I love me some Roadkill. Actually, our whole family does. It's kind of our fourth Friday tradition to hook up the HDMI and Jesse, Charlie, and I will park in front of the TV and watch Roadkill together. I love it so much, I do random stuff like this:
Jesse got a good laugh out of it and Charlie loves it. I somehow worked themes from the General Mayhem 68 Charger episode to decorate my kitchen. Go figure.
One day, while watching the Roadkill 3-Day episode of the LS engine swap on the Crusher Camaro, I started thinking about wanting to make my own fancy Roadkill shirt. I really wanted a shirt, but they didn't sell shirts. Finnegan made a joke about if people wanted shirts they could just make their own. I'm not against that idea. I wanted a cool graphic tee because I am a fan of cheesy graphic tees and their shows are full of amazingly absurd cars and catchy one-liners. (I guess that's what happens when you take two talented writers and let them banter while working on cars and drinking beer.)
So, I designed the Gremmie-Prius FAIL shirt. Then I designed the Fury MINT! shirt. I kept designing more and more shirts based on ideas I wanted to wear. Mike Finnegan wanted one of the shirts. Of course I was planning on getting him and David Freiburger shirts if I ever got these made. And I did.
In the middle of this, Mike called my cell and we spoke briefly about the shirts and a proposed business plan. He asked if I would be willing to sell my artwork to Source Interlink Media, which I told him, "No. I'm not selling the shirts or the art. But I will give you the art files free of charge, should you choose to print them yourselves." He was pretty excited about it, basically saying he had some ideas and my designs basically "nailed" what he had in mind. He got me in touch with their senior marketing director to deal with the business side of things. Somewhere after all of this, I did something I never did for a client: I got in my car and screamed like I just won the lottery. I had just picked up the best clients ever, even if I wasn't charging them a cent. I wanted to do work for these guys real bad and I got hired as a freelancer.
Now, I am getting a LOT of flack from everyone about this not-charging thing. Everyone is like, "If they can roll out money for building up cars, they can pay you for your work. They're gonna make a lot off these. First time do it for free, second time charge them, etc." To reiterate here - they did offer me money. I turned the money down. For me it was not about money. And really, I do appreciate everyone's concerns for me and wanting me to not get the short end of the stick, but really, in the end, my clients are my clients and should I choose to take on a job or not, charge someone or not, is ultimately my choice. Seeing my work in the world and in the hands of so many happy strangers enjoying it is worth far more than any one-time payment I could receive.
At the end of the day it comes down to this: these designs were never about me making money. They were about wanting a cool shirt. I got my cool shirts made. I'm happy. I love designing these things and for the Roadkill guys. They're great guys and they have a great show. For me, this design process is like a Roadkill project of my own - a labor of love. No one is paying me to do this. I do it because I like doing it. Mike and David work at Hot Rod and do Roadkill as a side project. I work full time and design on the side for fun. Sometimes, we lose money on our pet projects. Do you see the parallel here? Not everything is about money. Sometimes it's about the love of the craft.
There was a contract signed. Basically it was a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo saying what my fee was, that I was giving them permission to use my art, and I'd do revisions as needed, and our contract remains in effect until either party decides to terminate it. Just because I did not charge them did not make this any less of a legitimate contractor agreement.
I really hoped that things would have worked out a certain way per the phone call I had with Mike, but because things with Roadkill never go as planned or on time, they wound up getting a box from me with their shirts. In the true Roadkill spirit, I made a point of rolling up the shirts and zip-tying them together and taping the box with massive amounts of duct tape. As an additional packaging joke, I took the sides of the boxes and made them pre-fab To-Do lists with one column reading TO-DO and the other TO-BUY.
Today, I see this awesomeness on the Roadkill Facebook page and their Instagram. It was exactly what I needed to see as I've been in a bit of an inexplicable funk lately. So, I have to say, this was definitely the best day ever for me and I am very happy to see everyone's comments about the shirts. They're now available on MuscleCarMagSwag.com starting with the Muscle Truck design and there will be other designs later, but I'm not sure which ones they'll all be using as I've sent a bunch over. So, to end this on a happy note, a month long process has now come full circle and in the words of Mike Finnegan, this truly is the "best day ever."