Image syndicates are essentially, third party agencies controlling, buying and selling the work of creative people for a premium.
It’s a perfectly respectable and highly successful business model but I would argue that in the long term, this relationship crushes a great deal of creative innovation, ensures the business status quo is unchallenged and is not in the long term interests of its customers.
(Can anyone spot the wounded artist in all this? 🙂
I would cite as an example of this what has happened to the work of print photographers whose trade has been decimated by the emergence of the stock picture library. Prices per unit (picture) have been wrecked and it is increasingly rare for independent providers to work in the media at all now.
And as far as I can see, the same thing is now happening to illustration and drawn products.
The trend really started in the UK with the emergence of large scale agencies based on the photographic model – of these the best known one to me is Cartoonstock run by the kind and extremely cartoon friendly Joel Mishon.
He and I have a friendly disagreement about this, he argues that any sale of a cartoon is good – and he has a point, up to a point. Indeed cheap sales of drawn imagery should be encouraged to low level publications, local magazines, newsletters and so forth. However, in doing this, it also allows big businesses to procure high quality content for a relative pittance.
Of course, they aren’t going to refuse that, but this slowly destroys the market for anyone talented, keen (and stupid) enough to try and break into large traditional media markets which used to pay for high quality and original content.
What do you think?