The title of this article is a bit unusual for a graphic designer to say the least. I felt like I had to write something about this issue that seems to happen a lot. I often snoop around in Facebook groups and it seems like more and more creative people, whether they are authors, illustrators, or other creatives, are often vulnerable to scammers. On Facebook, I am often the silent lurker. I’ve joined many groups, but as a true introvert, I don’t contribute much unless I can say something useful. I’m the type of person who believes in, if you don’t have anything meaningful to contribute, just don’t say anything at all.
Because of my work as a picture book illustrator, I have joined many Facebook groups for indie authors and self-publishers. Every day dozens of illustrators are asked to illustrate a picture book. Big business you might think. But no, it’s not, unfortunately. For every request for an illustrator, at least 80 people respond, usually from third-world countries, whose prices don’t even come close to Western prices. The Fiverr.com option is often mentioned. Don’t get me started about how I think of that website. I just sigh very dramatically, my eyes rolling as far back as possible into the back of my head.
When I was scrolling through the groups again this week, I saw a message from a woman who went completely mad about a ‘scammer’. She called him by name and screenshots were added. She was an illustrator and had received a text from him via messenger for some illustration work. In the screenshots, we read that the assignment was discussed, and quickly he went on about the payment. Fortunately, it didn’t feel right to her and she got out in time, without having delivered a single illustration.
In these groups, many authors are scammed by so-called illustrators who use other people’s work, deliver very bad cut-and-paste work, or get down payments and then disappear into thin air. The author has lost a lot of money and is still unable to publish their book. On the other hand, desperate illustrators, who are looking for work are also often being scammed. They provide a lot of illustrations and then never get paid.
I asked her why her first question wasn’t: “Thank you for being interested in my work. Shall we schedule a Zoom meeting?”
Many people find it easy to quickly connect via messenger or email. Of course, I also answer small projects via email, not everything has to be a very long Zoom meeting. But as soon as I receive a request for a bigger project, I always schedule a Zoom meeting. When the client lives nearby, I always suggest discussing the project over a cup of tea.
Am I suggesting this to expose the scammer? A scammer will never appear on camera. Even though it’s a nice side effect. I suggest this because I want to hear from the client about their project, what they have in mind, how it should look like, what technique, how it will be used, and their ideas and feelings about it. I listen and take notes while the client passionately tells me all about their project. It creates trust with both the client and me, to see a normal person instead of an avatar. In this way, we build a relationship of trust and develop a pleasant working relationship.
As for the illustrator in the Facebook group? She has learned her lesson and is now planning a Zoom meeting before taking the next step.
As for you, Would you like to know more about my work as an illustrator or graphic designer after reading this article? Book a free consultation to discuss your project or send an email in which I can answer all your questions.