Do Artists Work For Free?

Artwork IS Work
Artists Work For Free?

A lifetime of discipline is required to master an art form.

Nothing is free.


Consider the time, patience and required skill it takes to become an artist. Spending money from their own pockets just to arrive at the pivotal point in a hard-won career when someone must inevitably ask the artist, "Will you do something for nothing."

'Artwork IS Work', it's right there in the title.

Time and labor are as valuable to the artist as to you. In this wired, digital society there is a common disconnect with the artist and the client. Let's clear the air. The artist doesn't require your admiration but are you giving merit to the accomplishment of working long and hard enough to become a professional artist and designer.
And by due merit, I mean compensation

Compensation: (noun) 'Something, such as money, given or received as payment or reparation, as for service.'

To the client asking for free artworks,
I am an artist

Speaking here of what I know, being a freelance artist, you can make comparisons to similar forms of employment in the creative arts; Singing, dancing, voice over, writing.
It should be said early on and having been debated ad nausea that our craft work (s) may be more cerebral and less functional to the survival of society than a carpenter, or a plumber. But - we creative few, we struggling souls of expression do serve to further the human race.

Because you bring the hammer to nail does that mean you should ask a carpenter to work for free?
Can the carpenter afford a car payment if you promised to tell everyone what great work he did? Just yesterday while sitting in Starbucks, the parent of a friend, a young girl whose portrait I had spent 3 hours penciling, approached me to ask if I would do another portrait of him and his wife. There was no talk of payment or even trade.

How did it come to his mind that 5 hours (and more when drawing two people) was just something I would do as a favor for someone I barely know? He is completely unaware I have spent 30 years in pursuit of my trade and didn't bother to ask. This in part falls upon the craft person and our need for attention and our inability to confront the audience with resistance fearing their disapproval.

Artists must learn to say no to free
When that starving artist cannot make a car payment because another 'creative' will work for free, we are responsible for that. If the client/publisher is getting paid why would we be denied the ability to pay for a meal or keep the lights on at home?
When we give in to these requests we also hurt our fellow artisans. How tempting it is to want more people to view your work even as compensation for payment? Isn't that why we became creative people to share the abundance of our imagination? But do you want to trade your talent for mere speculation?

What is ‘Working on Spec?’
[Please visit the NO!SPEC Campaign webpage.]

"Spec has become the short form for any work done on a speculative basis. In other words, any requested work for which a fair and reasonable fee has not been agreed upon, preferably in writing."

What’s so wrong with that?
In a nutshell, spec requires the designer to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment.

Isn’t it wise for a client to try before they buy?
On the surface, it may seem so. But, digging a bit deeper, one realizes that professional graphic design is about creating custom solutions, not cookie-cutter concepts.

But, with today’s computers and software, how long could it take?
This is a common point-of-view for many who confuse the professional with his or her tools. The process is more than simply tapping at a keyboard or clicking a mouse. It’s about understanding the nature of a communication challenge and then using mind and experience to find the appropriate solution.

At the end of the day, there is a certain irony in spec work.
The prospect of such a request is ultimately saying, 'My project isn’t important enough to hire a professional who will take the time to understand my situation and goals investing the time needed to create a suitable solution."

*Share this blog post with as many artists as possible and feel free to re-post the entire article: Do Artists Work For Free, all we ask is a return link to the site.

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