for several reasons. There are now typically two uses (web and print) for the price of one. Some publications now demand ownership of the art instead of one-time use (so no future sales for the illustrator), and lower budgets can mean less pay per illustration. Fortunately, the quality of the work has not lowered. Amazing things are happening, and in a much more diverse range of media.

As one colleague put it to me after reading this:
"Illustration is dead... long live stock photography."


Beth Tondreau said...

The unkindest cut of all: "Fortunately, the quality of thw ork has not lowered."

Cheers (and tears) for the professional behavior of illustrators.

There's nothing like the human hand—even if it's guiding a mouse or a pen on a Wacom tablet. I write humbly, as one whose "hands aren't up to it" according to an adored (and correct) first boss.

Suzanne Dell'Orto said...

Exactly. The only thing that's lower is their fee! A writer colleague of mine said the same about print and web...magazines want to run stories indefinitely online and they don't want to pay any royalties for it.