Japanese Illustrators Work Hard For The Money — Or For Free

posted on 2013-10-30 19:00 EDT by Lynzee Loveridge

After the tragic passing of 94-year-old Anpanman illustrator Takashi Yanase the internet became abuzz with the news that Yanase created a lot of regional mascots—for free.

Manga artist Sensha Yoshida (Utsurun Desu) wasn't pleased with the news, taking his opinion to Twitter: "I think all those local governments and organizations that depended on him to 'work for free' should be ashamed." Yoshida later apologized, but a poll conducted by Yahoo! Japan found that 80% of respondents agreed with Yoshida's comment. Yanase was a well-respected illustrator in the industry and the former head of the Japan Cartoonists Association. The market hardly fairs better for the average freelance illustrator.

A freelance illustrator living in Tokyo shared her experience:

"For a particular magazine, one color illustration 10 cm^2 would sell for 2,000 yen (~$20). This is around 1/3 to 1/6 of the market price. I cried and cried, but accepted that value. I accepted the offer because I wanted work." The magazine had waited until the illustrator finished her drawing before revealing how much she would be paid.

Manga artist Robinson Haruhara (Senyu.) weighed in when a fan asked on Twitter if being a manga artist is profitable. He jokingly referred to a cost slip showing his finances in the red, but later corrected himself, stating he makes 700 million yen (~$7,126,700) a month, although this was probably a joke, too.

Generally speaking, commercial magazines allot a budget of 30,000 yen to 50,000 yen (~$300-$500) per page on average. Editors must then allocate illustration fees, manuscript fees, photography fees for cameramen, and so on. Due to the long-running publishing recession, purse strings in the industry are getting tighter and tighter. The industry will even turn to the fanart website pixiv to find amateur illustrators on the cheap.

The government held a Cool Japan promotion meeting on April 3 where officials proposed creators work on the campaign's posters and slogans for free.

Source: Nico Nico News

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