James W.D. Stewart

James W.D. Stewart

Embrace "The Suck"


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Working for free…  We've all done it.  Most freelancers will have regretted it at some stage.  Yet, the allure of the E-word — 'exposure', has seduced many a talented artist, musician, or designer into giving away their services for zero financial compensation; as illustrated beautifully (and swearily) in this classic viral cartoon by The Oatmeal.

If you're making art for art's sake, a little exposure can go a long way.  But, if you're trying to make a living and valuing your own service, you're going to have to stand up for yourself every now and then.

Owing to the rise of social media, an alternative but increasingly effective way of gaining legitimate exposure is to publicly name and shame large companies who seek to take advantage of freelancers.  No matter whether you're struggling or flourishing, as a freelancer you're always going to get asked to do things for free.  Here are a few who have had enough, and have fruitfully decided to take their grievances to the Web.

/blog/2017/04/06/work-for-free-fuck-that/

https://forces.army/blog/2017/04/06/work-for-free-fuck-that/

Work for Free; Fuck That

Count Words — Reading Time
by James Stewart
Published: 
Updated:  N/A
Location:  Greater Sudbury Public Library, 74 Mackenzie St., Sudbury, Ontario, P3C 4X8, Canada
 

 

Working for free…  We've all done it.  Most freelancers will have regretted it at some stage.  Yet, the allure of the E-word — 'exposure', has seduced many a talented artist, musician, or designer into giving away their services for zero financial compensation; as illustrated beautifully (and swearily) in this classic viral cartoon by The Oatmeal.

If you're making art for art's sake, a little exposure can go a long way.  But, if you're trying to make a living and valuing your own service, you're going to have to stand up for yourself every now and then.

Owing to the rise of social media, an alternative but increasingly effective way of gaining legitimate exposure is to publicly name and shame large companies who seek to take advantage of freelancers.  No matter whether you're struggling or flourishing, as a freelancer you're always going to get asked to do things for free.  Here are a few who have had enough, and have fruitfully decided to take their grievances to the Web.

 

"Get Your Brand Recognized"

A Sainsbury's branch in Camden managed to raise the ire of the freelancing community in May 2016 by putting out an ad asking for "a creative and ambitious artist to voluntarily refurbish our canteen".

The lucky winner would get "experience in the creative industry while making our community a comfortable area for employees to escape to… giving you the one opportunity to build your career and develop your reputation through the allocated store in Camden."

Freelancers' frustrations at being patronised were easy to find following a Twitter backlash, but this sarcastic response, reportedly via Graeme Snow-Matter (probably, not his real name) — won national headlines, turning the tables on the advertiser.

Artists are looking for a well-stocked supermarket to voluntarily restock our kitchens.  Gain particular experience in the food industry whilst satisfying our need to feed ourselves and live comfortably.  Why not put your skills into action?

Sainsbury's responded by admitting the Camden branch had made an error of judgement and that it wasn't company policy to hire volunteers.

 

"We're Digging Your Style"

The mammoth American TV network Showtime picked the wrong designer to try to rip off in 2014.  On the publicity trail for an upcoming blockbuster boxing match, they decided to approach freelance designer Dan Cassaro to graciously offer him some work for zero money.

To be fair to Showtime, the prize of being flown to Vegas might well have tempted some freelancers, but this one was steadfast in his business ethics.

People valuing themselves and their work enough to say no to this kind of thing has more long-term value than any one job or one client.

Cassaro explained to Adweek, and true to his word, he told Showtime where they could stick their wonderful offer.

 

"If the Deal Goes Ahead, There Will Be Money In It for You"

You may remember David Thorne as the Internet maestro who brought us the hilarious exchange in which he tried to pay-off an outstanding bill using a drawing of a spider.  But one of his slightly lesser known documented disagreements was over a late payment that had dragged out longer than desired.

An e-mail to Thorne read:

I am working on a really exciting project at the moment and need a logo designed.  Basically something representing peer to peer networking.  I have to have something to show prospective clients this week so would you be able to pull something together in the next few days?  I will also need a couple of pie charts done for a 1 page website.  If the deal goes ahead there will be some good money in it for you.

In short, this was the response.  At least, he gave him a pie chart like he'd asked…
 

 

"No Budget for Music"

Musician, Whitey, didn't react so well when asked to provide music for UK TV production company Betty, who work closely with Channel 4.  As per usual, the request was made with the caveat that there was simply 'no budget for music'.

He wrote in an e-mail which he later made public…

Your company set out the budget.  So you have chosen to allocate no money for music.  I get begging letters like this every week — from a booming, affluent, global media industry.  Why is this?
 
It took me half a lifetime to learn the skills, years to claw my way up the structure, to the point where a stranger like you will write to me.  This music is my hard-earned property.  I've licensed music to some of the biggest shows, brands, games and TV production companies on earth; from Breaking Bad to The Sopranos, from Coca-Cola to Visa, HBO to Rockstar Games.  Ask yourself — would you approach a creative or a director with a resume like that, and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing?  Of course not.
 
Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work.

A spokesperson for the company explained:

We use a collective licensing system that ensures both the recording artist and composer are paid.  We apologise for any confusion and we have contacted the artist to clarify this.  We would never use music without permission and going through the proper procedures.

 

Perhaps, the often-made assertion that asking a freelancer to work for free is akin to swiping food from someone's plate is a little overdramatic, but it may not seem that way for those relying on paycheques to put food on the table.  The more that freelancers take a public stand against the cultural non-chalance towards unpaid labour, the more of a faux pas it will inevitably become.

 
Categories:  Business, Economics, Money  
Tags:  Art, How to, Opinionated, Self, The Suck

 
Syndicated to:

 
References:

  1. It's like Twitter. Except we charge people to use it.
    by David Thorne Referenced: 
  2. Meet the Hero Designer Who Publicly Shamed Showtime for Asking Him to Work for Free
    by David Griner Published: 
    Referenced: 
  3. Next time, I'll spend the money on drugs instead.
    by David Thorne Referenced: 
  4. This Artist Had The Best Response When Sainsbury's Advertised An Unpaid Job
    by Fiona Rutherford Published: 
    Referenced: 
  5. You're doing it for the EXPOSURE
    by The Oatmeal Referenced: 

 

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Creative Commons Licence :: BY-NC-SA James W.D. Stewart by James Stewart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  Based on a work at https://github.com/jwds1978/jwds1978.github.io.