Above: PACT Panel, IlluxCon 2012. Photo by Jeannie Wilshire
In 2012 I attended an Illuxcon panel presented by Jim Pavelec, Mike Sass, Aaron B Miller, Randy Gallegos and Todd Lockwood; a group of veteran artists. They were frustrated with the state of the illustration industry, specifically with the low pay rates and increasingly stringent contracts that made it increasingly difficult to make a living. They proposed that illustrators band together through a website to try to change this. The concept for the website was to create an informational resource for illustrators, and to implement a rating system where artists could share the working conditions of different companies with one another, and if the conditions were too poor – warn one another.
This was the beginning of PACT, an acronym standing for Professional Artist Client Toolkit. Now, two years later, after a difficult but successful Indiegogo campaign, another IlluxCon panel, and a whole lot of work, PACT is finally live.
In my conversations with other artists, particularly aspiring and young illustrators, the PACT initiative really spurred on a lot of hope for better circumstances. I think it is important to note, though, that PACT will not do all the work for us. If you want to see a change in your circumstances, you are going to have to play an active part.
I think it is important to note, though, that PACT will not do all the work for us. If you want to see a change in your circumstances, you are going to have to play an active part.
PACT’s website has just launched in beta with a nice and clean layout that’s very user friendly. Currently the website offers a variety of articles written by industry professionals that educate artists about the business they are in. There is also a selection of professionally drafted contracts readily available for download, which should prove very useful to those of us who aren’t familiar with how to write a proper contract that covers all the important aspects of illustrating.
If you opt in for the paid membership you are granted access to the company rating system, which is where the strength of PACT lies, and also where you can be most active.
Paid members can rate the companies they have worked for and thereby share their working experiences with one another. The rating system is based on a six star rating system, divided into four sections: the amount of pay, timeliness of pay, contract, and ease of work. Through this rating system the user can get an idea of what a company is like to work for and if they are worth the artist’s time.
Paid members can rate the companies they have worked for and thereby share their working experiences with one another.
I recently had to pleasure to interview to Jim Pavelec, the driving force behind PACT, about the initiative and some of the concerns that have been voiced about it:
Tell us a little about your career. How long have you been working as a professional illustrator?
I’ve been working as a full time freelancer for over fifteen years now. I’ve worked mainly in the tabletop gaming industry, having done work for just about every company out there. I’ve dabbled in comics a bit, painting covers here and there. I’ve published several how to books through Impact including “Hell Beasts” and “Ink Bloom”, as well as self publishing two art books featuring demonic artwork from a variety of artists called “The Golden Ones.”
What originally gave you the idea to launch this initiative?
I noticed conditions in the industry worsening, and it concerned me greatly. More and more companies were asking artists to sign Work for Hire contracts, and the pay was stagnant, if not decreasing. I heard stories from my peers of their increasing financial woes, and decided that we needed to try to band together to try to make conditions better for ourselves. The culture of corporate greed had infected even our niche industries, and I was very frustrated that my peers, my friends, people with such tremendous amounts of artistic skill, could barely seek out a living.
I noticed conditions in the industry worsening, and it concerned me greatly. More and more companies were asking artists to sign Work for Hire contracts, and the pay was stagnant, if not decreasing.
One of the main concerns that have been expressed about PACT is for it to potentially become a platform for disparaging companies that individuals might harbor a grudge against. What have you done to address this concern?
The rating system we have in place on the PACT site is fair, as it rates a company over four different criteria, the amount of pay, the timeliness of pay, the contract, and the working relationship. If a company doesn’t pay much, but they pay on time, have a great contract, and are easy to work with, they can have as good of a rating as a company that pays a lot, but has a terrible contract and is a nightmare to work for. It’s not all about the money.
If a company doesn’t pay much, but they pay on time, have a great contract, and are easy to work with, they can have as good of a rating as a company that pays a lot, but has a terrible contract and is a nightmare to work for. It’s not all about the money.
If a person has a grudge against a company, and chooses to air that grudge in their review, there’s not a whole lot we can do about that. As long as the review doesn’t become cruel and resort to name calling, we’re going to err on the side of free speech.
What are your hopes for the future of PACT?
We’ve already had a few successes in getting pay raised by working directly with companies, and are currently in talks with getting contracts revised with a third. That is my main hope for PACT, that we can work WITH companies in an amenable fashion to improve the working conditions for freelancers. My other hope is that young illustrators come to the PACT site as their main informational resource.
We’ve already had a few successes in getting pay raised by working directly with companies, and are currently in talks with getting contracts revised with a third.
At current PACT is largely focused on various types gaming companies with a focus on Fantasy and Sci-fi illustration. Do you have plans to expand to other types of publications and illustration genres?
Ideally, PACT would expand to encompass all of the visual arts. I would really like to make inroads into the comic book community, because I know that many of their artists are in the same boat as we are. From there on I would like to expand into animation, children’s books, 3-D work, you name it. We have a solid foundation built. All we need to do now is get the word out to these other industries.
I’m very encouraged that within the first few days of launching the site that we have been contacted by many artists working in the music industry doing album covers. I hope that this kind of growth will continue in the months and years to come.
I hope you enjoyed this look at PACT and please do take a moment to check out the site and its features for yourself: http://www.artpact.com/