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Submitted on
February 1, 2007


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The "Don't Give it Away" journal

Thu Feb 1, 2007, 8:24 PM
  • Mood: Happy
FAQ including stock usage terms
Visit the BlockBusters Chatroom to work out those artist blockages, burnouts and frustrations. Come talk about your problems or just hang out and have fun! Everyone is welcome and sometimes just goofing off releases some of the stress.

I've seen this in quite a few journals today, and what it says is true, and so please take time to read this if you haven't already.  (Original author ???)

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

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. Say NO to free art.

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 agree with the above important information, please pass it along. The more people know, the faster we can correct this problem.

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Helen-Baq Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2007  Student Artisan Crafter
Absolutely!!! :dance:

Btw, I was able to track down the original link on that - [link] :)
lenashore Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2007
Sophie - can I take you to my client meetings? WELL SAID! Amen sister! Love it.

I never considered the #6 point about the contests. I'm going to go read more about that. Good point!

A little venting now...

I have experienced so many of these things. You live and learn. When you are a young artist, you really suck up the kudos more than the money due to your own insecurities. These users figure it out too.

The free spec work people ask for kills me. That's why I have a portfolio you dumb asses. If you can't look at it and tell whether I can draw or not, you are too stupid to work for.

Sometimes I separate out the sketch prices vs the finished pieces. That way they can pay a little now and feel more comfortable moving into the complete commitment of a project. Unfortunately, "artists" have a bad (although, often true) rap of being flaky and disappearing.

Also, I almost always ask for 50% up front to schedule a job.

STORY 1: I used to do $5 and $10 t-shirt designs for this one guy. One day, he wanted a full color illustration for a full color t-shirt design. I told him the art would be $300 and he flipped out. So, I told him I'd let him have usage of it to make some negatives for $50 but I'd retain the rights. (Yes. This is ridiculous. But, I said I was stupid and young, right?). So, I do the art, let him "borrow" it for $50 and after I while I start asking for it back. After a few months of getting the run around, his girlfriend shows up with the art and a sheepish look on her face. Turns out he spilled Coke all over the artwork. I asked him for $300 for the art and he basically told me to go fuck myself. (NOTE: He was about to go to missionary school. Hmmm...WWJD?)

My husband and I have both illustrated kids books for money. I can't tell you how many times we have heard "Would you illustrate MY book I'm writing? I can't give you any money, but if I get published you'll be famous". LOL. Yeah. Right.

STORY 2: I did a book for a big client that was publishing their own book recently. They hired me to do the art and paid an author for the story. The author wanted to meet me for lunch, so we did. The entire lunch was the author trying to get me to do their personal project for free.

STORY 3: The last time I got approached under similar circumstances was from a local artist. She was already getting published. She called to tell me about her book. She said she really liked one of my pieces of existing art and would I consider letting her use it for her book. I said I might consider it, but wanted to talk with her more. As soon as she heard "maybe" she was all over me like stink on shit. Now she wanted a new piece with 10 different characters with all these details. She then described it with some really prejudice terms which offended me. I thought "She doesn't even KNOW me. How does she know I'd be okay with this kind of language?". Then came the part about how I could be "famous" and she'd give me credit.

She was really offended when I told her that she was asking for a $1000 job and I couldn't afford to put off paying clients to do her work for free. So, see? I'm learning!

STORY 4: My friend wanted me to paint a single Disney character on her wall. I said "yes". As soon as I said "yes" she added 10 characters, the sky, the magic kingdom, and a fully painted bookcase. We aren't friends anymore. LOL.
kingflash Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I had a similar thing happen to me with a tee shirt design I did...I had a deal with this guy who own a large tee shirt shop in the city...the deal was I designed 20 fictitious football logos and he would print them on tee shirts and sell them in his shop and I would be payed $2 for every shirt he sold.
I gave him the first one but kept the others to see how it would work out first.
About a week latter I visited his shop and he gave me $20 and asked for the other designs...I said I needed to give them some finishing touches.
Over the next two weeks I started seeing the design I had already given him everywhere so I went back to his shop thinking cool more money...but no he calmed he had only sold ten.
Latter that day after seeing it several more times I went backto his shop but he wasn't threr and a girl who I hadn't seen before was behind the counter...I picked up one of the shirts with my design on it and said to the girl I've seen this everywhere, she said yes we have sold about 200 of them...need I say he never got the other 19 designs.
lenashore Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2007
Wow. At least my guy didn't intentionally dump coke on it. Your guy was a complete criminal. I'm glad you only gave him the single design.
kingflash Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
There are some real dumb ass people out there...we could have made a lot of money together...I started up my own tee shirt shop 18 months latter and put him out of business within a year.:sun:
lockstock Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2007
Bravo and well done! T-shirt dealers seem notoriously shifty. =RazorGeisha got ripped off much the same way as you, only he had done quite a few designs before getting ripped off. Glad to hear you put that schnook out of business.
kingflash Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Sad to hear about RazorGeisha...I guess the lesson is get it in writing and drip feed designs.:sun:
lenashore Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2007
Oh, that's classic. You get big kudos for that. LOL.

I always enjoyed doing t-shirt designs - but I think unless you have your own shop, there wasn't any money in the designing part. At least that is what my experience had been. I do them from time to time for my clients and pass them off to the T-shirt companies. But, the T-shirt companies never want to pay decently for designs directly it seemed. On the other hand, most of my experience was when I was in a college town. There is always someone behind you that is willing to do whatever you are for a $1.00.
kingflash Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I sold that shop five years latter because I shifted city's and couldn't be bothered setting it up again.
I loved designing T-shirts but your right there is no money in it...even more so now with the cheep china ripoffs that flood the market now.:sun:
lockstock Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2007
Man, that just pisses me off how people burn artists like that. If I were you, I'd have half-done the Disney Wall and then never finished. Just kept telling her "Oh well I need to do these PAYING JOBS first before I can do any freebie stuff."
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