IS IT WISE TO ASK?
By Mattie Lennon.
When I go into the voting booth, do I vote for the person who is the best President or the slimebucket who will make my life as a cartoonist wonderful?
With a Presidential election coming up in October the above quotation, from American cartoonist Mike Peters, came to mind and speaking of cartoonists. Since 2005 I have been Hon Sec of CIE Writers’ Group. We were, and still are, completely dependent on sponsorship and artists and corporate bodies have been very generous with us down the years.
I recently sent the following request (and it was a request and not a demand) to Allan Kavanagh one of our better known cartoonists;
“We need a simple line drawing, for in-house distribution to Dublin Bus employees, during the Pope’s visit. Unfortunately we won’t be in a position to remunerate you but if you are willing to do it I’ll send you the details.”
Was Mikhail Bulgakov right when he said, “You should never ask anyone for anything. Never- and especially from those who are more powerful than yourself?” I don’t know. All I know is that Mr Kavanagh was underwhelmed to say the least and replied as follows;
Explain to me why you think I’d work for free? How long would I get to stay on a Dublin bus if I didn’t pay?
That was fair enough and I explained, as best I could, that I had no way of knowing that he wouldn’t be prepared to do a small job for free. I went on to explain, “We are not Dublin Bus; we are a writing group made up of Dublin Bus employees and retired employees.”
To which he replied; “You contacted a professional about engaging his professional services and you had no way of knowing I’D CHARGE FOR MY WORK? What other line of business would you contact and expect free work? My time and skill have value. Stop expecting artists to work for free.”
Notice the instruction at the end?
I was soon told that Mr Kavanagh had published my original request on a networking service. (He also posted our email address (email@example.com) which had an unexpected benefit but that’s a story for another day.)
Mr Kavanagh did get a large volume of support from his fellow tweeters, some of whom used the “vernacular of the soldier” and the crutch of the crippled conversationalist a lot. Have a look for yourself; pic.twitter.com/hkSi4mTWXx
One Nigel Bell from Brisbane managed to establish that I was, “Not brought up properly”. And somebody called “Fuster” suggested that Mr Kavanagh send me a well- executed line drawing of a “middle-finger salute” which “Fuster” posted.
If Mr. Kavanagh feels like going to the wider media with his complaint about illustrators and cartoonists being asked to do work for free and if he wants a list of artists who did work for our group free of charge I can supply it. He refers to red mist being on him and according to himself he has, “. . . A zero-tolerance name-and-shame policy when it comes to this.” It is not clear to me who he is going to shame.