Attending a very STEM-oriented research university, I always find requests by people looking for artists to create logos, posters, and videos for their organizations. Being a token art student, I am constantly bombarded with personal requests. And it frustrates me to no end how people think they can just take advantage of artists for their own personal benefit. It’s time I teach you all a little lesson.
When you hire artists, YOU PAY THEM.
It’s as simple as that. Here are two things that I never, EVER want to hear from you when you try and get me to do a project for you.
1. “It will help with your portfolio!”
It infuriates me to no end when someone asks me to design a logo or create a poster for them, so I can add something to my portfolio. Excuse me, but that’s the most absolutely downright obnoxious thing I have ever heard of in my life. You don’t go to your doctor and ask him to cure you of your illness so he can gain skill and experience. No, you go to your doctor because he gets paid to cure you of your illness. Artists are professionals who deserve a salary, like anyone else.
In fact, professional artists and photographers will charge rather high prices for their work. I know people who get paid around $250 ~ $300 just to design a logo. Many even get paid by the hour. Sure, I may not be a professional artist, and I am unable to create something of such caliber. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to do work for free just so I can “add something to my portfolio.” Because if I really wanted to do that, I could do that any time I wanted.
2. “It will help you gain exposure!”
I’m sorry, but help me get exposure to whom? Did you really expect the poster I made for you, in which you didn’t even credit me, the artist, to help me gain anything? Exposure should be a side effect of my payment, attained through the merit of my artwork, not an incentive in itself. For example, Sam Spratt, a freelance artist, became extremely popular after he designed a phenomenal logo for up-and-coming musician Janelle Monáe, who benefited through their collaboration as well.
Which leads me to a completely different tangent: People who steal art. It’s one thing to refuse to pay artists for their work. But it’s a completely different issue when you don’t even bother trying to contact an artist for their work, and you instead simply steal it for your personal use. Don’t you dare complain when artists put large signatures on their pieces or when photographers place watermarks on their works, rendering them unusable. It’s there precisely because people like you (not you personally—well, maybe… but hopefully not) use their work without giving due credit.
Don’t steal art. Don’t steal writing. Don’t steal photography. Even if it’s not for advertising purposes. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that you want to post that cool photograph or that funny comic to Tumblr or Imgur. But please give credit where it’s due.
Ultimately, people like to criticize artists (not only artists, but almost all other freelance workers as well) and their life choices, insisting that they will never have a job. But that cannot possibly be further from the truth. There is an increasing demand for artists, illustrators, and graphic designers. It is an exponentially growing field. The problem is: people don’t want to pay these hard workers. I call this the Anti-Art Culture. It’s not that artists are choosing a dying field; it’s that non-artists are turning our potentially prosperous field into a dead zone. If I ever do something for free, you better damn well realize that it is purely out of my own desire to help you in your need. It is not for my portfolio, and it is not for my exposure. It is out of the sanctity of my good heart and spirit.
Which I actually don’t have. So if you ever want me—or anyone for that matter—to do a project for you: pay up.