“It’s just a quick sketch.” “You love what you do—you can do it for free.” “What do you mean, I have to pay for art?” If artists had a nickel for every time they heard somebody ask them to work for free, well… We wouldn’t be talking about ‘starving artists’ at all, would we?
Everyone should be paid for the work and services they provide, no matter if they’re a painter, sculptor, dancer, or musician. Unfortunately, the world is full of choosing beggars that want to take advantage of the artistically inclined. That’s how they end up on the 2-million-strong ‘Choosing Beggars’ subreddit. Scroll down and check out how some people try to get art for free. Don’t forget to upvote the pics that infuriated you the most and share if anyone tried to get you to work for free in the comment section, dear Pandas.
We reached out to The Freelancer Club team and spoke to them about their #NoFreeWork campaign, about fighting exploitative unpaid work, why artists are often targets, and what can be done to avoid working for free. “Artists are sometimes looked down upon as hobbyists and yet it takes years of hard work, natural ability, and creativity to produce thought-providing, meaningful art. Artists enrich our lives, provoke thought and conversation,” a representative of The Freelancer Club told us. “We must start to value artists for their contribution to society and the economy. Try going a week without art, music, and film and see how grey the world would be without the creative colors that artists provide us with on a daily basis.” Scroll down for the full interview.
#1 Customer Wants A Tattoo Artist To Issue Them An “Inconvenience Fee” For Setting Them Up With An Artist Who Was An Ex-Con
Image credits: to_the_tenth_power
#2 Do You Draw Arts For Free
Image credits: jonarton
#3 Found On My Tattoo Artists Instagram
Image credits: leontfilmss
We wanted to find out why artists are such common targets for people demanding free work. Here’s what a representative of The Freelancer Club team had to say: “Artists throughout history have always been supported by the aristocracy. Patrons such as the Medici family would commission the masters to create works of art in the Renaissance era. Perhaps it stems from childhood. The idea of kids doodling with finger paints is seen as an infantile pursuit and this leaves an association in the adult mind.”
They continued: “We have found amongst our members that freelancers who turn their passion into their profession often struggle with the business side of things. Knowing how much to charge, asking for money, writing a business plan, or setting business goals is not why they chose to get into freelancing. They also tend to work in sectors that leverage their cache to undervalue and exploit young talent such as the fashion, music and film industry. It’s a vicious cycle based on fear. Say ‘no’ to an unpaid ‘opportunity’ and someone else might take it. When the talent is willing to work for free, businesses take advantage.”
#4 Does This Work?
Image credits: merryprankstr2
#5 Can I Have A Birthday Discount?
Image credits: II-I-Hulk-I-II
#6 The Disrespect To Makeup Artists
Image credits: Dustinj1991
Unfortunately, artists appear to be very undervalued. “Creative thinking is one of the most sought after characteristics amongst business leaders and yet undervalued when not positioned within an economic context. Artistic skills, when reframed in certain professions, seem to be valued a lot more. A UI Designer or Graphic Designer who uses digital creative tools is able to command a far higher wage than a fine artist.”
The Freelancer Club has been running a campaign called #NoFreeWork for the past 6 years. It speaks out against the exploitation of unpaid work in the creative industry. “We visit universities and creative institutions speaking about the importance of this issue and how the next generation of creative minds must value themselves by saying ‘no’ to unpaid work,” the representative said.
“We also contact companies who repeatedly post unpaid roles online and we have been in talks with the [UK] Government to change legislation to provide creative freelancers with more legal protection. It requires all sides of the industry to become educated on this matter and a collective effort to put an end to the exploitation.”
You can sign The Freelancer Club’s #NoFreeWork petition right here.
#7 I Can’t Belive These People… They Don’t Understand Nail Techs, Escorts, Artists, Ect. Actually Make A Living Off Of This
Image credits: lettisha
#8 Good To Know
Image credits: TheGameGuy55
#9 Can You Draw Me?
Image credits: jonarton
In an earlier interview with We, The Freelancer Club team told us more about the culture of working for exposure.
“Many see freelancers, particularly in the creative sector, as hobbyists and believe they can get away with ‘paying’ in exposure. They leverage their audience size, their brand name, or the allure of gaining recognition. This is why services in exchange for exposure is commonplace in glamorous sectors such as fashion, music, and film,” a representative of The Freelancer Club went into detail about the culture of work-for-exposure.
“From a freelancer point of view, they are often told that working for exposure is a rite of passage or an essential part of building a portfolio by their teachers, college professors, and peers. This has created a culture of exploitation that we must address at both ends.”
#10 I Draw Pieces Inspired By Historical Art Styles And Sometimes Do Tattoo Designs For People. Today I Had My First Choosing Beggar Experience
Image credits: GrafSpoils
#11 I Follow A Professional Painter Who Is Dealing With Some Corporate Choosing Beggars
Image credits: karliecorn
#12 I Paint And Do Calligraphy And Hand Lettering. Conversation I Had Last Night With My Cousins “Friend”
Image credits: siriuslestrange
According to them, working for exposure or for free damages not only freelance artists’ career prospects but also affects the industry as a whole—in a negative way.
“In the UK, unpaid work costs every freelancer £5,394 per year and the figure is very similar in the States. If you give up your work for exposure thinking you will get paid work from it in the future, the statistics show this is rarely the case, besides, shouldn’t additional work be a consequence of a paid job anyway? If someone is willing to promote your work, they must value it so why not pay them! It’s easy to get into a cycle of working for exposure and never get paid.”
#13 Am I Making Sense?
Image credits: throwraboobs
#14 Cb Wants My Adult Coloring Book For 9,000 Exposure Bucks
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#15 My Friend Got Shorted By A Pretty Major Influencer
Image credits: The_amazingluke
The main reasons why people work for exposure are because they hope that they’ll get paid work in the future, that they’ll add to their portfolio, or that they’ll use the name of the company that promotes their work. Not only that, it feels good to know that your creative work gets to be seen by a lot of people.
“Many creative people are told to ‘get a real job’ when they express their desire to do something artistic. Seeing their work in print, online, or gaining recognition somehow validates their decision and, in a twisted way, proves the doubters wrong. The irony is that they have given up their value to do so,” The Freelancer Club’s rep said.
“Work out your day rate. Once you know your value, get comfortable talking about money, and stick to your guns. We’ve proven that working for exposure rarely results in paid work, collaborate with other creatives or set a self-project to build your portfolio and keep in mind that the culture of working for exposure is very damaging to you and to your industry. You are talented—value yourself and others will value you too.”
#16 I Offered To Do Something More Simple For Free Only To Be Threatened With Reporting… I Don’t Mind Doing Free Chibi Art At All And Have Even Posted That I’m Doing Free Chibi Style But Yet Still Get People Asking For Full Body Detailed Work For Free
Image credits: Strawberry_Milk97
#17 Person Beg For Free Art And Ends Blocked. Then Creates Another Account To Threat The Artist
Image credits: TunaXI
#18 Life As A Nail Artist
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#19 This Happened To One Of My Friends On Twitter
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#20 I Started Actually Taking My Art Seriously About A Month Ago, And I Got My First Choosing Beggar… I Think I’ve Made It Big Guys
Image credits: Bun_Boi
#21 Professional Photographer Wants Local “Models” To Pay Her To Fulfill Her Own Vision
Image credits: Auguss6782
#22 Tell Em
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#23 A Brief But Insightful 4 Minute Conversation
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#24 Well, That Escalated Quickly. Guess I Should Make My Hell Reservations
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#25 “Friend” Begs Artist For Free Art
Image credits: str1ngcheesetheory
#26 “Your Art Is Mediocre At Best So Please Design Me A Free Tattoo”
Image credits: meow_mayhem
#27 Advanced Choosing Beggar
Image credits: WanderingOwl
#28 I Charge 20-50 Dollars For A Realistic Portrait And One Of My Followers Just Said I’m Overcharging (I Never Made An Advertisement, I Just Say Yes When People Ask Since I’m Just A Hobbyist)
Image credits: kommityeet
#29 Artist Should Live With Their Parents And Draw For Free
Image credits: DAX2FAST
#30 My Buddy Is A Tattoo Artist. He’s Also My Personal Hero
Image credits: TheBrennanCo