Another ‘Work for Free’ P.O.V.

Here’s Adrien’s take on whole ‘working for free’ thing. I’m in Hell Week, (so thanks for the post Adrien) and I’ll be back next week after I come up for air. – KJL

(click image to enlarge)

After reading through Karen’s posts on the “Should you work for free?” topic, I feel compelled to give my two cents worth. I agree with what Karen says about this. Don’t get me wrong.

This is just another point of view.

I’ve worked for free many times. The reasons vary. I’ll run through a few of the scenarios.


I love them. But they’re harder to break into than movies, let me tell you. It was my first love. If there’s a club that you’re not allowed to belong to, this would be it. And when I was 8, I was dead set on being a comic book artist, much to my parents chagrin.

I did many, many sample pages ‘on spec’ in order to receive a pile of rejection letters with Spiderman or Superman on the letterhead. But it’s what you have to do in order to break in. I got frustrated by it very quickly and published my own books myself.

When I started at one animation studio in Vancouver, I began as a designer.

My comic book work in the early 90’s (the ones I published myself) got me the job. One thing I like drawing (and most comic artists don’t) is backgrounds, and I like to make them as researched and accurate as possible. So it was the backgrounds in the panels that got me the job.

Read moreAnother ‘Work for Free’ P.O.V.

Ask Yourself These Questions Before You Work for Free

Well the real question is, “Should you work for free (or very little money) at any time during your career?”

And the short answer is, “NO, OF COURSE NOT! ARE YOU INSANE?”

But I digress.

Would I storyboard for free?


Have I done storyboards for free in the past?


Have I done storyboards for a lowered rate?


And I never really enter art contests. Except in college when we had one for our graduation show logo (and I won 🙂 ).

This post follows the last two about how you value your talents and how I value mine. I had some really great comments too (go read ’em), so some of that information may be repeated here. At the end of the last post when I asked should you work for free, I wrote “It depends. On many things.”

What are those things?

  • How talented are you?
  • Have you had training?
  • How experienced are you?
  • Who is asking you to do the work?
  • What’s in it for you?

We can kind of combine the first three together.

Read moreAsk Yourself These Questions Before You Work for Free

How I Rent Out My Brain

This is what I hate.

When being offered a job, the person tries to ‘sweeten the deal’ by telling me the show has easy, cartoony characters to draw.

This translates to, “So this show won’t take you too long and you can just whip it off faster than usual, right?” or “Yeah, I know you’re burnt out, but this one will be easy because the characters are so simple to draw.” That kind of thing.

Here’s a news flash guys:

Quality storyboarding is NOT about the drawings.

In the last post I asked you to think about how you value yourself and your talents.

Here is how I value mine.

At this stage of the game when someone hires me, they are not buying a stack of drawings from me. It may look like that. That’s what I hand over, right? A big, honkin’ stack of about 600 panels in a binder clip.

Well, you could ask a 5 year old to do the same thing if it’s only drawings you’re concerned about.

But you might end up with one crappy cartoon (on second thought, it might not look any worse than some of the stuff on TV…hmm).

Read moreHow I Rent Out My Brain

What’s Your Perceived Value?

I’m a ‘Big Sister’ to a nine year old girl. We’ll call her Dee. If you ever want to do something cool for a kid, become a Big Sister or Big Brother (shameless plug for those guys). Dee has a little stuffed Webkinz dog. We’ll call her Biscuit. (No, that’s not her in the photo…I must protect her identity 😉 )

If you’re unfamiliar with Webkinz, they’re stuffed animals that come with a code. You go to the website, register, plug in the code and voila. You have an online, animated version of your pet. You do stuff to earn ‘Webkinz cash’ so you can buy your pet food, clothes and furnishings for their online house. Trust me, little Biscuit has a much better apartment than I do.

Since Dee got this little dog, it rarely leaves the crook of her arm. And the fact that the little thing always looks like she needs a bath, is proof of this.

Anyway, one day I was on an outing with Dee. We were out most of the day at a parade, to the mall and then grabbed something to eat at a restaurant. When we started walking to the bus stop, Dee stopped in her tracks.

Where was Biscuit?

Read moreWhat’s Your Perceived Value?

The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on the Right Attitude

This is Adrien’s final post for the series “Getting the J-O-B”. He gives the view for the live-action film industry to follow up my article on The Right Attitude in animation. We’ve covered training, portfolios, professionalism and contacts in the industry. You’ll find the rest of the articles by myself and Adrien at the end of the post. – KJL


Sometimes, it’s really hard to keep up the brave face on a project. Even when it’s a great project, the production can take a real toll on you. Things get behind, you work stupid hours, and you’re not seeing your family. When your little one complains that you aren’t home much, it can be really hard to show up to work with a smile on your face.

There is no quick solution to this one.

And that’s just one example. There are so many things that can go wrong on a movie that can make your life a pure living hell.

I have never really run into anyone who had a particularly bad attitude on a movie. There are so much politics involved in making one, most of us realize that if we spout off crap all day, (especially about how the script sucks) we just won’t be workin’ on it very long.

Read moreThe Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on the Right Attitude

Getting the J-O-B Part 5: The Right Attitude

This is my final post for the series “Getting the J-O-B”. We’ve covered training, portfolios, professionalism and contacts in the industry. All with views for the animation and live-action film industries. You’ll find the rest of the articles by myself and Adrien at the end of the post. This image may not have a lot to do with ‘attitude’ but it’s illustrated by Quinn Simoes (a buddy of mine) and I think it’s pretty cool.


Last week I handed in my third storyboard for the series I’m currently working on. For the previous two weeks I had been going to bed around 3 and 4am. That day I was running on one and a half hour’s sleep for the last 28 hours. That was not in a row…I had three half-hour naps. When I handed it in to the director, I dared him to fire me.

Then I begged him.

I was obviously kidding (and delirious) and the director knew that since we go way back. I wouldn’t joke like that with just anybody (don’t you feel special Boots?). And I knew full well he wouldn’t let me go…as appealing as it may have sounded at the time of my pure exhaustion. 🙂

Would I be considered as having a lousy attitude? Maybe, by some. But I was really just being a smart-ass. And there’s a difference between being a smart-ass and having a crappy attitude.

What is a bad attitude?

Well, if you’re always sitting around the studio in a foul (or even nasty in some cases) mood and complaining. If you’re always trying to stir up controversy between the artists and management (or between artists and artists). If you publicly say negative things about the studio you’re working for. If you constantly put down the show you’re working on.

Those kinds of things.

Read moreGetting the J-O-B Part 5: The Right Attitude

The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Contacts in the Industry – Part 2: Unions and Film Commissions

Here is Adrien’s follow-up-to-his-follow-up article about contacts in the film industry. Which followed up my article for the animation industry. This is part 4 of a 5 part series of articles about “Getting the J-O-B”. You can find the rest of the articles at the end of this post. – KJL


Don’t take this the wrong way everyone, but if you want to seriously work on Hollywood productions, you have to be where the action is. (Editor’s note: There’s an AWN article on that very thing here. – KJL)

At least for a little bit (I’ll talk more on that later). Unless you’re in LA, Vancouver, New York or Toronto the only way to get on Hollywood productions is to have them come to your city. Of course, to get on them you have to be in the Union.

Here are some steps to take in that direction:

Every community has a film commission. These are the organizations that productions use in order to facilitate a location shoot. All of the resources (and budget needs) that a production requires can be obtained through them. The first thing you need to learn from the film commission is the list of the Film and Technicians Unions that serve in your community.

As a storyboard artist, you need to know this. Once you learn this, go to the Union office (don’t phone) and inquire as to whether the Union includes storyboard artists or illustrators. Don’t be surprised to find they don’t. Sometimes this is the case. If they do represent storyboard artists, then inquire about the process of applying for membership.

Remember, you must be a permittee to work on a Union shoot no matter what city you’re in.

Read moreThe Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Contacts in the Industry – Part 2: Unions and Film Commissions