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Sam Dealey

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On the subject of Exposure, from another cartoonist.

Interesting read and some additional resources at the bottom.
Make Your Own Damn Exposure


Digital Networking & Marketing for the Indie Movie Industry series

David Black discusses working for exposure

That old debate about whether artists should do free work for exposure seems to rage every second week or so on many of the social media groups that I follow. It’s certainly a blazing hot topic and I understand that artists need to get paid for their efforts. I’m usually quiet on this because many years ago, it was exposure that got me my first big break as a cartoonist. I’ve said very little on this subject before because I didn’t want to risk being shouted down by the masses, but today I’m breaking my silence!

After 1988, my star was certainly in ascendency as I went from having my cartoon strip, “Punkz”, run in an Australian national rock weekly magazine called “Juke” to being the editorial cartoonist of the national bi-weekly tabloid newspaper, “The Truth”.

The Truth had a circulation of around 500,000 per issue (readership of 1.5 million), in a country of just 16.8 million people, so I became quite well known. During this time, I had no trouble at all adding on a massive number of trade and union magazines as freelance clients. I only had to call up and the editors would happily invite me to come in and chat about what cartoons I could do for their magazines. I was certainly living my dreams.

If we roll back the clock to a time just before all this happened, I’d been desperately hawking around my folio for 5 long years to every single business, newspaper and magazine that would see me. It seemed that most of my time was spent scouring the yellow pages, making phone calls, begging editors and running off to potential customers, rather than sitting at the drawing board and actually doing what I loved. It was ridiculously hard work and I was only managing to get one small art job every 6 weeks or so. Even then, these piddley little commissions paid next to nothing and were seen by very few people. It was soul destroying!

One day, I called Juke magazine and the editor, Christie, asked why they should even run a cartoon. I was tired from chasing and close to brain dead. All I could do was babble on about how “I felt that the vibe of my cartoon strip Punkz seemed to just fit their magazine.” Well, miracle of miracles, I got the meeting and walked out with the job. Punkz was now running every week and Juke went out to newsagencies nationally, so the exposure was high within the music industry. The money low and pretty much just a token payment though. It was only $25 per cartoon strip, so technically, I was working for the exposure. But it was the right exposure!

At this time, the street press was a brand new phenomenon. Beat and Inpress were entertainment newspapers that were distributed free to venues around Melbourne and they were paid for by the sale of advertising space to pubs, clubs and bands. I usually got knocked back by venues when I called and asked if I could illustrate advertisements for them. But things had certainly changed now.

I remember my first call to the promoter of the Evelyn Hotel. Colin asked where my work could be seen. In the past, anything I’d mention was unknown, so nothing further came about. This time, it was “JUKE? Your work is actually in JUKE MAGAZINE???????.” Suffice to say, I got the job! Many more were to follow too.

I added in club after club, pub after pub and so many bands that my old folios are a virtual museum of who was playing in Melbourne in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s. In fact, a few of those old posters are now in the Australian Performing Arts Museum and the State Library of Victoria collections.

Beat and Inpress pretty soon were filled with many quarter page, half page and even full page advertisements featuring my artwork, while the pole posters and factory walls of Melbourne were plastered with gig posters I’d done for bands. It was amazing, but it was nearly all music industry. If I called up other places, they simply saw me as a rock and roll artist and didn’t want to take the risk that my stuff wouldn’t appeal to their target market.

One day, I decided that I needed some publicity for a comic book I was planning called “Punkz In Space.” I felt that my Juke mag cartoon strip of “Punkz” needed re working if it was ever to gain a larger audience. I called up the national tabloid “The Truth,” and the journalist I spoke to said that the editor wanted to see me and to come straight in. I didn’t know that he disliked his current editorial cartoonist and might even have had an argument with him just before my phone call!

Well, I never got that article but I did come away with a job. I was now the editorial cartoonist for “The Truth!” For gawdsake! This really was the big time! I could barely believe it and sometimes still can’t when I look back.

On the day I started there, my desk was right behind the guy that did the infamous “Heartbalm” column and next to an artist that had worked there for 50 years. They both told me to go and join the Australian Journalists Association as soon as I had finished my work. I did, and came away with a job of drawing a caricature of Rupert Murdock for their next newsletter.

The AJA newsletter was a newspaper and their membership was journalists all around the country. I hadn’t thought of this as exposure, but it certainly was. I was flooded with paying jobs for newspapers and magazines. Some were monthly and others quarterly, and the money for a day’s work usually paid around 3 days living expenses. I added on magazines like The Australian Gas News, Australian Electrical Contractor, Single Life, and The Meatworker ….. It was so many that I can barely remember them all.

I did this for a number of years but worked too hard and eventually burnt myself out. Toward the end, I was offered a desk at The Herald Sun. That is the biggest if you are a cartoonist. It’s a daily with the highest circulation of all the Australian metropolitan newspapers. But I needed a break. Unfortunately, the offer wasn’t there when I was ready again a year or so later. Why? Because exposure is only good while the light of it is still glowing.

There’s nothing wrong with working for exposure, if it's the right exposure. My work for Juke gave me a high profile in the music industry, so I ended up with lots of work there. My work for The Truth was seen by the general public, which gave me a minor celebrity status that I was able to leverage to get publicity for any side project I did. My work for the Australian Journalists Association got my cartoons in front of newspaper and magazine editors, so it opened the whole industry to me.

You need a regular flow of exposure because one tiny bit is rarely enough. People's memories are usually not that long. Just one run in Juke, The Truth or the AJA newsletter would never have been enough for me to have added on so many other clients.

Buuuuuut….. that was back then. It was a time when your cartoon needed to be physically copied via bromide, then laid out and pasted by hand. The magazine had to be printed and distributed. That was a helluva lotta work, so you needed to get your stuff published by others. It was also way too expensive for most people to do it themselves.

The same could be said for film makers and actors because we didn’t have the internet, smart phones with hd movie cameras built in, cheap/ free editing suites and youtube. Back then, the process was always physical, labour intensive and expensive. Also, there were far fewer outlets. Just a handful of big newspapers and magazines, four tv stations and a dozen radio stations.

The world has changed and with the internet, you now have opportunities to get your stuff online and accessible to the world. You also have various social media platforms that make it possible to build a following, and you can even monetise some of the channels open to you. My series on “Digital Networking & Marketing for the Indie Movie Industry” has been all about helping you “MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN EXPOSURE!” If you haven’t been following it, the links are below.

Enjoy the series
1. Networking and Social Media -

2. Connectors and Influencers -

3. Content Marketing –

4. Managing Multiple Social Media Accounts -

5. Search Engine Optimisation -

6. Newsletters and emailing marketing -

7. Working with your competitors to increase your reach (co-opetition) -

8. Fan bases/ followers on social media, and engagement

And the very first article that started me off on this series: Celebrities vs Digital Influencers -
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Hey guys! Check out my first video tutorial! How I use vector tools to speed up comic illustration. :D
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Hey, Hooligans! I really haven't been active on Google+ up until now. I'm thinking maybe I should spend a little more time hanging out here.

I would want it to be like my other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt), not just me promoting my comedy, but also me just hanging out having a good time and sharing things that are funny, interesting or important. The question is do I have the time to do that? I guess we'll see.

Thanks for all your support! :D
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