Dear Future Employer of Artists (Reality)

Date: 2010-02-07, 10:43AM MST
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Dear Future Employer of Artists,

7FEB2010 – Maybe you need a graphic artist for your t-shirt or print shop or maybe you need a freelance designer for your ad agency or maybe you need a painter for a mural or portrait or maybe a musician or a photographer/videographer. That’s great, and I hope you find what you want in Craigslist, but please try to remember that we are professionals like carpenters, plumbers, chefs, electricians, etc. We do not work for free when compensation is warranted for a job requiring skills and professionalism that only the artist can bring to the table.

1. If you are dead broke or just plain don’t have the cash to pay for the services of an educated, experienced professional artist, of any type, then for the love of God DO NOT put your ad in the JOBS or GIGS section of Craigslist. Put it in the ‘Artists’ category in the ‘Community’ section where you can state your case, whatever it may be for why you expect the artist to work for you for free. But offer SOMETHING! A Barter/Trade arrangement can be really cool sometimes! (I got a brand new 120 GB Hd MacIntosh G4 Silver one summer for designing about 20 t-shirts for some sporting goods co.) Free tickets to the movies, some pumpkin pie, an old TV, a massage, etc. Honestly, if I put an ad in CL asking for a plumber to come to my house and install a toilet for free how do you think that would work out? Ever notice how you don’t see ANY ads in the newspaper for art jobs that don’t pay ?

2. If you are an employer or a large or small business that operates to earn a profit and actually have employees on a payroll then DO NOT EVEN DARE to advertise for an artist and check the ‘no pay’ box in the ‘Compensation’ section. When you put this: “Compensation: no pay” in your Craigslist Ad then you are saying you attach no real value to the talent, time & efforts of the artist you need to complete your project. This is like acid to professional artists – we hate seeing this. When you hire a plumber or carpenter or even order a pizza can you do so without having to pay for the goods or services rendered? No, so for the love of Christ, don’t be one of the many presumptuous and exploitative (clueless?) entitiesthat devalue the services of professional artists that need to make a living to pay rent, eat solid food, raise children, etc…

3. Don’t try to get around paying the artist by offering ‘exposure’ or ‘full credit’ or ‘chance to pad your portfolio’. (See example below.) Do you really think ‘exposure’ and ‘full credit’ are so great that we will just jump at the chance to work for nothing? We need to be paid for our work; much like the way you pay at the supermarket for food… and it also means you are probably going to wind up exploiting the living soul right out of some naive, starry-eyed, passionate, all-American beef & corn-fed kid-student and we hate that too because more often than not we have been there ourselves at some point in our career. And as far as my portfolio goes why would I want to work on your no-value to me, no payment project when I can do my own way-cool stuff for my own portfolio all by myself!? I mean, really! How many landscapers out there you know are gonna’ come over to your house and re-sod your lawn and plant trees for the ‘credit’ or ‘exposure’? It’s very insulting to artists in every sense. Plus, and this is common sense: If you attach no value to the artists’ work necessary to complete your project then you are in turn telling us that your project is a sorry, backburner one deserving of no respect. Kinda’ like advertising for a top-of-the-line chef to come over your house and cook hot dogs & burgers for your dog.

4. If you are an artist and you see an ad that asks you to submit a ‘test’ or ‘design sample’ of a specific job or project they need completed -or- ask for your submissions as part of a ‘contest’ to win the gig or contract then they are setting you up to take advantage of you. You see, they NEED your services and your talent to complete whatever project it is they have in mind not the other way around. How many professional tradespeople do you know that start or complete a job before settling on the cost and payment ? And guess what – if you send them your work before you are paid for it then you probably never will be because by handing it over without a signed agreement you have just given up all the rights to your artwork. Think about it like this: would you go to a restaurant and expect to be able to eat the day’s special and not pay for it because the special at the restaurant next door is better? The industry standard is: 50% deposit BEFORE work is started, balance upon COMPLETION!

5. Be reasonable! If you are looking for a photographer, videographer, dj, muralist, designer, musician, singer, craftsperson, etc. and you require them to be a degreed, experienced, professional and use their own equipment and transportation then be prepared to pay them a fair & reasonable wage. Some of these gigs net the artists up to $1000/day and more! And let me tell you: once we have started doing gigs/jobs that pay fair we will not be doing the ones that don’t pay fair anymore. Kudos to you for being able to offer a wage, even if it is low. But again, be reasonable. If you can only pay the qualified artist $8/hour then don’t expect him/her to jump thru too many hoops to actually get the job (tests, free samples, multiple auditions, etc.) – it’s demeaning, demoralizing and will ultimately detract from the level of respect the artist should have for you as a paying client.

6. Don’t assume ALL artists are fools! If you need pieces of original artwork to be rendered, designed, drawn, painted, etc. then be prepared to pay for ALL of the work that leads up to and includes the accepted design. None of this: submit 30 designs and if we like some of them we will pay you for the ones we like! Are you kidding me? So, what? The housepainter paints 8 rooms in your house and you only like what he did in 6 of the rooms so you are only going to pay him for the 6 rooms? Come on!

Sample of a typical sh*tty CL ad:

Wanted** Artists to paint a wall in my house (Leesburg)
Reply to: [?]
Date: 2008-10-19, 3:35PM EDT

I am looking for some artists to paint a wall in my house. I am really into murals and abstracts. All I can offer is free exposure. Let me know what you’re interested in. I would like to see prior work as well. Thank you.

*Compensation: no pay

My version:

I am looking for some plumbers to install a toilet in my house. I am really into toilets and plumbing. I know plumbers work for free all the time for credit and exposure and are independently wealthy so all I can offer is credit, free exposure, a website with a place to sell your old toilets. Let me know what you’re interested in. I would like to see prior toilet installations as well. Thank you for allowing me to assume I could screw you over and take advantage of your talent, education and experience without having to pay you like I would have to pay any other self-respecting professional tradesperson…

ARTISTS: Feel free to add to this list and copy it to any Craigslist anywhere where you see an ad that wants to take advantage of our talent, education and experience. Then FLAG that presumptive ad!

  • Location: Reality
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: Hourly; 50% Deposit – Balance Upon Completion

PostingID: 1590115550