Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Should You Work for Free?


I just came across yet another discussion on LinkedIn about whether an artist should work for free, be it for exposure or on spec. There is no dearth of these kind of discussions, because there are always people who think it’s fine for artists to ‘contribute’ for free, either because they don’t understand that art-making is work or because they want something for nothing. The interesting – and sad – part is that some artists are actually willing to play along with this and to their own detriment.

You could explain why it is not right and not to your benefit to work for free or on spec, how it harms your career and your self-respect, how it negatively affects the whole industry in the long run, and you will still come across some fellow artist who will raise a dissenting voice and repeat all the schlock about ‘exposure’ and ‘prestige’. I'm not sure if they really believe it or if they simply want to be contrary, and, of course, what someone wants to do in their life is their own concern, but it is not a career-enhancing strategy. Except for doing things for your family, close ones, and any cause really important to you, which is a totally different matter, there really is no professional benefit to spreading yourself thin for nothing in return.

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