Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Working For Free- The New Freelance Cliché!

Cliché: a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought. A banal phrase, stock phrase; a stereotype or electrotype. 

I've been reading more and more posts and grumblings from illustrators and designers about the constant requests for free work. Is this the new freelance cliché

A great article that got everyone talking was from The New York Times: 

Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

I'm realizing that the old stereotype of the "starving artist" idea has now been surpassed by the request of "work for free." As someone who has been dutiful in my education and as an illustrator this continually saddens me. 

Please understand this post is not going against doing charity work which is an important to do. I'm talking about the lack of appreciation of your skills as someone in the business of illustration offering a worthwhile creative business service. In other words, you are not a hobbyist! 

Ok. So it's 2013. We have everything at our creative disposal when it comes to promotional freedom, wide open access to markets and endless places to promote ourselves. This is all advanced compared to the olden days of illustration where you relied solely on mail, word of mouth, a smaller world of competition and the phone. If we are so advanced with resources up the yin-yang then we do we still hold onto the idea that our time and our work are not worth being paid for? Too many are believing that free exposure is a good thing. Exposure can leave you cold. It can leave you hungry with unpaid bills. As the old expression goes: You can die from too much exposure. 

Next time you see a contest advertising for free art work, have a look at how many line up to participate. Again, this saddens me. Not only does it make it hard on the participants but for the rest of too. Just like spec work, it's a gamble. 

I remember a time I was asked to do free work for a business. When I asked how long they were in business they said 3 years. I replied that I was in my career at the time for 15 years. Do you see the perspective shift there? A light bulb went off that day! 

Ever hear the expression confidence is sexy? So is confidently standing up for your career! Good workers like wages. Dedicated illustrators like to create daily. Now we need to combine the two. 

Here's a great quote by James Goldsmith- "If you pay peanutsyou get monkeys." Now here's something to think about: If they pay you nothing then what do they really get? What's truly in it for you?