In the news I hear a lot of reports about how the traditional media sources are having trouble. Sometimes it’s cable news arguing with the “mainstream” media of newspaper and network news reporting. While other times it’s the music and movie industry clamping down on piracy and file sharing. Recently I read about the demise of “scripted” television because of Jay Leno’s new 10:00 PM show that takes the place typically reserved for dramatic television. And as it relates to me, I’ve followed the discussion of how comic strip syndication is shrinking because of the loss in circulation of major newspapers.
Obviously, someone more intelligent than me can articulate what all this means, but to this humble illustrator it looks like the growing pains of change. This is an over simplification but it seems to me that major media and traditional publishers and producers of content are feeling the heat of, dare I say it? Competition. Which is to say that many of the dependable ways for selling and distributing content are changing or disappearing because of the internetweb. The effect of the internet on the artistic market place is a discussion for another time but suffice it to say creators and illustrators can now compete directly with large media companies like never before.
I have no idea what comes next. My hope is that cartoonists, artists, illustrators, and creators can find ways to produce good material and own their content. I’m not convinced that to be a success requires one to turn over their copyright or ownership of any material they produce. This was always required in the past to work with publishers and the like, but with how volatile the marketplace is now I think it’s essential to own what you make and do your best to sell directly to your customers. There’s no guarantee that self-publishing or digitally distributing your work will make money but depending on traditional methods doesn’t seem to be a sure bet either. As for me I’d rather roll the dice and own what I make instead of the other way around.