The Dark Side of Art Requests...
Some people say that artists are blessed with their incredible talents. True, an artistic ability might be a blessing, but there are times when it can be a curse as well.
I have a fan art account on fanart.lionking.org, and for several years, I've been taking requests from fellow artists (sometimes, I take part in art trades as well).
This is a series of accounts that tell of my harrowing experience with a person who began requesting pictures from me...
Mind you, after a few days discussing this matter on a message board in the hope of getting advice on dealing with this character, I was beginning to laugh at the absurdity of the situation, but I was also getting more than a little rattled. Read on, and you'll see why.
Guide to Abbreviations Used: TLK="The Lion King", TLK2="The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride"
March 27th, 2004
By this time, I'd already been exposed to this person, one who apparently enjoys my work, but wasn't expressing his/her appreciation in the best of ways.
Several days prior to the above date, I received a request via email for all the cubs in this picture as adults. I accepted the request (because I'm a generous sort, and very rarely turn down requests). Even so, I decided to be a little assertive and didn't draw some of them on the pretext that in the stories they appeared in, they either died before they reached adulthood, or have already been drawn as adults by me). But still, I ended up drawing nearly 20 lions, none of which are my characters, and most of which are creations of artists that have left the fandom years ago. I think I did a fairly good job, all things considered, and I vaguely remember getting a casual "thank-you" from the person who requested this picture.
Then I got a "suggestion" (though it was more like a demand), inspired by this picture and this picture for "a Mohatu family, an Ahadi family, a Mufasa family, a Scar family, a Simba family, a Tanabi family and a Kiara family." Since I failed to reply to his email, he/she felt it necessary to send me an exact copy two days after the first one.
(For people outside the TLK fandom: Mohatu and Ahadi are the official names for Simba's great-grandfather and grandfather. Tanabi is the name of Simba's nonexistant son (popular before TLK2 came out).)
I explained that this seemed like an unnecessarily taxing and pointless request, since these subjects have been touched on not only by myself, but countless other artists, and that he/she had just asked for a request that included nearly 20 separate lions. In an attempt to appease this person, I gave him some links to several of my older drawings that ran along the lines of his/her "little ideas."
Without so much as an apology, he/she fired an email right back saying something like "okay, but could you do a Mohatu family, please?" I agreed to do this one, since there are pictures of Mohatu, his mate and his cub, Ahadi, but no pictures of the three of them together. Since this one was a little more original than his/her last request, I had fun doing it. Still, I decided to ask why he/she was requesting such a generic piece. He/she never answered this question.
Was this person grateful for this picture? I think so, since he/she sent me an email saying, and I quote:Thanx for making the Mohatu family picture. I was wondering if could please make two pictures.
1. Adult Nuka with a Full mane
2. Adult Nuka next to Adult Scar
(Note: Nuka is a minor character in TLK2, rumored to be Scar's son.)
Before I could respond to this message, saying that I have already drawn full-maned Nuka on multiple occasions, I noticed that he/she had already sent me another message saying:i just got an idea. I presume you have read terry's Prideland generations. So i was wondering if (i'm just throwing it out there...u dont have to make it) you could please make a picture of Giza and his six sons
(Pridelands: Generations is a lengthy fictional work by Terry McNamee inspired by TLK that takes place long before the events of the film take place. Giza and his sons are the story's main antagonists)
I was more than a little flustered by this double whammy. I thought long and hard before sending this email in response yesterday:I was thinking of making a picture of Giza and his sons for a while. I just got tired of finding the descriptions of all six of the lions in the story.
Please remember that you've already had me do two pictures for you, with a total of nearly thirty seperate lions. Now you're asking me for three more pictures whose subjects number nine. It takes me a while to do these pictures, and getting multiple requests within a week of another group of multiple requests is very taxing for me.
As for your other two requests, I have already drawn adult Nuka several times (here's the most recent drawing). As for your other request, I can probably do that, since I have never attempted it before and I haven't seen any other artist doing so either.
Please try to moderate your requests in the future.
I hoped that I wasn't being too harsh with this person, and hoped that he would understand my feelings. On the afternoon of the 27th, I checked my inbox to find this message waiting for me:Hi, I know I'm getting annoying but another idea popped into my head. Could you please try to draw adult Tanabi with Adult Mufasa, and maybe even cub Tanabi with cub Mufasa.
sorry for bothering you
As you might guess, I was getting very frustrated by this time, and was nearing the end of my rope. I didn't know how to deal with this faceless entity who kept on badgering me with these repetitive, overly-generic requests. But my problems were just beginning...
March 28th, 2004
Today, I noticed another email from this person simply titled "read:". (The previous ones have been titled "HI", "Hi", "HI!!!", etc.) . I was almost praying that it would be an apology. No dice:hi, do u know how u said there was a male vitani and a female scar, by any chance could u send me thet picture,
please and thanx
(He/she is referring to this drawing. In its caption, I mentioned once seeing drawings of a male Vitani and a female Scar (Vitani is a minor lioness character in TLK2).)
So it seems that he/she sees me as not only his/her personal repetitive art machine, but his/her personal errand girl. "Unfortunately," the artist who drew Male Vitani deleted that picture from the archive, and I had no idea where to find Female Scar.
As I was pondering how to respond to this friendly demand, I realised, to my great horror, that this has happened to me once before. Several years ago, my artistic skills were exploited in a similar way by a person who started to constantly request the most generic pieces of TLK art possible in sets of two or three (with a maximum of only two characters each, thank goodness), and I finally protested, saying that she had requested nearly 15 pictures from me and never once said "thank you", and I got a reply from someone who claimed to be her mother telling me to "stop being so hard on her daughter"...I have my doubts that it was actually her now, though...
It's almost if I'd encountered the reincarnation of the Mad Requester...Good Gad.
March 31st, 2004
After a few days of refusing to reply to the Mad Requester's last email for several days, I got an email that read:hi, i was wondering if you got my recent mail...sry so sorry for bugging u
Well, this was to be expected, but I felt a red flag rising as I read this email just the same. I shrugged the feeling off, though, and sent him/her this reply, restraining my murderous impulses as best as I could:Yes, I did get your last email.
I am sorry, but I have no idea where the male Vitani and female Scar pictures I spoke of are. They are so old that they might have been deleted from the Web. My suggestion is looking through some of the more popular websites or asking your question on a message board, where someone might be able to answer you.
All right. That should be enough to keep the Mad Requester at bay. That evening, I checked my inbox to find this reply:Okay thanx,
How is the Nuka and Scar(Taka) picture coming and did you get my idea/request about The Adult Tanabi and Mufasa and the cub Mufasa and Tanabi?
This, my friends, is why an artist gets ulcers.
Not only did I not accept his/her utterly mundane requests, but I sent him/her a lengthy reply explaining why I didn't want to waste several hours of my life drawing characters that have been drawn by every (ON-TOPIC) artist in the TLK archive at least once, including myself.
I only consented to do the picture of Giza and his sons because 1) I already started such a picture some time ago, and 2) I have never seen it drawn by anyone else, and 3)It is an original idea, with original characters, and 4)The author of the story in which they all appear is a very talented soul, and I am glad to have found and read his story.
Unfortunately, for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend, he/she was still laboring under the delusion that I was his/her personal generic TLK art generator. I was fighting the impulse to post his/her email address on the forum where I was asking for advice on dealing with this problem, which was, as you might imagine, not very easy.
April 2nd, 2004 (part 1)
Aside from today's question asking about my progress on the pictures I never consented to do for him/her, the Mad Requester sent me this "comment" about what will hopefully be the last picture I'll ever do for him/her:I really liked the Giza and his sons picture. It was great. I am sorry but when i clicked on the picture the only name I could see was Tauni. Could you send me the names left to right. I think the order is Vita, ?, Kufa, Giza, Kuchinja, Tauni, and Njaa.
The only thing I could think to ask is...WHY?? Why is it so vital that you know the names of these characters?! Have you tried turning up the brightness on your monitor? The description that I posted beside the image said "subtly written", not "written in such high contrast to the background that you'd have to be blind NOT to see them"!!! Surely you've read the story that you keep requesting all these characters from! Would it be too much trouble to open the TLK fan fiction section, open "Pridelands: Generations", scroll down to the section called "The Wahamiji" and find the paragraph in which all the brothers are throughly described for your visualizing pleasure?!?!?
Of course, I didn't send this much needed outburst to him/her, I just politely said that he/she should either adjust his monitor's brightness, or skim through Pridelands: Generations. But I (foolishly) just had to ask why he/she was so keen on getting this information out of me.
He/she, as usual, acted as if I had never asked such a question. Today I got two emails, one entitled "READ!!!":Hi if you got email from terry Mcnamee I told him about you look...And the other entitled "READ READ READ!!!":
---***********@aol.com wrote:> Hi,
> I was wondering if you could please send me any
> pictures of your characters
> (if you can send them) I would like to see the way
> that you interpret the
> characters. By the way have youseen Akril's versions
> of some of your characters. If
> you hadnt i'll send them to you. The ones of Giza
> and his sons, and Mohatu's
> Family was requested by me.
No, I hadn't seen any of these pics at all, I didn't
know they existed. Where are they located? *is wowed*
These are incredible...exactly how I envisioned them!
Especially the one of Mohatu's family and of Giza's
family. *shudders at the last*
I sadly don't have any other pics of the characters.
But as soon as I look up the info, I can give you the
descriptions for the ones you named in your other
mail. Or make them up, because some never had
So I hooked him up to you!
ByeI also gave terry instuctions to your archive:
I'll give step by step instructions on how to find this archive by this artist/writer Akril. She is very noce and takes requests.
1. type: fanart.lionking.org
2. Scroll and click on the letter "A" on the far left
3. Scroll down until you find "Akril"
4. Click "Akril"
5. the in her TLK stuff she has pictures and her request folder she has the two request of Mohatu's Family and Giza and Sons pictures.
6. Then ther you have it
Sorry for bothering you
I didn't know exactly what this person wanted, but by now I was starting to think he/she had more than a couple of screws loose. It seemed that I wasn't the only one being asked to run errands and produce pictures. If Mr. McNamee is intelligent enough to write a thought-provoking, multipage story in near-flawless English, I wouldn't imagine him needing step-by-step instructions to find my archive like it was a buried treasure chest...especially since I already gave him a link to it and two of my older pictures featuring characters from his story nearly two years prior to this writing. I had to stop ignoring my persistant "fan" long enough just to tell him/her this.
April 2nd, 2004 (part 2)
I finally got some good advice from a fellow forum member, which was to post a set of rules on my archive, telling people that I can't accept multiple requests, or single requests with 20 characters in them. Thank goodness advice is free when requested.
And it's about time, because the latest email said:rumors gone around that screenwriters are working on a third TLK and rumor has it it might be based on your story. It was just a rumor. But i thought you like to hear this.
Soryy for bugging you
This is either a sick joke or just a typical product of this person's mind, made even more ridiculous by the fact that "a third TLK" had already been released at the time of this ordeal, called "The Lion King 1 1/2 in the USA, but "The Lion King 3" outside of the states (don't ask me why).
(The "story" mentioned was a fairly unimpressive sequel to TLK2 I wrote in 1999.)
April 4th, 2004
After getting the fourth clamor for the three (or four) requests that I never consented to do in the first place, I politely replied with a message simply requesting him/her to visit my archive, and email me when he/she was finished reading the comment box.
That evening I got a message entitled "hi and yet bye":Hi,
I read the new thing on requests. I am humbly sorry. I vow to stop requesting from you. i am so sorry that I ever requested.
Best graditude with your art
As hard as it was to take what this person said very seriously, I think I finally made a breakthrough. THANK THE STARS.
So to all you other people who draw pictures for complete strangers for free, don't let this happen to you. It was a bit hard for a softie like me to put my foot down, but I should've seen this coming eventually. There are come people out there who forget that they are talking to human beings. Don't let these people exploit your talents. Remind them that you have a life, and if push comes to shove, try ignoring them completely. Hopefully, they will give up.
Thanks again to my friends at the Lilymud forums for their help and advice.