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Why I Quit Studio4Hire

Journal Entry: Sun Nov 13, 2011, 1:26 PM


I'll start off by saying I wasn't going to initially write about this in a public place, but then I learned that I wasn't the only one that got screwed. I don't like making a big thing about professional matters, but I can't just sit back and watch my fellow freelancers go through the same thing.  I considered Michael, :icon5000watts:, a friend, but after this experience, it was clear that he didn't didn't feel the same, as friends don't run off with other friends' money.

As someone that is just starting out, I was also partially to blame for being so stupid. I shouldn't have hung in there as long as I did. But money talks and I was getting steady work so it was hard to walk away. I have since joined 2 other studios and also have my own line of clients so I was finally able to walk away without worrying about where I would be getting my next coloring gig. We do all make mistakes when we start out and it's important to learn from them.

Now I will gladly remove this journal entry if I get the money I am owed and an apology, but I won't be rejoining S4H. Until then, you guys can enjoy my story.

About a year ago, my friend David told me he had a friend that was starting a new company, that company was Studio4Hire. Things worked great for a bit, I got steady work, everyone got their payments promptly, and :icon5000watts:, the head of Studio4Hire, always kept communicating with us. Then he started to focus on his own things like a radio show and such. It started to become clear that Studio4Hire was no longer his focus.

Somewhere in there I agreed to be the colorist for Michael's personal projects, Emerald Quest and Hotshot. Michael told David and I that he knew an editor in Vertigo and we were told we had to have the first issue of Emerald Quest done by November because the editor wanted to see it. It was October. So I rushed out issue 1 of Emerald Quest in 2 weeks despite the fact that I had a full time job and other coloring gigs. I rushed this comic out for FREE because I was under the impression it was going to be sent to Vertigo. I got the comic finished before the deadline and it was sent off for lettering, which is where it ended up sitting for about 5 months. (and no, to my knowledge it was never sent to Vertigo)

As for Hotshot, I had agreed to color it for free ONLY if Michael would continue to give me work. Which he did for a while. But then I started to notice something was off. A big comic convention was coming up and all of a sudden Michael stopped sending me pages for my *paying* gigs. He really wanted Hotshot done in time for the convention. I began to suspect that Michael wasn't sending me the pages for my paying work so I would finish his comic. And sure enough, after I finished the issue, I suddenly got a big pile of pages for my paying gigs.

Clients as well as artists stopped hearing from Michael, payments started to not get delivered. Time and time again it would take a good 1-2 weeks of emailing him for him to finally get me my payments. It wasn't too long before I started to receive emails from clients ending their contracts with Studio4Hire. They had contacted me because they still wanted to work with me outside of S4H which was fine with me.

Michael got help for Studio4Hire and they definitely did their jobs and always communicated with me. However, they didn't have access to the S4H account which still lead to there being giant delays in artists getting paid.

Before too long, not even Michael's helpers could get ahold of him. We all tried contacting him through email and over the phone but he wouldn't get back to us.  I finally threatened to quit and he finally got back to me and let me know some personal stuff was going on. No biggie, I understood things happen.

But then I saw the Studio4Hire website stopped working. And I still had a lot of trouble getting ahold of Michael. I finally asked him if Studio4Hire was dead and he said it wasn't. I had a small glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe he wouldn't let it die.

Which brings us to a week ago. I was at the finish line to 2 different Studio4Hire jobs. I noticed the S4H website still wasn't working which concerned me. I emailed the clients because I was scared I wasn't going to get paid for my work because no one could get ahold of Michael and I was almost finished with their books.  Me nor Studio4Hire's helpers could get ahold of him.

I had finally had it. I sent an email that I was done. I intend to do this as a career, I don't have time for people that toy with me.  I emailed the clients to inform them that I had quit Studio4Hire but I was still going to finish their books. (unlike some people, I care very much about staying in contact with my clients)

It's been more than a week at this point and we haven't heard anything from Michael. I am still owed nearly $500 for coloring. Fortunately my clients are amazing people and have my back and one is still giving me the remainder of what I am owed. But I still don't want to see them getting screwed out of money they have already spent.

I have since learned that there are many more artists that Michael owes, a few of them have been waiting on a payment for months. So who knows if I will ever see that money.

Now again, I had never wanted to make any of this public. I don't believe in publicly calling people out and I would have gladly left S4H without saying a thing in public had I gotten my money.

My experiences with Studio4Hire weren't all bad. I got a lot of experience and I met a lot of cool people. I got a lot of amazing clients that I still work with and I'm definitely thankful that they stuck with me despite what they went through with S4H. And very importantly, I learned how to ensure I don't get screwed over again.

But yes, avoid working with :icon5000watts: and :iconstudio-for-hire: if you can help it and learn from my mistakes. And Michael is still around, I've seen him log into gmail so it appears that he's avoiding our emails and calls.

  • Playing: Mother 3
  • Eating: Subway
  • Drinking: pink lemonade
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:iconcrackingskulls:
CrackingSkulls Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I think it's a lot worse being scammed out of money someone worked hard for than to be call out on a journal. If you're friends with the dude, kindly ask him what the hell's going on as to why his former client hasn't got their money for their services.
Reply
:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
Not really my place to question his business practices. My point is in being professional in solving problems. Calling someone's character into question without confirmation of their intent (which you've willing done; i.e. "scammed"), isn't appropriate in any capacity.
Reply
:iconcrackingskulls:
CrackingSkulls Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Student Digital Artist
It's confirmation itself when someone that's supposed to keep in touch with their client hasn't, and money is the issue. Apparently, more artists are complaining about the same thing, and that alone can make something look sketchy about the employer. Hey, they could be wrong here, but it'd be really nice that he could just send an email to everyone and give an explanation as to what is going on. I could keep being 'professional' and wait and wait as long as I could, but by that time, any logical person can catch on that they're not going to see that money ever. So it's not appropriate, nor professional of your friend to keep their clients and employee out of contact either.
Reply
:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
You seem to be missing my specific point, wanting to argue the merits of WHAT was said over my issue of WHERE it was said. I'm not defending one way or another the practices in question of Mike or S4H -- that's never been my contention. My point has been the inappropriateness of bringing it up in a public forum like this.
Reply
:iconcrackingskulls:
CrackingSkulls Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Like I said earlier, there's much worse things than to be called out on a journal for not keeping their shit together in a business. Whether it's inappropriate or not, it's been done now, and I doubt it's gonna be taken down because someone on the internet said it's not professional of her to do it.
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I will not apologize because no matter what, I was used time and time again and Michael dropped the ball on what was an amazing business. I am well aware that making this sort of thing public is unprofessional, but it is also important to keep people in the know, especially when numerous people were also effected in the same way that I was.

I was extremely loyal to S4H and stuck with it through thick and thin. Michael had a responsibility to his "employees" to pay them promptly and to keep them in the know if something was going wrong.

The reality is that he owes a significant amount of money to several artists and clients and refuses to return anyone's calls or emails. No matter how wrong I am for posting this on DA, you cannot abandon your employees and ignore them when they are owed money. It doesn't matter what Michael's excuses are, you can't run a business that way.

I stand by everything I say and know that I did the right thing.
Reply
:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
If you feel you did the right thing, then your peace has been made. It just sounds awful silly to warn of another's unprofessionalism by being unprofessional yourself.
Reply
:iconjohnercek:
johnercek Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011
seeing your posts in regards to this matter has me wary of vantage in house productions. Warning fellow contemporaries about bad deals and bad players is just about the only protection us artists have (court systems costs money, and a judgement doesn't mean you will get the cash)

Seeing a artist/publisher going out of their way to INTIMIDATE (by calling her unprofessional) an artist that has been forced to these measures reveals what side of the line you are on
Reply
:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011
Uh...sorry you feel that way...? But rather than waste time defending my business practices, I'll suggest this: ask an editor if its appropriate to blast people like this. I'll bet it all that they'll tell you its unprofessional and that it marks the blaster MORE than the blastee. It shows fickleness and disloyalty. And for what? Will this even matter a year from now? A month? A week? With respect to Heather's abilities (and this is a compliment) -- hopefully not.

Let this be the last time I have to explain this, because I'm viewing this from a much higher vantage point (plug intended): blasting Mike guarantees her nothing but sympathy, at best.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
You may want to take your own advice as calling me unprofessional for calling someone out in a public place while you yourself are calling me out in a public place kind of defeats the purpose of the message you are trying to convey. Not to be a smartass or drag this out any further, but you just did the same thing.
Reply
:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
While I addressed it in a public forum, its been addressed specifically to you, in the forum that you created. Not the same as just blasting some one openly and possibly without their knowledge. To put it bluntly, I'm talking TO you, while you're merely talking ABOUT Mike.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
If we want to be professional we probably shouldn't be arguing on the internet. So I'm cool with agreeing to disagree if you are.
Reply
:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
I'm certainly okay with that and I appreciate your consideration and candor.
Reply
:iconendshark:
endshark Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
By this logic, we're creeping into unprofessionalception bros. WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE.
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
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:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
That's spectacular
Reply
:icontoyasexomix:
ToyaSEXomix Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2011  Professional General Artist
Some people, huh? I'm glad you wrote about it in journal, guys like him shouldn't get away with this. Always listen to your hunch, nobody should work for free or for promises, especially artists.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, I wasn't going to make a big public thing about it initially, but when I heard how many other people went through the same thing I knew it would be the right thing to do.
Reply
:icontoyasexomix:
ToyaSEXomix Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional General Artist
Definitely a good call. There's enough injustice in the world already and shady people should be exposed.
Reply
:iconkylogram:
Kylogram Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2011  Student General Artist
It seems a lot of studios these days are turning shady.

Me and a couple of friends did an internship this summer, and while I managed to get out of it when I got suspicious, my friends did not. Things turned ugly quickly.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
yeah the really shitty part is it worked for more than a year and was definitely legit. And then I don't know what happened. My hunch is that the guy just quit but didn't tell anyone, which meant a lot of people were screwed out of money they were owed. I was one of the lucky ones as I actually did get paid for all the jobs except the last 2 I was referring to in this post. I know several that are still waiting from payments from a year ago.
Reply
:iconkylogram:
Kylogram Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2011  Student General Artist
This is exactly why I avoid taking up work from people without long histories of good reputation. Perhaps it means I've missed out on some chances, but I prefer to think I've been smarter for it.

Glad to hear you at least made some good contacts out of it. I didn't get the same luxury from my internship.
Reply
:iconparisalleyne:
ParisAlleyne Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Professional
really sorry to hear about this
I also was down with S4H I noticed it was dying so tried to drift but I had no idea people were in your situation
hope you can still get what you're owed
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
well I'm definitely not counting on it. I'm fortunate that I built good relationships with the clients so they had my back.
Reply
:iconinkblot-rabbit:
Inkblot-Rabbit Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
This sounds very similar to a contract I signed onto-it was maybe last year or the year before, and I was desperately trying to look for work to do while getting my degree in Media Arts-I wanted to be a fulltime student, but my family kept urging me to get a job on the side-in any case it was to make designs for a game on Facebook, the contract didn't exactly offer pay, it gave company stock(which was nonexistent at the time since the company was JUST starting out)-I was already wary from the get-go but my dad urged me to do it anyways just so I could have a job. Long story short, I just quit the company because I came to realize that I wasn't getting paid a damn thing for the amount of work I was doing, and haven't looked back since, I have no idea what is going on with that company now, and in all honesty I don't want to make a repeat mistake like that again
Reply
:iconnickalmand:
NickAlmand Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011
Sorry to hear something like this happened, but thanks for the tip. Professional creative people need all the heads-up about this sort of thing we can get.
Reply
:iconred-revolver:
Red-Revolver Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011
UGH. I'm sorry Angie, you don't deserve that crap ...
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
thanks! ;-; All I ever did was bust my ass so I tried not to let that sort of thing happen
Reply
:iconbbsc:
BBSC Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011
Well said. If I had to write a post about my dealings with Mr. Watson, there would have been a lot more swearing.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
haha well I tried to keep it classy
Reply
:iconfrazzled-niya:
Frazzled-Niya Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
you should post this to #Artists-Beware here on DevART and over at artists_beware on Live Journal.
Reply
:icondawgmastas:
dawgmastas Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I always felt Studio 4 Hire came off way too under prepared to be successful and a little shady, but damn. That sucks.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
yeah like it would have and could have easily worked. But it was ultimately a matter of the head guy trying to take on too much at once.
Reply
:iconthemootman:
TheMootMan Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Student General Artist
This really hits hard on me. He brought me into illustration and to find out it really did end this way is kinda insane. I think its fair to say we all bent over backwards for this company at one point or another. But all in all i really hope that everyone who has been neglected in anyway gets what is owed to them.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
yeah it really sucks. I didn't want S4H to die and I didn't want to leave but I had to do what would protect me. I poured an enormous amount of effort into the group so it's extremely upsetting.
Reply
:iconorenkie:
orenkie Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011   General Artist
This is why all jobs need contracts. So when a mutha fuckah who thinks he's slick and is just going to run off with people's money will get his brains bashed in, in court.

You all should have REALLY been dealing strictly in contracts. No exceptions. There's too much money on the table to be shaking hands over it.

Make that bastard pay up.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
We do have contracts, right now we're assembling everything we can from everyone that is owed money so everyone can get what they're owed.
Reply
:iconorenkie:
orenkie Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011   General Artist
Great. At least now there are no what if's. If he continues to dodge, he'll still have to pay up.
Reply
:iconluniara:
luniara Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I think there are contracts. Angie has them at least. She's not stupid enough to go without one.
Reply
:iconorenkie:
orenkie Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011   General Artist
Well that's wrapped up on that front then.
Reply
:iconsssk76:
sssk76 Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional General Artist
Guys like this give people like me a bad name. I do a lot of commissioning. I always make sure my artists are paid as stated in contracts. I'm a writer and letterer. I leave the other stuff to everyone else. I do want to learn flats if I ever buy PS.
Reply
:iconraz-xion:
Raz-Xion Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Student General Artist
Sad to hear that this has happened. Guess it makes me thankful I haven't gotten into the business enough to even get paid for stuff. I hope you get your money, really do. :no:
Reply
:iconmister-kent:
Mister-Kent Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
That's too bad :( I hope other young comickers will steer clear of people like this guy, though sadly it's so hard to tell.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
yeah on the internet you never know
Reply
:iconkizziesama:
Kizziesama Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011
I really do hope you see compensation in the end. And it's seriously disturbing to see how most artists are often screwed before they can even get their "sea legs" in the business :C Damn it, I knew I should've considered law school :lol:
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Thus far I'm getting at least half of it, I still need to hear from the second client I was waiting on
Reply
:iconkizziesama:
Kizziesama Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011
Good! At least you're going to see some of it soon. :#1: What of the other half? Is that from the second client? :) (sorry if I'm getting nosy).
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
It's a second client, we're figuring out how to get his money back so he can pay me.
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:iconkizziesama:
Kizziesama Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011
Ah, gotcha! :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconsssk76:
sssk76 Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional General Artist
Yeah, I tried contacting him too. Nothing. I'm glad I didn't do his book now too.
Reply
:iconangieness:
angieness Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
You dodged a bullet!
Reply
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