© Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

In cartooning, as with any other line of business, there’s good clients and there’s not so good. It’s not hard to tell them apart.

The good guys – and they do exist – are, of course, those who show appreciation of what you have done and can’t wait to pay you for it. They tend also to be the people who know what they want in the first place and communicate in clear and simple terms. Invariably, these are the same customers who take the trouble to follow-up and close the deal, either, in the case of a publication, by providing full publication details and sending you a copy or, with a presentation maybe, reporting back on how things went.

The bad guys – of these there are plenty, and multiplying – don’t know what they want, but they want it yesterday. And when they get it, all needs changing. But when it comes to payment, they have all the time in the world – usually requiring you first to jump through all manner of hoop and process to get what you are owed. They don’t inform you of acceptance or rejection, but hold things in limbo until they are lost. Some try that ploy of payment on publication, but don’t then inform you of publication – or, where applicable, don’t ever return the artwork. I think just over 9 years was the longest it took me to get payment for a major job – but I got there in the end.

We all know print media is up against it, with magazines going weekly to the wall. But that still gives no excuse for what is both bad manners and bad business practice. But it may explain the number of regulars of a certain age to be found in WH Smith furtively thumbing their way through the magazines in search of not what you might think but the answer to whether or not their cartoon has made it into print.

The PCO is not about moaning. Instead, this organisation hands out PCO Special Awards to good guys, such as editors who are a pleasure to work with. Editors from the same mould as Bill Hewison, who, as Art Editor for Punch 1960-84 (and a great cartoonist in his own right) not only ran things to high standards of efficiency and professionalism but took the trouble also to write helpful notes on the rejection slips. To him and his ilk, let’s raise a glass.

Rupert Besley.


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