Part of being a commercial artist is having the experience of working on a project for someone and having it disappear with no hope of seeing the light of day. It happens to everyone at some point to both the beginner and the professional. It's just a reality of the business.
This is both a curse and a blessing.
On the one hand, we artists want to see our work published. We've toiled over it, doing the best job we can. We need to feel as if we were doing it for a reason. It doesn't matter if we get paid for it or not. We have put our time and effort into the project, forsaking our friends, family, and all aspects of our personal lives. We are left with, as a result, a number of empty promises that the work will "someday" be published "once this ( fill in the blank) happens". This does nothing but make the illustrator feel as if he or she has wasted time and effort for no reason. It's very demoralizing and completely unfair to those doing the work.
One the other hand, having this work hidden away forever can be the best thing that's ever happened to the illustrator. Although this happens at various points in an artist's career, the reality is that some of the work done happens at the beginning of one's career and the work is bad. Actually, the work is horrible! I personally have looked back at projects that I thought were good only to see that what I had done was a blight on artists everywhere. Best to leave these things buried.
One example of this a project I had right out of art school. I had just graduated from American Academy Of Art in 2004 when someone contacted me to do Norman Rockwell-like paintings for a book. The paintings were to be headshots of famous people throughout the past hundred or so years. Because I had done a number of gouache paintings in my final semester of school, most recently a 6 page painted biography of my life, I felt I could do a good job. I did 125 paintings in a month and a half, handed the work over and waited for the book to be published.
|Hard at work on my paintings in 2004|
It never was.
Oh, there was a website and it was solicited, but the book never came out.
| I am contractually not allowed to show the artwork for this|
project. I'm not too broken-hearted about that...
Last week I looked at the scans I did of the artwork. The illustrations started out as just ok, and then went downhill. Fast. The faces looked like blobs of flesh tones with brown and yellow things on top. It was some scary, SCARY stuff. That project wouldn't have started my career, it would have ended it! I am very thankful that it never saw the light of day.
The second time this happened was for the first big comic book penciling job for Markosia. I was asked to draw 3 issues of a book called Heretic. I gave up my Labor Day weekend in 2007, worked my tail off and "poof!" it was gone, never to be seen again. Looking back at the art I realized how much I learned from the project and how I never, EVER want it out there. Here's a couple of examples: