True story: An artist whose work I long appreciated wanted to join our roster. He'd sent samples periodically since 2016; I'd watched him grow, enjoying his covers, pinups, and occasional story but wondered why he had not soared to stardom status. Perhaps I could make the difference.
I started him with a cover assignment, but he didn't follow the description and even his revised layout required a lot of back-and-forth. Then he went quiet for many days. He finally responded that he'd had to take care of his mother after complications with COVID, but he was back in the studio to resume work. Too late. I'd already reassigned the cover, which was drawn/colored/approved/paid for before I heard from him. And I wondered precisely how COVID had affected his keyboard and telephone. What stopped him from a 1-sentence update warning me he couldn't finish the job on the agreed-upon schedule? I told him as much, saying he needed clear communication; he told me he understood.
Another project came his way, a 4-pages-wide banner/poster for a big event to honor certain people. A reasonable budget, basically 8 large panels, lots of references all provided, a clear deadline -- I wrote to him, "Our last attempt to work together didn't go so well...." He took three days to accept the job offer, blaming it on his sick mother.
On September 14th, he agreed to the 4-page assignment and generous three-week deadline of October 5th, acknowledging that included time for a colorist to do his part. On September 20th, the client asked why she had not received a layout to review. I emailed or texted the artist multiple times each day asking for updates, to which he didn't respond. In fact, he didn't deliver the layout until September 29th. I reminded him that he needed to pencil and ink the art in time for the colorist to deliver by October 5th. Client asked for corrections to the layout; October 5th, deadline day, still no revised layout, and the artist begged for "extra days,"
Client gave him an extension to October 15th, which of course he blew right past. The artist wrote, "Sorry about that, I was sick and that's why I missed the deadline I asked for more for you, and soon after that i took a test i was diagnosed with COVID and went to the hospital and stayed a few days away from my studio and drawing board, but I'm fine, i just had this mishap that made me waste time, I would like to finish the work, I will do my best, but i need a few more days to finish the pencils and inks, if i can continue i will be grateful. Sorry I didn't let you know I was sick." Yet again, I was left wondering what prevented the artist from having someone text me a 1-line warning me, so I could reassign the job to meet the deadline. He promised to deliver by October 22nd.
On October 18th, he wrote he was "finishing the details and will be sending it to you tomorrow." "Tomorrow" became four days later, yet he turned in only pencils for two of the eight large panels.
Eight more days passed before he completed pencils, on October 26th. Bizarrely, some of his figures were oddly distorted, as if references had been adjusted in Photoshop without the Proportions locked. I questioned the error multiple times. When he finally addressed it, he blamed the client, saying the distortions were in the pencils but the client approved them that way.
The artist began delivering inked images one panel at a time for the colorist; of course, those distorted images were still not corrected, so the colorist had to make the revisions as best he could.
What's more, when the client and colorist asked about missing images in the Dropbox, the artist insisted he'd uploaded them. So I screen captured a shot of everything in the Dropbox, sent it to the artist, and said, "SHOW me exactly where those images are." He blamed the error on Dropbox and not on his failure to check/confirm the upload, and we lost yet another day waiting for him finally to upload the remaining pieces.
In the end, the colorist stayed up working 28 hours straight to deliver the files, coloring and adjusting and finessing and assembling the many pieces to deliver an acceptable final piece to the client.
Oblivious to his harm to the client and his many, many. muck-ups, the artist wrote to me afterward, "Sorry again for this inconvenience and delay, but in the end the job worked. I would like another chance and hope we can continue working together."
Seriously? My webmaster removed him from our roster today. I don't need that kind of stress or damage to our company's reputation. And our clients deserve professionals.