Why doesn't artist "X" work for product "Y" anymore?
This is a question that confounds me. I might get asked this more often than other illustrators because I'm friends with a few art directors. Or, it might be that I just have one of those all-knowing, all-seeing faces. Or, it could be that there's something about me that screams "gossip monger." I don't know.
Like it or not, there are fans out there who care enough to find out why their favorite artist has gone AWOL, and will devote a fair amount of time discussing the various possible answers to the question, both in person and on the internet. And, like it or not, this question gets asked.
Now, I could answer this question with another question, like "why do you think they're not working on that project anymore?" I could just tell folks to ask the artist in question, themselves. I could even tell folks that the artist stopped working on said project because of something these folks did (which is exactly what my Mom told me in the movie theater when I asked why the film broke in the middle of the Hoth assault in The Empire Strikes Back, in 1983 — a comment that caused me to seriously consider my roll in the world, any impact I might have on films running properly, and a comment which has scarred me for life).
But I digress...
In all reality, when faced with this question, I tend to admit ignorance. Fact is, I don't have any inside information and haven't heard the latest rumors. I don't like to speculate about anyone's career or choices. It's frankly none of my business. However, for the fun of it, let's explore some possibilities as to why artist "X" isn't around anymore.
1. The artist is difficult to work with (your art direction is nice and all, but I do things my way and only my way, so you can kiss my [expletive deleted]).
2. The artist doesn't do his paperwork (what do you mean I need to hand in a contract and invoice before I get a check? What is this, Soviet Russia?).
3. The artist's work has declined in quality (meh, you can see what I was getting at...we'll fix it in post).
4. The artist's arms have fallen off rendering them unable to paint effectively (you know, I'd pick them up and put them back on, if I only had arms to do it with).
5. The artist's strengths no longer mesh with the direction the project is headed in (there's just no room for realism now that the whole game's gone anime).
6. The artist has broken contract or violated a non-disclosure agreement (psst...you wanna hear about the latest Magic storyline? Meet me behind the Stop and Shop with a stack of unmarked bills in a manilla envelope...oh, and make sure you're not followed).
7. The artist is no longer alive (do I even need to explain this?).
8. The artist has left the project due to personal reasons (I don't have to tell you nothin' — it's personal).
9. The artist has decided to explore the exciting world of accountancy (yeah, I think we can write that PS3 off...).
10. The artist got drunk and was sick all over the art director's carpet causing the art director to sever all ties to the artist (it was a rental and the damage was taken out of the art director's security deposit — who could blame them for doing this?).
11. The art director no longer runs the project and a new art director has come in with a different stable of artists (your crane style is no match for my tiger style).
12. The art director has found better artists to bring into the fold (this new guy really puts into perspective just how mediocre Belledin was all along, I'm really glad we were able to replace him).
13. The art director doesn't like the artist's face (you know, your right eye is one millimeter higher than your left. It's symmetry or nothing for me, sir).
14. The art director's boss doesn't like your face and instructs the art director not to use the artist anymore (seriously — that extra millimeter makes all the difference).
15. The company the art director works for has failed to pay its phone and internet bills leaving the art director no other option than to hire only those whose mailing addresses he can remember off the top of his head (what's the postal abbreviation for New York again?).
Hopefully at least one of those was vaguely entertaining, outlandish as they may be. Still, there are bits of truth in some of them that are potential hazards which illustrators can be and have been hurt by. And while there are many possibilities that are discussed among fans and fellow illustrators alike as to why their favorite artist just isn't around anymore, one potential reason seems to be brought up quite rarely:
16. Maybe, just maybe, the artist has found an amazing new project that he or she wants to devote their time to that doesn't allow time for project "Y."
At the end of the day, why someone no longer works on a given project is between the artist and the art director. Digging up the reason isn't going to change the facts. If you still want to ask questions, I recommend this one: what is artist "X" working on now?