The image I had of Leonardo da Vinci and other Renaissance artists was that of an artist working in complete solitude, no one to help him. I’m pretty sure movies like The Agony and the Ecstasy helped cement that image in my head.
And then I came across this blog post from a couple of years ago about copies of the Mona Lisa. (Warning: there’s a bit of nudity on the page.) That’s right, folks. Leonardo had people copying his work, and some speculate his assistants worked alongside him.
This makes sense to me from a production standpoint. I’ve heard that some manga artists do this, hiring assistants to help with the panels, sometimes turning over the manga entirely to them and staying on as a kind of supervisor. James Patterson, does this with his writing. From this article:
“The reason his literary output is so massive, at a rate of about one book a month, is that in most of his novels he doesn’t do the line-byline writing himself. He produces a treatment of 60 to 80 pages, establishing the plot and characters in detail, then hires a writer to turn it into a full-length book. He sees their work every couple of weeks, sending it back with notes to speed it up, make it more real etc, and the co-writer ends up with a decent billing (although not an equal share of the cash).”
It makes sense because the more decent-quality items you can produce, the more likely you’ll win the artistic lottery. Seriously, the more books you have, pictures you’ve drawn, sculptures you’ve got at various locations, the more likely it is that someone is going to see it, like it, and ask for more.
In spite of that making intellectual-sense, I have no intention of ever writing like that. I’d rather just do it myself. Giving it to someone else, for me, would take away most of the fun.
On a completely different note: I’ve decided to offer my services as an editor. The first five people to approach me will have the fee waived entirely. If you’re interested, please follow the link below.