Fortunately for us, the Anthro community is filled with creators from every possible niche. We have artists, writers, crafters, podcasters, twitch streamers, VTubers, and YouTubers; just to name a few! I'm thankful to be part of such a wonderful community and I'm happy to see it growing almost every single day, but I want to take a moment to address something else that I see just about every day: Poor etiquette when it comes to interacting with our creators.
In one of my first articles on this site, Interacting with Artists, I touched on the fact that our creators are indeed people too. People who have thoughts, feelings, needs, and even entire lives outside of their work. In this article though, I'm going to focus on a very specific topic, and that's how we, as a community, should take a second to re-think how we view and interact with our creators. So please stick with me, I guarantee you'll get something out of this one~
Just recently, I saw a Tweet from a creator in our community that contained a screenshot of a direct message exchange between a fan and the creator. I didn't grab a screenshot of it because I was on my phone, a fail on my part, but I'm sure you have all seen this before. Allow me to paraphrase:
Fan: Hello! I am a big fan of your work!
Creator: Hey there, thanks a lot. Is there something I can do for you?
Fan: Would you draw my character? I would really like to have art from you.
Creator: Sure, my commission prices are linked in my bio.
Fan: Oh... I was hoping you would do it for free? I don't have any money. But I can advertise for you!
Creator: Sorry, but I can't do that. I need to eat.
Fan: Wow, I didn't realize you were mean like that, but whatever.
So, not to be negative, but this type of exchange is far too common between fans and creators in our community. This is something that we should truly stop to think about, address, and come to terms with the fact that it's just not appropriate in any setting.
Thanks to social media, our creators are more reachable than ever. They often choose to conduct their business through direct messages, have their email posted publicly, and even give out their discord and telegram in order to make commissioning them easier. With these new channels and opportunities to connect at our disposal, we as consumers and fans should respect the fact that our creators are trusting us to not abuse them. So, before you send that message about free art, free crafts, or free anything for that matter, please stop and consider the following about the Anthro community:
Our creators are people. Real, living, breathing, thinking people who have needs just like you do.
They need money to survive, and for many of them their creations are their income.
Their crafts take time, a lot of it. More than you understand if you don't do what they do.
Producing items without charging for them has a steep cost for the creator. To give you an idea: Imagine spending 20 hours on a project across multiple days, while also living your life, and not being paid anything for those 20 hours of work. That's 20 hours spent without making anything in return.
Exposure does not buy groceries. Offering to "advertise" or "promote" a creator in exchange for their services is not the right way to go about it. If you want to feature an artist, ask them what art they would like to use, and create your own promotion for them of your own volition.
When it comes to reaching out to an artist about something other than commissions:
Do your research first. Some artists are not keen on small talk or people trying to befriend them. This is okay! Everyone is allowed to have their preferences and this does not make them a bad person. They will usually have this posted with their contact info.
If you have a question about contracting with an artist for a large project, like a comic, please have all of your information ready before sending the first email. Do your best to have your story prepared, character references in place, and a solid grasp of exactly what you would like from the artist. This will save you and the artist a ton of time!
If you have general questions about pricing or their terms of service, try to find these in pinned tweets, in their bio, or on their other accounts like their FA or DA. Creators usually make these things very easy to find.
Our creators are an amazing asset that the Anthro community has like no other community out there. We are so diverse, yet so connected, by the one thing that keeps us all together: Our love of everything Anthro~ So keeping a few things in mind when making introductions, and continuing interactions, will go a long way. I'm not saying that every interaction will always be perfect, but being courteous and considerate with each other is a great start!
When you approach a creator, it's important to realize that there is always a base etiquette for communication that should be applied. Our creators in the Anthro community should not be expected to work for free, they should not be expected to work for "exposure," and we should not take advantage of their time, talent, or skill. Our community is comprised of a vast ocean of creators and fans, and we all love the same thing, so let's get better at talking about it. 💙