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November 13, 2011
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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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:icondetleneroma:
detleneroma Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
@vantageinhouse: ah, I see you will be at the n.e. Geek expo with mr. Watson, as well as mutant cactus. This makes sense. Please let mike know he's got affairs to settle. I wouldn't be so vocal about this, but I got left holding the bag, and Mike's dealings have made me look like a con artist for just being nice and trying to help out. So, yes, I'm going to speak up.
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:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
Uhh...that journal was at the BEGINNING of the month (the show was Nov 5th)...and Mike didn't go...so I'll gladly go back in time and tell him at a show he didn't go to to settle affairs that aren't for anyone but he and them to address...thanks.
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:iconcomicmunky:
ComicMunky Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
Michael's only responsibilities for S4H were to connect clients with artists and move money from one person to another....that's what his 10% cut was for...that's why he paid himself. He did not do that very well...and I guess in some situations at all.

Expressing distaste for Michael's poor quality of work is not unprofessional in fact it's an accepted practice all over the internet and in your local city. Their are sites dedicated to people's unsatisfactory experiences with companies (e.g. The Better Business Bureau) This is know as Consumer Reporting. Where I think people may get confused is that the artists at S4H were not employees, they were clients, they were consumers just as much as the people who were looking for an art team were.

As mentioned before Michael paid himself to perform a service. He was an artists representative, he was a middle man that allowed creators to focus on the creation of comics, which was a novel idea, instead of on more mundane business activities (like the strenuous task of moving money from one paypal account to another). He micromanaged, was a poor delegator, was disorganized, full of false promises, and involved himself in way to many unnecessary additional projects which caused the company to ultimately fail. This failure should have been adequately communicated to everyone connected to S4H. It was not. This is bad business. As consumers it is our imperative to report bad business, this prevents others from having to go through the same experience.

This experience feels like if you went to McDonald's and ordered a burger and paid for it. And the cashier disappeared, then everyone who made the food disappeared, then they turned off the lights, and kicked you out and locked the doors. And then blew up the McDonalds. And youre just standing there with no money, hungry, and no one in the business to complain to.

of course consumer reporting is okay....duh.
Reply
:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
Mike's responsibilities are neither my question nor concern. The inner workings of S4H should also be kept in-house and not shared with the general public for no less than proprietary reasons. But I digress to answer that which I can...as you so eloquently put it, there ARE agencies, bonafide and proper, to address such matters for consumers. And with their function they allow for any and all consumer complaints to be investigated and verified before allocating any judgement. The purpose is to keep business affairs from traipsing into personal vents of discontent. Of the many resources that exist, Deviantart isn't one of them.
Reply
:iconcomicmunky:
ComicMunky Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
It's like having a sensible discussion with rubber.


and apparently I was born glue...
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:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
Despite the multitude of supporters you have here, you ARE wrong for posting this. You've claimed to escape the realm of naivety and run headlong into outright UNprofessionalism. As YOU'VE stated, :icon5000watts: has yet to respond, so it's at best a gross overestimation that he's stolen from you and should apologize for it. By airing your professional flaws of impatience, disloyalty and self-righteousness, you've turned what should be a business dispute into a personal attack.
Reply
:icondetleneroma:
detleneroma Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
I was Mike's assistant, she's bot the only one. There are people who have been waiting over a year and never been paid. He flat out took $1500 from a client and NEVER gave her so mich as a sketch, nit responded to emails, and several clients have demanded refunds for jobs they paid for and never got art for. The man is still working, I can tell that from his dropbox account which I still have access to. He is just ignoring all of the people he oes money to. How long is she supposed to wait before warning people? The fact that nobody wanted to speak up is why so many people have lost money. At this point, I don't think it would matter even if he did pay. This artist has given him plenty of time to respond, as have many others, including myself, and he has had no response. How long would you wait to complain is someone had your money? All the clients I have spoken to have paid, so I know he got the money, months ago. She's not being unprofessional, she's warning others. When you have thousands of dollars that are not yours, and even the people you ask to work (by the way, idid ALL of it for free) can not get ahold of you by phone, email or letter, it's appropriate to call him out for being shady and dishonest.
I'm curious why you feel the need to defend him? If you know him, please tell him he needs to settle his affairs.
Reply
:iconvantageinhouse:
vantageinhouse Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
Not to compare resumés, but I'm the original writer of Hotshot, so my dealings with Mike have gone far longer than just about anyone from S4H can claim. My point though is simple, Mike and I have had our share of differences over the years and never did I lambast him in a public forum. First and foremost, professionalism is my main objective because that's one of the few facets of being in this business that I can control -- it hurts me more to openly ridicule ANYONE with any type of sincerity (ala Van Sciver vs. Granito), because no matter how valid my position may have been, I've taken matters of business and made them personal. That's simply unacceptable and anyone who practices that will find many doors closed rapidly to them, in this business and beyond.
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:icondetleneroma:
detleneroma Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011
It's hard to take matters up with someone personally when they won't answer phone calls, emails, texts and they have had their site taken down. I'm also not talking about Hotshot, idid that for free willingly and happily, I'm talking about studio4hire, where I again volunteered happily until clients and artists alike started emailing me, even after I left because I was the one coordinating the projects telling me they had no art or no money and the person with the money wouldn't call them back. That goes beyond unprofessionalism, and if the person makes no effort to contact anyone, even aftertheyhave given them a month to respond, it's actually a good thing to warn others not to get involved in a situation where they stand to be taken Advantage of.
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:iconcomicmunky:
ComicMunky Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
This whole Michael taking money...using peoples time and effort and not compensating them...seems vaguely familiar...

hmmmmm....

life trend you say?
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