Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nobody likes to work "on spec", if you can believe that malarkey.

Hey, here's a heavy post. But probably, in many ways, a public service.

Alec Longstretch, a cartoonist and illustrator, publicly responded to a request for spec work (that's work-for-free, for you non-freelancers). Part of his response:

"Why should a freelance artist absorb the risk for YOUR concept? Whether or not your idea is going to be successful is YOUR gamble, not ours. If you want talented people to develop good should pay your creators."

I know I've been approached a few times about illustrating stories or pitches for free with the promise of back-end profits should the project become successful. It's a pretty iffy situation. Maybe everyone who thinks it's fair for artists to spend days or weeks working on a project on the off chance that someday they might be compensated should read the rest of Alec's post. It may be enlightening.

And, while I was writing this, I happened to come across a post by marketing professional Sharon Hayes who listed Seven Reasons she can't work for free. Again, just some food for thought for anyone who might be thinking about approaching someone else with a work-on-spec project.

I know this isn't one of my usual, fun posts with drawings and bad jokes. My money's on this being the least popular post I've ever put on this blog. And there are probably a few people reading this whose dreams I just crushed. But information like this is actually good for the non-artist. I think, in the end, it'll improve things between creatives and their clients. 

Or maybe they'll just beat us with sticks. -v


  1. Make no apologies for this one, Vince. Why is it that illustrators would be expected to work for free? Do lawyers? Do doctors? (I'm not lumping in donating time and talent, which is totally okay. That's different from working on spec.)

    People need to realize this. The electric company won't wait for an artist's ship to come in (trailing a wake of cash) so he can pay his bills. Nor will the grocer, electric company, bank, etc. The workman is worth his wages.

  2. I totally agree with this. I've done that whole get paid after the comic book done stuff and it never worked out. You want service, you have to pay.

    1. Yeah, for some reason, I'm not sure the general public understands how much time and effort goes into creating an illustration. And sometimes those same people are insulted if you ask for payment up front. Not sure where that mindset comes from, but it'd be nice to clear things up for everybody. Posts like the ones I linked to in this post can help, I suppose. Thanks for chiming in! -v


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