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An invitation for your thoughts.
In the past, discussing Collab21 plans has brought up the issue of sharing persona
l business with collaborators who could become competitors. Have you ever been burned?
There are ways to try reducing risk (at least, in principle… ) such as non-disclosure and non-compete agreements. I was surprised when Ben, C21 president, told me that non-compete agreements aren’t valid in California. My very simple understanding is that the tech business is too interconnected to have those, without sort of unfairly “indenturing” workers.
Collaborating with confidence can take a familial level of trust.
Sometimes, relying on trust makes a tendancy towards cronyism. Have you ever felt shut out of “the club”?
Certain kinds of knowledge have traditionally been protected with guilds and apprenticeship. Personally, as a freelance animator, I find it frustrating that it’s hard to practice old school quality craft, partly because of pressure to produce fast and cheap, and partly because animation workplace apprenticeship has faded from existence. Outsourcing has been a big factor. The only ground floor workplace learning that seems to exist any more is company internships. To get one, you have to pay a school, and basically pay to work free for a company. According to gossip, exclusive internships come with paying $100k+ to go to an elite school… then there’s gossip about the club of producers with MBA’s and zero art experience… nothing specific, just the kind of frustrations that can happen with any business.
There’s a need among artists to share craft without doing “pay to play”. Collaboration could fill this need. It can also bring out the competitive tendancies.
Here’s a more specific case. Some freelance artists want to keep project files when assembling graphics in Photoshop. Delivery would a flat graphic that’s only editable by the artist. It’s a way to get a tiny advantage for securing future work. Dave, C21′s member with most business experience, believes the opposite- that openness would encourage clients to come to you.
Secure work is always a worry when competition is fierce. Freelancing brings very few benefits beyond choosing your schedule, as I found out when I had a 2-month drought after the best streak in my short experience. I recently broke the drought by negotiating work on a Flash animation web series. Many of the issues in this post came up while negotiating with an experienced producer and marketing guy who wanted artists to contribute cheaply in hopes of potential growth.
It was easy to have no freelance work for 2 months because of my other dealer business.
Today, on a dealer’s forum, I came across this hilarious post I wanted to share. It gives a nice picture of an experienced self-employed person playing with their competition:
“How do estate auctions work?”
“The more experienced you get and the more the auctioneers get to know you, the less obvious your bidding becomes. I am the master of hidden bidding. I hide behind giant men, potted plants , round corners and bid with the merest nod of my head . Why such insanity you ask ? A = Because when people know you and know that you know your business they pay attention to what you are bidding on and will bid on an item just because they see me bidding on it.
So wherever possible I never let anybody see me bid and I have even had beards do my bidding for me so nobody knows I am bidding on a lot.
Don’t try this unless the auctioneer knows you and knows to look for you when certain lots come up.
I did this just yesterday and the other bidder was going beserk trying to discover who was bidding against him.”
Getting freelance art jobs involves bidding, too. I can tell you it pays to scout your competition.
Can you share any experiences?
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