2. Who’s got the most money?

When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss money. (Oscar Wilde)

This is the second part of the 4-square. Companies – industry groups – with lots of money (high profits) pay much better wages than those struggling to stay afloat. This is obvious. But, surprisingly, we all often go from job to job without thinking about the financial condition and future prospects of our new employer. Usually, Fortune 500 firms are a safe bet for the 17% of all US graphic artists employed there – high pay and job security, most of the time. But let’s look a little further.

High finance

Financial publishing may be the best-paying source of income for graphic artists. And when a company goes for an IPO... an Inital Public Offering... all cost-constraints are off as the money flows in anticipation of the upcoming stock market killing.

IPOs and their sibling, bond offerings, require lots of documents. Most are dull lawyer and financial analyst stuff, page after page of typed material. But then there’s the cream – beautiful brochures, artfully describing the upcoming opportunity. And financial roadshow PowerPoint presentations that use lots of excellent bitmap graphics.

An IPO occurs when a new company’s stock is first put up for sale on the stock exchange. Let’s work backwards from there. The new stock is actually offered by one or more investment banks... one bank acting as the lead and the others helping out with the sale. All these banks need promotional material for the upcoming stock sale, as they will sell the new stock to large investors and smaller banks.

Often, specialized financial printing companies hire artists as they do their part in producing the flood of documents around an IPO or bond offering. Take a look at RR Donnelly’s website – http://www.rrdonnelley.com/Markets/Financial/Financial.asp and you’ll start to understand how much high-paying work is out there.

Why high-paying? Because of deadlines. The absolute deadlines of upcoming roadshow appointments, or the market’s IPO date. And when there’s a tight deadline, you make more money. Always.

It’s not just the stock market. A few years ago, I worked on a financial roadshow project for Phase Metrics corporation. The company wanted to go public with a stock IPO, but didn’t have a long-enough record of high earnings. How to get the money? A bond offering, where a group of investment bankers sold Phase Metrics bonds to investors. But it’s not that easy... first you have to convince the bankers to take on your bond sale. At my end, that meant making a PowerPoint presentation, and an annual-report-like brochure, with lots of graphics and charts. Working late hours, often on the phone with guys at the lead investment bank in New York, who would present our CEO and CFO to other investment banks during their two-week roadshow trip. Also working very closely with Bowne & Co. in Los Angeles, the financial printer (now part of RR Donnelly). And with really tense lawyers who had to check every single word of everything we made for accuracy.

The payoff? $110,000,000 for my company, when the bonds sold. For me, a six-figure bonus, plus my regular pay, for about a month of high-pressure work. Great money for what was really fairly simple artwork – because if the art is too fancy, it takes away from the presentation’s facts and figures!

If I were looking for an art project this morning, I’d start with any stockbroker – find out who’s thinking about going public in my area – and also go talk to a financial printer and see if they need help with deadlines. Many cities also have local business newpapers that are good sources of information... get in touch with one of their reporters, tell him what you’re up to, and ask for help, for contact information. And remember, to make the most money, find a project with a tight deadline!

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