Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Buying Art On Ebay: Herb Trimpe's Opinion

This arrived late last week from Herb Trimpe. I like Herb, he's a lovely guy and has some very sound, strong opinions. Herb was one of the first artists that I interviewed, because he was at the top of my original list (and still is) and he couldn't have been nicer. So once I read the email I knew that I wanted to share this with more than just Herb's mailing list, so with his permission here's the message.
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Greetings, fans and others.

First, although I don't send blanket emails very often, if you want to get off my list of comic book email contacts list, please give me a holler. Second, if you are interested in the world of comics, are a real fan and have paid and gotten commissioned art work from me, or know of others who might be interested in commissioned artwork, be advised: you can get commissions directly from me without paying the higher prices that are being asked of those reselling on Ebay.

It's a free country. Anyone can buy and sell what they please, anytime, anyplace, as long as the product is legal. But traditionally, comic artists have been drawing for fans for years, sometimes for free, in order to promote and to satisfy, and even to encourage those who are genuinely interested in the field, allowing fans to have original drawings from their favorite artists. But there are some of us who see this as a business opportunity--buy from the artist, and sell at a higher price to make a profit. No law against that, but many comic artists do these commissions as a form of income after having worked in a field that no longer offers them work.

Another thing: sometimes the information given on Ebay is misleading, for instance, "original cover art," which would indicate the artwork for the original cover, when it is really only a smaller recreation. This in turn brings up an ethical or even moral issue--is it right to take a drawing done in good faith, and resell to someone who, if informed, would buy it from the artist in the first place. Buyers should be aware of this.

It's always a pleasure to hear from fans and to be able to do drawings for them. Luckily, I have other sources of income and do not depend on commission work to survive. For other artists, this may not be the case, so, if you or somebody you know, wants a drawing from their favorite artist, please have them go straight to the source--the artists themselves. -
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Herb raises some very valid points. As a rule I don't ask artists for art - I pay for it. I've had art offered to me, and I've always been embarrassed by it, but I can't stop it. I don't want artists, or anyone for that matter, to think I'm taking advantage. There's far too many people out there who do that. The only Trimpe art I have I obtained in a trade - I arranged to have something sent to Herb and he sent back my sketch. I can assure people right now that I won't be selling that sketch in a hurry so don't bother asking. I can understand how some artists get a bit angry - I bought a Mike Esposito commission from eBay only to have Mike ask me where did I get it from. When I explained Mike sounded hurt and stated that he spent a lot of time doing the commission in question because the guy who ordered it told him he'd be keeping it forever. Forever, it turned out, lasted for just under a year. Still, for someone such as myself, who can't get to the conventions, eBay can be the only way to buy art such as sketches. I try to buy from the artists each and every time, and I can appreciate Herb's comments, but it'd be rude for someone outside of America to expect an artist to do a sketch and post it away for free.

Having said that, Herb raises a very important issue. I've seen people selling commissioned covers around the place for far more than it'd cost to get the artist in question to do. I once saw a guy selling an Esposito cover re-creation for over $3000, Mike would do the same cover for less. I know that when the money situation improves I'll be buying a Trimpe cover recreation. I doubt I'm the only one who thinks this way, but you can lead the horse to water...

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