Wednesday, December 5, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - Graphic humour and photomontage

Here is the last part of our trilogy of pieces about variety in graphic humour. It is written by Neil Hepburn aka Beau Bo D’Or. You can read parts one and two if you click on the photomontage 'tag' in that long list on the right hand side of Bloghorn. There's also a good response from our own Bill Stott.

One Editor's note, caution, there is some technical language here.

Over to Neil once more;

In my experience, getting noticed in the digital world means changing websites to blogs, or, in adding a blog to an existing website. While certain cartoonists maintain websites, few use blogs, which you might consider are only of benefit to those reacting to issues of the day. However, because of tagging and search engine technology, blogs can also bring enormous benefits for those who work with specific subject matter or themes.


How to speed - digitally.

If you have created images concerning credit fraud or, say, football, potential customers can discover your work reasonably quickly and efficiently. This doesn’t mean that you give away work for free to those not willing to pay. There are safeguards you can use which, although not perfect, can discourage all but the most determined web-savvy freeloaders. I argue, (somewhat controversially - Ed) in fact, that sometimes, it is worth allowing some sharing (free content), which can bring you to the attention of the paying customer. I appreciate there is a balance but we all have to work out individually what the best is for us.

I’m not claiming I’ve had any great commercial success, but, by promoting your talents using the basic methods which I stumbled upon and still use, you will get much greater exposure for the PCO and, I’m sure, help to shaft me and the photoshop artists in the process. While Procartoonists.org and its blog are a very good start, the site is, correctly, inward looking. I think you (the PCO) ideally need an additional showcase blog for potential customers, outside the PCO, running independently of blogspot, blogger and the like. It would probably cost less than £150 for the domain and hosting per year. Your own-hosted site will give you much more control over style, promotion and shared input. Possibly something similar to Daryl Cagle’s site but in blog format, allowing for feedback and linked to the main media websites but protected from ‘deep-linking’ and/or RSS feeds by the same, so the ‘resource’ is not used to provide links to illustrations that enhance their product.

One final point on digital promotion. Some websites have blogrolls that are three or four times deeper than the articles on their front page- the 21st century equivalent of the car as a penis extension. In my opinion, this is abuse of the blogroll system purely to drive traffic - some blogs linking to others, regardless of the views held on them. However, there is the case for your outward looking blog to have an extensive blogroll because you are a broad church, holding different views on politics, religion, humour and lifestyle etc. You would be quite correct in linking to a plethora of sites and reaping the benefit of the traffic and custom it generates.

So, that’s about it. There's a lot more than I thought I was going to write.
I’m not ashamed of what I do as a photomontage artist, I'm probably a bit frustrated about the limitations and envious of the talents of the ‘traditional’ cartoonist.
When I discuss the various points above, I’m not trying to ‘teach my granny to suck eggs’, I’m hopefully, imparting digital knowledge that I’ve been lucky enough to gain over the last couple of years, and also to those whose work I admire.

And it remains only to say, a big thank you to Neil for all the time and effort he put in contributing his thoughts about the world of graphic humour and digital promotion for Bloghorn.

British cartoon talent

4 comments:

Bill Stott - posted by Matt Buck said...

I stand by everything I said last time - quality's the issue, not the way a gag is made. I can't doubt your thoughts on getting noticed because you have far more knowledge of the technical whizz-bangery necessary. In terms of making a living out of funny images though, I can't just scatter gun the media with images willy-nilly. If an editor contacts me and suggested that he used my stuff for free, ad infinitum, because somebody else, willing to pay, might notice it, I would, and have, said No. I have a website with lots of free gags on it. And a free blog, too. Also,
I'm not sure that PCO IS "inward looking". Part of what its trying to do is re-educate, which might , in some peoples' books seem pretentious and/or hopeless in the face of the communication revolution which is the internet. And yet, and yet.........humans do like solidity, and the guest - house owner who contacted me yesterday to buy two originals which first appeared in the esteemed Bed and Breakfast News - for a respectable fee - tends to lend weight to that argument. As does the public reaction to the various activities at Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival, and events like The Big Draw.
As I've already said, digital spookery's as acceptable as any other form of imagery - if its good. If you're good at it, set a value on it. If you're flooding a tunnel-visioned market dominated by ignorant folk who don't know that things can be drawn, with admittedly funny manipulated photographs for no financial reward, how long will it be before your main creative activities, whatever they may be, take a dive in value?
"Hello, I'd like some digitally manipulted stuff doing for my company brochure, please"
"Certainly, what's your budget?"
"Oh, I haven't got one. I assumed you did it for nothing."
This isn't meant maliciously at all. But, thinking outwardly, it could just happen.

beaubodor said...

You misunderstand what I said.

'Inward looking' is not meant in a derogatory sense.
The PCO website and blog talk to three different audiences - consumers, customers and creators.
In that it serves the creators, it is inward looking or facing.
To promote effectively to the consumer and customer, you should have a separate site minus professional noticeboard stuff and the kind of discussions we're having.

You extrapolate my point of allowing (the inevitable)little bit of sharing/borrowing/piracy that happens when you post on the web to an extraordinary degree.
I never suggested donating work to publishers ad infinitum.
When I started doing this sort of thing, a lot of my stuff became viral and that brought about interest, visitors, the odd threat and work.
Some images from PCO members could easily go viral if placed correctly AND members can decide what they put out.
I mentioned getting the right balance in one of my posts here and am surprised that point has been overlooked.
Shared work, using a creative commons license, could be several pieces or just one representative image or even a monthly pic.
The 'market' is not flooded by those attempting to make money. The web is flooded by enthusiastic and sometimes talented amateurs who create virals for enjoyment.
While media owners incorrectly use viral popularity for a gauge on what they think their readers may find popular, you may as well seed a few images to remind them on what they're missing out on.
...and tag them with a link to procartoonist....

Bill Stott - posted by Matt Buck said...

Misunderstood or not, "inward looking" does imply a certain anorakism. There's quite enough of that in cartooning - in any medium, and PCO much prefers the term "windbreaker" anyway. Neil's thoughts on how to get in everybody's face all the time are interesting, and quite possibly right - especially when put into practice by an individual. The PCO can[and probably will] do more to make sure that whenever "humour", or "surgical appliance" are Googled, PCO pops up, but its first mission is to re establish the art form - as a desireable part of the media - and to present end-users with funny, intelligent stuff. As I've said before, many editors were toddlers when Punch proper expired.
As to the viral content of Neil's third blog entry - again, from the point of view of the individual who uses it to generate paid work, it is not unlawful, but it does establish a massive precedent and the talented amateur who expects [and gets] no payment builds on that precedent.
At the Big Draw in Covent Garden, Andrew Marr asked me if PCO might assume the mantle of a Trades Union. Heaven forbid. But his point is well taken in the sense that a gathering of specialists has no power unless their specialism is valued.
Newspapers which gleefully accept work for nothing - AND its copyright - are contemptible, taking another small step towards doing and saying whatever THEY want us to believe is true. Like Jade Goody. But don't get me wrong.
The last thing I want to do is start campaigning for moral high ground. Having said that, I do think that knowingly undermining the humour business by giving them good stuff for nothing is reprehensible.It plays into the amoral, accountant driven way of the press. Charge them and give the fee to charity. What's that ? If you charged them , they wouldn't use it ? 'Nuff said.
Finally, but still on that note, to any viralist photomanipulators out there who give their work away, please send some to the PCO magazine, Foghorn, and I promise, we absolutely, absolutely won't pay you."

beaubodor said...

A final word on 'free' content.
The PCO does provide free content at a level that, I assume, you find acceptable. You should appreciate however that some of it could easily go viral.
Maybe the PCO should remove the cartoons from its site.
From the point of view of a collective of individuals who think they can use the PCO website to generate paid work, it's not unlawful, but it does establish a massive precedent.

But there is no precedent - My images went viral because I posted them on a website.
The decision for an image to go viral was not mine.
It was the decision of the visitor who sent it on to his or her friend to make it viral.

The viral is an incredibly powerful method of reaching an audience predisposed to appreciate your take on things as each emailer filters content for the next recipient. Your work is essentially recommended.

The PCO's first mission, should you choose to accept it, will not be realised if you ignore the requirements of your different target audiences and produce a confused (technical term) product (your site) to serve many.

My limited understanding of editors is that there is little use in trying to persuade them directly.
They will react to what they believe their own readers will find interesting.
They also like to think that something is their own idea.

So, maybe your key audience is not the editors but their target markets.

Certain parts of my posts (lightly sub-edited btw) seem to be having the effect of a guest farting in an archaic private members club, so it is understandable that you all apparently prefer the term 'windbreaker'.
Maybe it's my accent that makes me difficult to understand or maybe Bill has decided to prolong his misconceptions about free content in the hope that at least one more PCO member might show that he or she is vaguely interested in what the PCO is all about by contributing to the debate.