The artist is calling Epic Games for trying to underpay her for a Fortnite design

Artist Deb JJ Lee calls Epic Games alleging they tried to underpay her.  Photo credit: Twitter @jdebbiel

Image: Twitter: @jdebbiel

Popular digital artist Deb JJ Lee has claimed Epic Games tried to pay her just A$4400 for a Fortnite illustration and copyrights.

Popular digital artist Deb JJ Lee has claimed that Epic Games offered to pay her just $3,000 (~AUD$4,400) for a Fortnite illustration and the subsequent copyright to use it. Lee took to Twitter and later Tiktok to explain how she tried to negotiate with the gaming giant – stressing that the demands were disproportionate to the money being offered – but was unsuccessful and had to decline.

“I find it hilarious that Fortnite, which made $6 billion in sales in 2021, asked me to create a full illustration with all copyrights for $3,000,” Lee tweeted. She then included a screenshot of her reply to supposedly Epic Games rejecting the project.

“Okay, given the budget, it doesn’t feel ethical to take on this project – given the time it would take for a WFH commission from such a high-earning game, where I can’t even sell prints, I wouldn’t spare it leave subsistence level.” she writes in the email.

Lee’s claims have caused quite a stir among the game’s die-hard fanbase. Shortly after her tweets went viral, she was inundated with everything from hate mail to questions about why she didn’t negotiate. However, she was quick to take down trolls.

“Some people yell at me for not negotiating, but I actually negotiated,” Lee said in a Tiktok video. “I said if you want to buy the rights, if you want to use this image however you want, whatever you want, you have to pay me $15,000 (about AU$22,000).”

According to Lee, Epic Games’ asking price of $3,000 would have been reasonable if they were only allowed to sell prints – but since they want full copyright, she felt an offer of $15,000 was “reasonable”.

In another video, she also called out trolls and commented that she should be thankful that Epic Games reached out in the first place. Posting a screenshot of the Graphic Artists Guild for Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, she said, “Prices of illustration and art have not risen with inflation for the past hundred years…$2,000 in 1935 can get you a house.” $2,000 now, which is still the same price, won’t get me a seat to see my grandparents in Korea.”

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