My problematic freelance art customer

So I’m an artist who occasionally creates animation.

Recently I received a message through the website DeviantArt from someone asking if he could commission me to create a short animation for him, with the general premise of - cartoon tiger walks through the jungle, is a jerk to a squirrel in the tree, who then leads the tiger into a quicksand pit for retribution. This was just for personal use, not for any larger project of his. My initial thought was that this guy didn’t know how much such a project would cost him (animation takes a lot of time and effort), so I told him. Even though he was surprised, he was still willing to pay it, saying cheerfully that he was about to start a paid internship and would have enough money pretty soon. That caught me off guard a little, because why would a young twenty-something without a current job want to drop over a grand on a random artist commission? But hey, I reasoned, it’s not my job to tell people how to manage their money. Plus I need all the work I can get.

I got the project started and sent him a couple initial character/concept designs, but then I finally gave the guy’s DeviantArt account a proper look. Browsing through his favorites, it became obvious he had a fetish for characters sinking into mud, quicksand, etc. I asked him about it, and he confirmed. Welp, that explained a few things.

I know there’s been a bit of back-and-forth here on this forum about the morality of fetishes and strange fixations. Technically the guy wasn’t asking me to draw anything overtly sexual, or anything that hasn’t already appeared in hundreds of cartoons and films. Just something that happened to contain an element that he found arousing. If I hadn’t discovered this about him, I would never have known the difference. And yet, even if no one else could tell, it would still have been created specifically to be fetish art.

Ultimately, I decided I wasn’t comfortable continuing, in part due to my own, er, personal experiences with such fetishes. But I was curious as to what other people here thought. What would you have done if you were in my situation? What is my moral responsibility regarding how my artwork is used?

I think it’s related to the aspect of modesty that says don’t tempt others but you are not responsible if they’re not within the bounds of normalcy. IOW, if someone asked you to draw something most people would’ve affected by (nudity, etc), one would not do that. But an artist cannot avoid drawing altogether because someone had immoral interests.

OTOH, having discovered this thing about this client, I don’t blame you for declining!

You acted with charity and love toward your customer, and with respect toward your own artistic gifts.

This doesn’t mean that you always have to investigate your customers. It does mean that if you feel like there is something weird, you pay attention to that feeling. (It’s a lot more likely that you’ll run into scammers or people trying to get art without paying for it.)

In general, you are not responsible for how your art is used. And heck, 99.9999% of the time, there won’t be any problem. You ran into the .0001%.

Communication. Find the right words to communicate the fact that you have limits regarding certain things. It’s not out of line to ask where the art will appear or how it will be used. My company works with freelance artists all the time. However, most freelance artists are not very good, and I mean this respectfully, with the business side of things.

Second, if you want to be a freelancer then ‘not getting as much work as you want’ comes with the territory. I only know a handful of freelancers who do any kind of art full-time. The majority have a day job as well. It’s a commitment.

So, once you find out how your art will be used, you decide. And get the word out there about yourself. DeviantArt is not the only game in town. There’s elance (also called upwork) for one.

Books are good:

amazon.com/Childrens-Writers-Illustrators-Market-2016/dp/1599639432/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464015405&sr=1-3&keywords=writer%27s+market+guide

amazon.com/2016-Artists-Graphic-Designers-Market/dp/144034261X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464015499&sr=1-1&keywords=artist%27s+market+guide

Again, politely asking questions is OK. I know, real-time, how long it takes to do animation.

Ed

The name DeviantArt should have given you a clue.:wink:

Are you saying he uses these videos of animated animals sinking into quicksand/mud in a sexual way?
When you say he has a fetish for it, do you mean a* sexual *fetish?

.

Thanks for your responses. :slight_smile:

[quote="edwest2]Second, if you want to be a freelancer then ‘not getting as much work as you want’ comes with the territory. I only know a handful of freelancers who do any kind of art full-time. The majority have a day job as well. It’s a commitment.
[/quote]

Thank you for the concern! I do have a full-time job in addition.

Hahah! Despite the name, that’s not the main reputation of the site. Still, it’s essentially a social media site for artists, so it does gather all sorts of people.

[quote=Daddygirl]Are you saying he uses these videos of animated animals sinking into quicksand/mud in a sexual way?
When you say he has a fetish for it, do you mean a sexual fetish?
[/quote]

Yep, that is what I meant.

All I can add is that those who keep at it get better and gradually develop new contacts and work possibilities. I sometimes tell freelancers to contact the companies/publishers they would like to work for.

Best,
Ed

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