We recently got an “offer” to work on a large art show revolved around an alcohol brand which I will leave unnamed and have no desire to call them out. This isn’t about one brand, it is about ALL companies that do this. Sadly, we get offers like this on a semi-regular basis. This is a very common practice for companies (same free pitches), and why shouldn’t it? Designers, artists, etc will GIVE their work away for free. Why pay?
When I started out, I would do free work for anyone and everyone. The internet was very young and so was I. I honestly have nothing against the concept of doing free work for small companies, friends, etc. It is how I got my work to reach people across the globe, it is smart sometimes to do free work as you can reach a large audience by doing one small job. In all fairness though, the work I did normally was for indy sites, portals, etc. Not for companies that pull in dollar amounts that we can’t dream of.
When I went to school, our teachers taught us to NEVER do free work. It was something that I quickly forgot about when I needed work for my portfolio, so I could get a “real job.” I would do free work and the jobs would take forever to complete because of constant changes and other disrespectful acts that I will not delve into. It’s free, so maybe its worth nothing? After I finished the nightmare projects, I sure felt like my work was worth nothing and I would never put the work that I did into my portfolio because the “client” directed the work into something I was embarrassed to show.
I will give an example of what I am talking about. Let’s say you are doing a brochure for a small bed and breakfast. Maybe you even know them. It costs $200 dollars a night to stay there and you charge $800 for a brochure. Then you should get around 4 complimentary visits for your work. Would seem fair to me.
But this rant isn’t about tiny companies that struggle to survive, its about large ones that seduce people into thinking they are doing the artists a favor for showing your work. Like they respect your work enough to be associated with you, but not enough to pay you so you can continue to pay rent and do that work. They are NOT doing you a favor, you are doing a whole campaign for them, for free. It’s time for this devaluing practice to stop.