We at Litebox advocate for, and actively seek to:
- Establish consistent wage transparency across the commercial art disciplines of Illustration and Cartooning.
- Change existing commercial institutions, both fiscal and educational, to advocate for the living conditions of artists.
- Establish industry-wide standard rates set by workers to reflect the contemporary costs of living.
- Demand overtime compensation, should the job require it.
- Enforce that copyright should stay with the creator; otherwise, the creator must be fairly compensated for giving up their intellectual property.
- Demand upfront deposits on short-term freelance jobs. For longer-term projects, retainers are to be required.
- Encourage creator and worker-owned companies and studios.
- Refusal to participate in the “pay-to-play” corporate farce of free spec work and design competitions.
- Rejection of the idea that we are simply “doing what we love.” We are highly skilled workers that provide valued content, and as such, we must be fairly compensated for the labor our creation demands.
- Enforce equitable conditions regardless of race, gender, disability, or class to both remove the homogeneity of our field and promote the safety and opportunity of all who participate.
- Reject exposure as payment and the distortion of social media as an economically stabilizing force.
- Demand any legal protections and access extended to freelance media workers. These must apply to all freelancers and gig workers.
- Companies that hire illustrators consistently must hire art directors to work with them, not editors or those who do not know the language of visual design.
- Publishers who choose to work with comic book artists and graphic novelists must have ample experience working within this field, or must hire appropriately experienced staff before embarking on production.
We are a group of illustrators, cartoonists, and other commercial artists concerned about the exploitative practices in our industry, and the daily risk and uncertainty we face as a result of said practices.
The unwritten law is such: We are “doing what we love”, and so we should not complain. We reject this gross misunderstanding of our values and needs.
Our labor has value, and more importantly, we have value. Illustration, cartoons, and visual design has never been more in demand than it is now. Companies are making millions off of us while we have to grovel and beg to be paid.
We work alone, having to rely on word of mouth to compare rates and vet clients. We have to negotiate every job we get on an individual basis. As a result, new illustrators and those without solid networks are at a disadvantage when negotiating. All too often, those who have not been privileged enough to attend expensive art institutions lack the connections, resources, and networks to advance; the result of which is a classist detriment to the arts.
Payment is far too often delayed or never given. Even if it is prompt, the standard 30 days after work is handed in is too long to wait for a paycheck, and so we are forced to support ourselves with multiple jobs. Our careers are never stable. We have no protection or safety net incase of injury or a destabilizing life event. We have no health insurance. We are offered jobs for far below market value and are forced to take the job if we want to work at all.
To support ourselves, we consistently work unpaid overtime, with no accountability for those responsible. Because there is no ‘off-the-clock’, we have no time to think, create, or live outside of the demands of the market. When we get stable contract jobs, we are misclassified as permalancers and refused health care, overtime pay, pension, equal rates to union workers, and worker protections. Without the means to hire lawyers, we are taken advantage of by the legal jargon used within contracts, and have no protection in the event of sexual or racial harassment, or the theft of our works and intellectual properties.
It does not have to be this way. We demand change.
We will work for that change, through education, transparency, building cross-discipline solidarity, and working collectively to protect ourselves, our work, and our ability to live full, healthy lives.
The Litebox Team