The Scam


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Posted by Charles on March 16, 2000 at 21:25:10:

Snakebite, Sheepie, Mr. Startoons and the rest of the crew of late have made such inspiring points, I just had to jump in the water. This is what I experienced early on in my career.

My first job as a professional artist was at Hallmark Cards. It had its pros and cons but in reptrospect, it was a great job and a good environment overall for the right kind of person. The best thing about it was that it was a job that you could have for the rest of your life if you wanted it and never have to worry about getting laid off. Security, good medical benefits, pension, profit sharing, free life insurance, etc. A few of us in animation came from Hallmark. The advantage that we have over those who never worked there or experienced a similar place is that we've been exposed to a corporate environment which we learned a great deal from.

I became friends with some managers. They liked me and had me tagged early on as a prime candidate for a management position of my own some day. That's when they started letting me in on the little secrets.

What does Hallmark sell, compadres? Think about it. What do they sell? They call their industry "social expression" but that's not really what it is. That's not the hard copy. The hard copy is paper. Hallmark buys lots and lots of paper. It then prints an image and some text on that paper and sells it at a much higher price because value has been added. What value? The value of the creative people that work there. That's where the social expression comes from. It's the absolute essence of their business. It's ground zero.

As all other corporations controlled by non-creative executive types and completely dependent upon the artist and writer, there is a great deal of insecurity and instability. Not of the economic kind, mind you. This isn't the same kind of widget factory. It's more like magic management and the ones who create the magic wield the ultimate power. All corporate Dicks and Janes who work in this kind of business know this.

That's why, as part of Hallmark's management training system, there is a program which they call Assertiveness Training, in which the management candidate is tutored in the finer skills of psychologically manipulating creative people to get the most out of them with the least expenditure of corporate resources. I could go into detail about some of the tricks of the trade, but you get the picture. It's not that much different from what you experience in most studio environments.

SNAKEBITE's account of the conversation he had with a management type disclosed the reality of the psychological manipulation of artists as taught in business schools. It is real and it's been going on for a long, long while. It's high time that artists come to understand this, face up to it and effectively deal with it.

Does this make you angry? Are you upset? If so, why? What's the surprise? This is the system. The system that says "do anything to take advantage of the trusting, inherantly good, cooperative and unselfish nature of creative people. Use the artists' ego to turn them against each other, tell them that they're not quite as good as they really are, that they can easily be replaced and then sit back and print paper."

It doesn't have to be like this. The power to change things forever is in our hands, now more than any time in history. You can take a small step in that direction, or you can take a giant leap.

April 3rd. 1:30. Sportsmen's. Ventura and Coldwater Canyon. Tell a friend and bring a sheep.


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