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Old 25-02-2012, 03:16 PM   #1
wyldflowa
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Default Friends and Contacts

The comics and illustration industry is one where who you know can be a more important deciding factor on your success than what you know.

I've spoken to a few people about this in the past and it's sparked some heated debates. I'm curious to know what the wider opinion is on this subject.

Where does the line lie between a friend and a contact for you? Would you add a contact onto your social networks for example? Have you ever had someone you met and put firmly onto your list of "contacts" who became a good friend or vise versa? Have you ever been sweet to someone you dislike or disagree with only because it could be considered professional suicide to be in their bad books? Have you yourself been used by someone to get in touch with your contacts?

How do you feel about "contacts" in general? Are they a legitimate way to climb up the ladder of success or do you feel that people should be judged upon their skill rather than their name being mentioned to the right person at the right time?
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Old 25-02-2012, 04:57 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by wyldflowa View Post
How do you feel about "contacts" in general? Are they a legitimate way to climb up the ladder of success or do you feel that people should be judged upon their skill rather than their name being mentioned to the right person at the right time?


You tell everyone about what you do starting with your friends and family usually. You build up your contacts this way, it's not just the art world that does it this way, any self employed person will need to be pro-active in finding work.

I'm a fan of meritocracy in general, however you can be as skilled as you like if you don't advertise you're not going to get the work.

There may be a higher risk of nepotism doing it this way but if the person is good at what they do why deny them the chance just because we know them?


I think it's a measure of friendship when you're willing to help them by putting a good word in for them. Ultimately it's still down to the client no matter what the third part tells them about their friend.

Is using your contact base to generate business legitimate?

Yes, I believe it is. It's how every business on earth got off the ground, it's how most things got off the ground. Use ones network.

Quote:
Where does the line lie between a friend and a contact for you?
Why deny yourself opportunities when you could make a friend for life?

If you like someone and they like you you're not going to keep them at arms length. Some people you're maybe better off keeping just for work.

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Have you ever been sweet to someone you dislike or disagree with only because it could be considered professional suicide to be in their bad books?
Choices?

How bad will it hurt if you piss them off?

To be honest if someone is as malicious as to threaten to hurt someones career prospects are they really worth dealing with?

If you can afford to stay away from such scenarios then do so.

On the other hand is it fair to treat a rich powerful boss any differently just because they're rich and powerful, they might be reasonable people themselves and let you be yourself. The chances are they didn't become so powerful though being a dick, especially those who made themselves.
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Old 25-02-2012, 10:23 PM   #3
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I guess this topic relates more to people who have built a career out of their work as opposed to someone at the bottom of the ladder. The again, it just might be that attitude that's stopping me from climbing it. I don't talk to fellow artists with the idea of opportunities in mind, but yeah that's just me fooling myself as I tend to ignore/avoid the cliques as best I can. A lot of people are quite buddy-buddy - without being too cynical (which I always am) I can only guess at their true intentions.

I've printed two anthologies off my own back, in which I held a certain amount of editorial control. The central reason for me producing them was simply because no one else would, so the idea of me turning anyone away to satisfy my own terms would be hypocrisy. XD

I haven't exactly got a much of a career I could damage to be honest, so I just let things happen and try and be positive about it. Sucking up isn't my thing though, even if someone's talking to me as though they expect it of me.

Essentially I have a couple of friends and no contacts. I'm doing it wrong!

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Old 25-02-2012, 11:26 PM   #4
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I wouldn't really say there's much distinction for me. I have lovely comics friends, who when I first met them were People In Comics/Illustration as a broader category - contacts, potential acquaintances, potential friends. When you meet anyone in your field meeting them is relevent, even if when you first meet you don't know if they'll stay as a contact/acquaintance you don't really know, or become a friend.

And friends don't cease to be contacts, in fact they're more likely to have a good idea of your work, and if they know you're reliable, may pass your details on to people. But of course, if the idea of them doing this was all that made you act friendly in the first place, it's not too likely to go anywhere! :P
There may be times when I may want to ask friends for advice, perhaps a contact, or for people to maybe keep me in mind if I'm looking for work - but I try to make those occasions few and far between because I don't want my friends to feel put on the spot or used.

I think it's good to be intentional simply about getting to know people - and having people get to know you - as much as possible. That puts you in a position where those contacts do end up bringing you work, but in an organic and sometimes surprising way. At times you may be intentional about the *type* of people you want to get to know more of - writers, editors, etc - but I think the same things apply. Just meet/chat/be friendly and visible, end of.
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Old 26-02-2012, 01:54 AM   #5
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I think of this from time to time.

Too be honest I think that what's Gecko-chan is pointing is true, and you can never (or at least most people) can't know who's going to be a friend or a formal contact. Let's go with your idea about how well you hit it off. With Wayne's idea of fraternizing with big bosses with powa

I don't think Ushio-san's got it wrong about feeling he has no contacts and only friends; Sometimes to be at the utmost top requires a lot of self-denial and you're gonna need friends or at least allies, or this comicking path because a dreadfully empty one, full of empty alpha-male/female drives

Personally I feel that ultimately a true friend in a comicking or even non-comicking sense is something who you can truly share your complete thoughts with, without the friendship getting killed off as a result, sometimes inventively we do have to show restraint or else that would be an extremity, as bad perhaps as sucking up.
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Old 26-02-2012, 02:13 AM   #6
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I consider everyone I know on here, and at expos etc as friends...if I have conversed with them/met them on a few occasions. Because I would find it hard to talk to people on a friendly casual basis if they were not a friend. Maybe they started off as contacts, but really I wouldn't have introduced myself if I couldn't see ourselves being friendly. But I will always give everyone a chance, have a chat or something. If nothing comes from it then its not a problem for me, it just wasn't meant to be! =P

People I have met, maybe, via these friends have been contacts, and then this may turn into a friendship if I can chat to them easily. For example, my emails are quite formal when I email them for the first time. If the contact continues I become slightly more relaxed and soon it becomes quite casual. Although this does depend on the context really...but I try to write non-aggressively.

I suppose if you call my friends contacts, so be it. But really getting information from them is like getting information from family and such. People who care will let you know of things because they know it interests you and surely they will always help out wherever. I like to consider everyone I know here and at expos friends...although you may think differently...! =P
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Old 26-02-2012, 03:11 AM   #7
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I consider everyone I know on here, and at expos etc as friends...
That's a sensible way to look at things. I'd like to think we're all friends here.

Take this another dimension to the puzzle. Everyone here perhaps are friends. Unlike say road haulage, there isn't really a competition. By that I mean you have to compete in order to get anything, and it's usually cut throat and all about money. Skill is irrelevant, like or dislike is also irrelevant. Can you do it cheaper?

You could be evil, you'll still get the job if you're cheap. Because that's all that matters.

When looking for haulage you look to whoever is cheapest. Whoever is cheapest depends on who can cut (even fiddle) costs the most. The cheaper the transport, the cheaper the price of the end product. As long as the stuff get's where it's supposed to be. Contacts will not serve you unless they get you cheaper maintenance for example or better haulage rates.

This kind of contact is rare.

With comics and art, it's more a case of can they deliver what you need?

These needs tend to be more emotional rather than financial though that obviously does play a part given how tight arse some clients can be, often expecting free work for little more than exposure. THAT's what your contacts are for, exposure. You take their exposure and generate revenue.

We don't tend to consume intellectual property by whoever can provide the cheapest product. We tend to buy whatever floats our boat so to speak. With comics and films you could say that, monetary price is irrelevant.

You can argue money does play a part else there would be no piracy, but when we pay we don't pick and choose according to price only by what captivates us. Good art has it's monetary price, it's emotional price is more important though.

Even when you get stuff for nothing, if it's shit you won't bother looking at it even if it is free.

That's basically what I think; when it comes to art the best stuff strikes a chord within you whatever it costs.
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Old 26-02-2012, 03:11 PM   #8
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I link/friend/accept whatever if they are a friend, or a contact ^^ As my hobbies and my career are quite closely linked, I don't make any differentiation between them formally. For me, this makes it much less of a headache

There are just a few close friends and family whom I tell more personal stuff to or visit/actually hang out with, but isn't that true of everyone?
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Old 26-02-2012, 05:40 PM   #9
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@Sonia
For me it's almost the opposite, I'm quite protective of my privacy so I'm always wary when I get a friend request with whom I have no mutual friends aside from 1 or 2 in the manga scene (you're usually one of them ). I don't like the thought of being added as a contact to someone's 'collection', when I've never had any personal or online interaction with them whatsoever.

I feel the whole system of building contacts is based on mutual trust and respect. If you have the time and circumstances to become close personal friends with someone then that's fantastic. But in cases of people you can't have regular contact with, it's more about maintaining a respectful mutual awareness that you both have the capacity (and willingness) to help the other out.

It sounds obvious but there's no sense in trying to make 'contacts' if you have nothing to offer in return. And before I get slated for being harsh, what you have to offer is in no way limited to artistic skill or professional experience. Just by being friendly, helpful or reliable with deadlines, is sufficient to connect with another person, who will then consider you part of their network.

I say this because I sometimes see artists having a tough time in the industry, when it's obvious from an outsider's perspective that they're not proactively doing anything to win people's trusts. Simply having a great portfolio doesn't mean everyone will be beating a path to your door (and getting indignant about this fact means even less people will be keen on working with you).

Quote:
How do you feel about "contacts" in general? Are they a legitimate way to climb up the ladder of success or do you feel that people should be judged upon their skill rather than their name being mentioned to the right person at the right time?
In an idealistic world, of course everyone would be judged by their personal determination and skill level. But I think it's naive to assume that talent is the only thing you need to succeed, particularly in the creative industry. Here, more than anywhere, is a murky field where every single job requires some form of inside contact/knowledge. When was the last time an amazing commission was posted publicly with a public invitation to apply XD? Even the opportunity to pitch is usually only given to a few pre-selected candidates.
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Old 28-02-2012, 05:02 PM   #10
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I think networking is part of a professional artist's job. You put effort into it, so you deserve to gain opportunities from it, up to a point: I think the value of one's skill should always be greater than the value of one's contacts.

I divide people strictly into close friends, and everybody else. Friends can be contacts, but contacts are not friends. Instead I work with contacts on a basis of respect; if they do good things then they deserve friendly treatment. That includes doing favours for people doing me favours, as long as that doesn't gain anyone an unfair advantage in direct competition.

I have acted friendly towards some contacts I disliked because they were e.g. organisers of a comic fair, and I was representing some artists at the time. Afterwards the artists told me they wouldn't have minded if I'd thrown down the gauntlet and committed professional genocide
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Old 29-02-2012, 12:33 PM   #11
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@Joanna

I think it's to do with the way I operate - as a self-employed freelancer, I am my own "brand" and everything I do in public is part of that brand, so it doesn't matter to me who sees.

This requires a few practises/restrictions:
that I always look my best at all times outside my own door (no embarrassing photos);
that I must always be diplomatic with everything in writing (no excessive swearing, no inflammatory statements);
and keep silent about personal stuff (I don't talk about family/friends aside from amusing anecdotes, I never talk about my personal problems).

Essentially - imagine anything you're seen in or anything you've said in public or online, potentially being printed in the newspapers.

It's not for everyone, whether it's because you prefer to share more of yourself on social sites, or whether it's due to your job and your hobbies needing to kept very separate. It's sad that I can't share certain things with some people, but I'd prefer to keep those things totally private than to risk anything leaking out. There are only a few people who get to see my private side, and that is hardly ever posted online (but if it is, it is in locked, secure places or individually addressed messages/emails).

So I treat my linkedin, facebook, twitter and tumblr with the same level of privacy throughout - to keep in touch with people, but also as a marketing tool. My art and events and work stuff will always get mentioned, but anything fun/cool/glam from my social life (within limits as above) is up for people to see, as it keeps them interested in me, it helps to create a unique selling point if they like me as a person, not just as an artist.

With contact etiquette in general - I am very happy to pass jobs onto others so long as it's not for me/I can't fulfil it. But yes, there is a hierarchy in my mind about who gets first dibs at it. All my contacts can advance up this hierarchy if they impress me.

When I want a new contact, I do always feel better if I am introduced to them via someone we both know, through email or at an event. And the moment I meet someone who could potentially help me, the first thing I do is to point out the ways I could help them! Why on earth wouldn't you? After that, it's cool to follow up on social sites, and always with a personal message to remind them of where we met.

As much as skill should be the number one thing that determines whether you get a job or not (and it is, in a way, as I may know and like you, but if you can't do the job, you're not getting it) - a recommendation is a very strong thing.

It's like finding a recommended plumber - gold dust!
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Old 29-02-2012, 02:29 PM   #12
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I don't have much distinction between friends and contacts either, really.
I've only just began to realise how helpful it can be to be friends with people in the industry- but they're friends/people whose company I enjoy, or people I enjoy geeking out with at conventions, rather then people I'm talking to solely for hoping to get job offers! But then most of the jobs I've had so far have been ones I've taken on for the sake of enjoyment rather then for money too

I admit I am deterred a bit by people who are quite obviously only talking to you because they want personal gain out of it.
I've never come across it in the comic world- but I recall some random person on deviantart who asked me to draw them a picture of one of their characters. From the time I started drawing it to the time I finished they were constantly commenting on my work/talking to me. But after I had finished the image they stopped completely. It was obvious that they were only making freinds with me briefly so that I could hurry along with their image request, its hard to know how to approach someone who does this
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:33 AM   #13
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All friends are potential contacts, not all contacts are potential friends.

Please, Spoonbard, make us a few contacts/friends Venn diagrams, immediately!
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:38 PM   #14
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Once I considered anyone I met at a con who wrote/drew comics a mate after speaking to them a few times casually, because it was like gold dust to find people to grow up with who liked the same hobbies as me. Coming from a hobby angle, to seed into pro art growth (and also still keep aspects of art as a hobby), the worlds collide. I've had people seen first as friends then got sideblinded by their motives. It is hurtful, but hey - to err is human. Live and learn.

I appreciate it if people only want to be a colleague, then they represent themself as such, and help out with work, they are reliable, etc. If people want to be a mate and get wasted over comics chat, this is also good And of course both can be achieved harmoniously!

The bottom line for such relationships I think, is don't be a user, don't grab at anything that is not directly yours, don't take stuff from anything without contributing first. Give people the time they deserve. Offer opportunities and host get-togethers, anthologies and share tables!

Respect people as mates, not sources of income - at least not directly! Don't post stuff in front of others to rock friendship boats; email privately. Offer services, let people come to you, don't foist yourself in front of others. Respect roots, context, would people be pissed off..? Don't outright ditch people on Facebook when you could just unsubscribe from their posts. Stuff like that.

I also find it sad that once good friends just... well, go away. Not arrange any evenings or go to cons any more. People move on I suppose, but me, I come from the angle that comics were the tie that kept likeminds together. It seems that pro is equidistant to distance. It is nice to keep in touch with your networks. People are busy, but aren't we all? (I did another 11-hour day at work, with no sign of it changing. I still try to check my mates' Twitter feed and stuff. Maybe I just haz mad balancing skillz.) I find it just kinda sucks. Friendships get frozen into lumps of social media pro contacts. Is that right?

John Aggs once posted, don't be a dick. It still rings true. The scene is too small. Illustration/comics/games/freelance/art/craft, these areas will continue to cross over.

I agree with Sonia! Give what you can, first! Karma!
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:16 AM   #15
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My art and events and work stuff will always get mentioned, but anything fun/cool/glam from my social life (within limits as above) is up for people to see, as it keeps them interested in me, it helps to create a unique selling point if they like me as a person, not just as an artist.
That's a good point...artists are effectively their own brand, and with so much competition in the market it's often an advantage to 'give' the audience a bit more than what others might offer. Back in my teenage fangirly days my favourite artists were mostly those with a high personal presence. When I admired someone's art, I was even more keen on knowing more about them...like how they look like, what they do in their free time, what pets they have . And the artists who would post this on their blogs felt 'closer' than the ones who just produce art but keep their personal lives totally hidden.

I have to admit in my own case, I have to consciously edit the parts of my life I present publicly to fit appropriately with the image of my work. I do love the occasional pervy/politically incorrect joke but it's not really something I want clients or customers seeing on my social media XD.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:59 AM   #16
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With coming up with your own artwork and manga, it would be great to build through your contacts and your friends. You might be amazed at how easy and fast your art could grow if you have the right people working for you. They do not have to promote it literally but just putting it out there and giving it the exposure it needs would be used and appreciated greatly and intently.
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