Recently I’ve noticed a rather good trend on the internet. There is a push to slap down the idea that an artist should work for free in order to gain “exposure”. This is a good thing. As someone who works freelance (with writing instead of art) I certainly know the struggles of being asked to work for free. It’s sort of a terrible position to be in, knowing that you need to build a resume, but then constantly being asked to work for free. It is also a sign of how people do not take a lot of freelance jobs seriously. It’s not right to seek out an artist and demand free art.
Of course as this is the internet people have taken it to the Nth degree. I won’t name any names, but I saw a perfect example of this. A fairly internet famous person I follow will be attending a convention soon. She made a post saying that if any artists wanted to give her art to hand out at the convention for the exposure to contact her. People seemed to think this was the perfect time to lecture her on requesting free art. This is NOT what she was doing. She was NOT contacting specific artists asking them to make art for HER and asking for it for free. She was offering any artist that WANTED a chance for free advertising.
The sad thing is, is that the internet masses ruined a really good chance for a number of unknown artists. First and foremost the post was lost in a long line of bullshit. Second a lot of younger artists might be convinced that people like the girl in question should pay for art to then hand out. This is not how it works, people don’t pay you to then advertise for you.
It’s great to get behind artists and other people working freelance. I encourage you to be the voice that says “dude it’s not cool to ask people to draw/write/take pictures/etc for you for free”. It is not alright to drive the point to the furthest point and start to yell at people for a situation that is completely reasonable.
And by the way freelancers do work for free sometimes. Freelancers do give away work for exposure sometimes. There is a pretty obvious line between right and wrong, and one that freelancers learn and know. I encourage people to continue to correct those that are clearly in the wrong. If you see or hear someone throwing a fit because they approached a specific artists and asked them to do a job for free and said artist said no, please correct them. Don’t take things to the Nth degree, don’t turn perfectly reasonable offers into some sort of chance for you to lecture people, and if you have never worked freelance then don’t assume you understand all the ins and outs.