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If you are/considering becoming an artist/graphic designer, or if you're considering hiring some1 for their artistic abilities, you've gotta read...

"Every day, there are more and more Craigs List posts seeking "artists" for everything from auto graphics to comic books to corporate logo designs. More people are finding themselves in need of some form of illustrative service.

But what they're NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be.

To those who are "seeking artists", let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? …none?

More than likely, you don't know any. Otherwise, you wouldn't be posting on craigslist to find them.
And this is not really a surprise.

In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you offer a neurosurgeon the "opportunity" to add your name to his resume as payment for removing that pesky tumor? (Maybe you could offer him "a few bucks" for "materials". What a deal!)

Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered "yes" to ANY of the above, you're obviously insane. If you answered "no", then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me… why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know;

1. It is not a "great opportunity" for an artist to have his work seen on your car/'zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a "great opportunity" for YOU to have their work there.

2. It is not clever to seek a "student" or "beginner" in an attempt to get work for free. It's ignorant and insulting. They may be "students", but that does not mean they don't deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a "student" once, too. Would you have taken that job at McDonalds with no pay, because you were learning essential job skills for the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid.

3. The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it's one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their "portfolio". They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It's not compensation. It's their right, and it's a given.

4. Stop thinking that you're giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them. There are far more jobs needing these skills than there are people who possess these skills.

5. Students DO need "experience". But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away. In fact, this does not even offer them the experience they need. Anyone who will not/can not pay them is obviously the type of person or business they should be ashamed to have on their resume anyway. Do you think professional contractors list the "experience" they got while nailing down a loose step at their grandmother's house when they were seventeen?

If you your company or gig was worth listing as desired experience, it would be able to pay for the services it received. The only experience they will get doing free work for you is a lesson learned in what kinds of scrubs they should not lower themselves to deal with.

6. (This one is FOR the artists out there, please pay attention.) Some will ask you to "submit work for consideration". They may even be posing as some sort of "contest". These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the "contest", or be "chosen" for the gig, and find what they like most. They will then usually have someone who works for them, or someone who works incredibly cheap because they have no originality or talent of their own, reproduce that same work, or even just make slight modifications to it, and claim it as their own. You will NOT be paid, you will NOT win the contest. The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or "spec", work. It's risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely. For more information on this subject, please visit [link].

So to artists/designers/illustrators looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you. Whether they are "spec" gigs, or just some guy who wants a free mural on his living room walls. They need you. You do NOT need them.

And for those who are looking for someone to do work for free… please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you're accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need. Get a clue.

If you do need portfolio padding, use your skills for a good cause - design a poster for a non-profit organization. Make a website for your local community theater. There are so many opportunities for pro bono work that will actually benefit someone.

Pass this on to every artistically-inclined person you know! Copy the text or just send them the link to the original post."

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I feel VERY insulted by this post, and I'm going to take a moment to collect my thoughts before I respond...

Okay first off I'm not sure who YOU are and I'm not sure WHERE you come from but there is a such thing as everyone has to start from SOMEWHERE! I'm not sure of the COUNTLESS stories of how someone did work for a friend for FREE and from that they were given exposure and THAT started their careers.

I for one am in the fashion business, and this happens all the time. I'm not sure if you know who Anna Wintour is, but she is the current Editor in Chief of Vogue, and possibly the Queen of the Fashion Industry. Everyone knows that Anna made Vogue what it is today... and even though it is on it's decline you know the name because of her. Now let me enlighten you on some of Anna's tactics of creating the pull and influence she now has over this MULTI TRILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY!

Anna Wintour decided that she wanted to show emerging designers, models and photographers. She wasn't going to take household names but she was going to find models, discover designers, and make the careers of photographers. Because of this she SLASHED the cost of creating the magazine for a while because these people where just happy to have a job! Some of the photographers worked for absolute FREE! Even designers.

Because of this, Anna now has her industry pull. The people she featured have blown up become stars, and sayed very loyal. Anna says jackets are in, and designers rush to design jackets. Anna tells Oprah to lose some weight to be on the cover, Oprah loses weight. If Anna blackballs you.... the industry basically black balls you.

This is one example of people working for free and it working out. I have a personal one. I for one am involved in a myriad of things and when I was in MIDDLE SCHOOL I asked a really good friend of mine to design a banner for my website and also design a few pictures for my zine for free. He did not feel afronted, like I was belittling him but happily did it. BECAUSE of the circumstances he has gotten actual jobs because although my endeavors didn't actually succeed people saw the art and said even though this is a stupid website that's nice work, who did it, and I was able to pass along his information. So I would like to tell you to BACK OFF!!! And I'll be back I just have to compose myself a tad more because I feel like I'm going to get really angry about this post.
This is pretty awesome and is worth saying. Thanks!
Hey Yul, I agree with some of what you're saying. Artists shouldn't be undervalued as professionals. I wish I had the funds to pay people for their work in Attack!!!!. But:

Talking about my own zine, because it's all I know, I've had the terms up on my website for as long as the zine's been running, and also have sometimes approached artists directly, and no-one *appears* to have had a problem with it (I will concede that there might be people who had a problem with it and chose not to say so). Whether people contribute or not is entirely their choice. Most people seem to have found it fun to be involved. Several professional illustrators have told me they enjoy doing unpaid work sometimes because it gives them a lot more freedom. One of those is a regular contributor, I feel honoured to feature her work (as I do with most of my contributors regardless of whether they are ordinarily handsomely rewarded for what they do or not).

So, you're saying I shouldn't ask them if they want to get involved if I can't pay them, and they should refuse anyway. I think you're wrong, I think we both get something out of it as things are. But I agree it would be much, much better if I could pay and I hope that one day that will be the setup.
The truth is that what I initially posted are not my words. But I do agree with the general message. More to the point, providing art for free for a zine, say, is understandible. But it doesn't make sense to me for everyone to expect artist to work for free. If you can afford to pay them, you should. If an artist doesn't mind working for free, that should be acceptable too. But I can say for my purposes, I can't afford to provide art for free. I need to spend as much of my time as I can to find ways to make money off my art. Then if I do become rich as a result of that, then I'll be in a position to offer my artisitic services for free. Nonetheless, I do art for free when it comes to zines. But as things stand now, that won't be doing that very often.
Okay now that I reread everything and I've mulled over it a bit a feel a tid bit bad about going off. I should've waited before responding but I didn't and you got the infamous razor tongue... anyway

Umm yeah I definately agree if you can afford to pay the people you should, but I'm all for developing a network of up and comers in any industry and you guys helping each other out. It's what I'm actually doing right now in the fashion industry. I'm developing a network of people trying to break into various industries but can use help from others who could use the portfolio fodder.

I don't have the money to be able to afford paying people but because of this I do know that I don't have the right to guilt trip people into doing things, into rushing them, or trying to tell them what I want because, they are doing the work of their own free will.
A bunch of years ago, I was the editor of the Birmingham SF and F group newletter. I included strips written and drawn by a new artist, D'Israeli. Today, he's known by his own name, Matt Brooker, and is a professional comics artist. But my newsletter was one of the first places he exhibited his work. He has worked for "2000AD" and Dark Horse comics, to name but two.

Should I have not accepted his work then, all those years ago, because it was free and he was an unknown?
I left a few words out of my post which bug me every time I read the thread because they dilute my meaning. I meant to say,

Several professional illustrators who have contributedhave told me they enjoy doing unpaid work sometimes because it gives them a lot more freedom.

I do agree with the underlying idea of this post that people should always reimburse artists where they can, but I don't think the author of the text that Yul has posted has any right to tell all artists or publishers what they should and shouldn't do or to condemn people for it. I'm also very dubious about the assertion that there is more demand pressure for illustrators than for the other professions mentioned, but that's another matter.


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