Where's the line? I don't know. I've so far only done one convention sketch, and that was because I knew the guy personally and what he presented me with was a hoot of an idea. I mean, if someone is willing to pay more, it's just business to sell something. But artists hate flippers. I know one artist who doesn't really mind flippers, as it means an art piece he created is going to someone who genuinely wants and appreciates it. Then again, I've watched a couple such auctions, and they never sell for as much as what he charges to do the sketch in the first place.
Maybe there is something about artists wanting a cut of such sales. I mean, that's the reason for all these people who sell autographs. People are just going to sell them on eBay, why shouldn't they get a cut? Well, shouldn't they do it for free for fans? Maybe. Maybe not. Not all these people are fans, they're just speculators. Legend speaks of an artist at a convention who was approached by a guy to sign his books. He said sure. The guy produced something like twenty #1's, all of the same book. Supposedly, the artist signed the books, "To the lucky eBay winner, don't forget to leave positive feedback! So-and-so." Supposedly, the guy was livid. Meanwhile, every industry pro wants to know if the story is true and who it was so they can buy him a drink (shit, the artist would probably have alcohol poisoning by the time he's done).
Now, we are going to leave my beef with Adam Hughes out of this (just saying it for people who remember my C2E2 post. It has nothing to do with this). Hughes was recently at the Boston Comic Con and did a sketch of Wonder Woman. The guy was a flipper, who is selling it on eBay. (Curiously, as I write this, the auction is closed. When I looked just before writing this piece, there was almost five days left on the auction and bidding was up to about $2,500. Now, it's closed, showing only its starting bid of $500 and no bids made, no winner. Wha hoppen?!?). Hughes is now going to do things differently -- his convention sketches? One a day, and he'll sell the commission on eBay. The bids will close just before the con starts, and he will honor those contracts. (He did at least one like this for C2E2 this year.) His partner, Alison Sohn, posted this to their Yahoo group:
Thank the piece of shit that moaned and practically wept about needing his Wonder Woman sketch, and today it's on eBay.
Here's how things will work going forward. Adam was only able to get 3 sketches done this past weekend- and was was for the S.O.B. that turned around and eBayed it. So now Adam will eBay one sketch per convention day. If its a 2-day show, there will be 2 auctions. 3-day show, there will be three auctions. No more $200 and $400 sketches. Sorry. But if Adam has to kill himself drawing so that some lying slime ball can go home and make a profit off of his hard work, then forget it.
Maybe it seems harsh, but here's the reality. I can no longer remember who has a sketch, who has been waiting for one for years, and who is a flipper and who isn't. I just can't keep all your names and faces straight. And at a show when there are 50+ names on the list, I challenge anyone else to do it and not screw up. And when we get home, and my failure in my ability to remember everyone and what their deal with drawings is, is rewarded with eBay flipping, It makes Adam angry and disappointed, and he doesn't want to sketch at all. So the compromise is if eBay is where they will end up, then eBay is where they will start.
I'm sorry for all those people to whom we said "everyone gets one sooner or later", because now that probably won't be the case. But honestly, with the number of people that want art, there's simply no way we can make everyone happy anymore. And its not worth it to me to see Adam miserable trying to make everyone happy anyway.
Uh oh. That's not good. Even worse, this started a flurry of bidding on eBay over "Adam Hughes' Last Convention Sketch." Someone didn't read the post properly.
I have always said selling art is the owner's perogative. However, to set out to buy one of these pieces with the sole intention of selling it- that's "flipping" and not "life happening". A member of the Yahoo group here is selling his Black Queen sketch that he won as an guaranteed ebay Auction last year or the year before- life happens: he is getting married and wants to surprise his bride to be with an amazing honeymoon trip. Heck- I myself have had to sell art in the past to make my rent. But I didn't say to myself "If I buy this sketch that is severely underpriced, I could take it home and sell it and pay my rent for four months".
this really was a "last straw" situation. The truth is, I've been saying for a couple of years now that Adam would soon have to stop sketching for fans. The lines are too long, and the amount of time it takes to complete the sketches gets longer and longer as people want to shake his hand, have 2 minutes to talk, get things signed, and in general be able to go home with that personal experience they came to the convention looking for. As Adam has been getting less sketching done, we have to ask ourselves- does Adam not say hi to fans, and take a few minutes to talk, maybe making hundreds of people happy, in favor of getting three drawings done and making a very small number of people happy? And when a third of your weekend's work gets tossed on eBay without a care.... Well it makes it a little bit easier to make the tough decisions.
I hate these kinds of discussions, where, once someone is unhappy, questions of who is obligated to do what start popping up where everyone had been playing nice just moments before. Do I feel Hughes is in the wrong? I don't know. There's a lot of hurt feelings right now. It's entirely possible that he'll calm down and maybe change his mind. Or maybe he'll stick to the eBay thing. All I know is there are a lot of people who would love an authentic Adam Hughes sketch who have just been priced out of the running.
Money...it's a crime....