Copyright 2007 © Bob Eckstein. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. Courtesy of Picturetown, Inc.®
One constant in this business is getting ripped off – not getting paid for work you’ve done or not getting paid the amount agreed on. My personal favorite is not getting paid for work being reprinted without your permission. In other words you’re reading a book or magazine, and you’re thinking, wow, that illustration sure looks a lot like my style, hey wait, that is my illustration. Has happened more times than you would think. Once I confronted the lead singer of a rock group who used my art, without my permission, for their poster (I won’t mention the band and give them a plug, because they’re as unknown as I am). In the ‘90s it was happening frequently and with students coming out of my classes with work that too often bore a resemblance to mine, I turned to the restroom style that pays my bills today – it’s a style that can’t be stolen as it’s practically devoid of style.
Back in the ‘80s I was the main contributor for a magazine called Spy. (Above is a cartoon of mine – the last cartoon ever published in Spy.) Although I appeared hundreds of times in this popular magazine and my cartoons, stories, charts and illustrations help define their style, I was not mentioned in their anniversary book, Spy the Funny Years and (only) appeared on 6 pages (for they most famous piece which wound-up on TV). I expressed my disappointment over this and instructed them how they could make it up to me – they, after all, had received $1.2 million book advance. After a lot of apologies and aggravation all I got was a small check for $1,200 from the founder who, ironically, I told face-to-face at the book party, was the same amount we settled for out of court (for a different time he owed me money for a different magazine).
To put salt in the wound, at the same time I’ve been writing out checks all over town to legally purchase permission to print artwork for my upcoming book. My advance was about 4% of theirs. (It was announced this morning Jenna Bush got over $300K. That buckethead's book initial run is slated for 500,000. Mine is about 18 books.) My total costs for producing my snowman book is in the five figures not counting the around six figures in work I passed up on the past five years to research snowmen in the Middle Ages. A lot is resting on these snowmen.