Craig’s Pissed

January 23, 2007

I’m a self-employed graphic designer. In the old days, when I was greener than a leprechaun’s testicles, nothing would make me consider suicide quicker than a potential client who was, in fact, just some deluded jackass. The hook was usually, “If you do this job cheap, I’ve loads more work for you!” and I bought that line more times than anyone with an ounce of sense ought to have.

This morning, the following was posted on CraigsList. It’s been doing the rounds on design boards and blogs in a big community whoop because it captures and excoriates so perfectly the ignorance and arrogance inflicted on designers by design morons.

The post was quickly flagged and removed (i.e. censored) by CraigsList users, but not before it became the gift that keeps on giving. Who was that masked crusader? Designers everywhere owe him a hot coffee and a big hug.


Post from CraigsList

Every day, there are more and more Craigs List posts seeking “artists” for everything from auto graphics to comic books to corporate logo designs. More people are finding themselves in need of some form of illustrative service.

But what they’re NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be.

To those who are “seeking artists”, let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? …none?

More than likely, you don’t know any. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be posting on craigslist to find them.

And this is not really a surprise.

In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you offer a neurosurgeon the “opportunity” to add your name to his resume as payment for removing that pesky tumor? (Maybe you could offer him “a few bucks” for “materials”. What a deal!)

Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered “yes” to ANY of the above, you’re obviously insane. If you answered “no”, then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me… why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know;

1. It is not a “great opportunity” for an artist to have his work seen on your car/’zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a “great opportunity” for YOU to have their work there.

2. It is not clever to seek a “student” or “beginner” in an attempt to get work for free. It’s ignorant and insulting. They may be “students”, but that does not mean they don’t deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a “student” once, too. Would you have taken that job at McDonalds with no pay, because you were learning essential job skills for the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid.

3. The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it’s one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their “portfolio”. They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It’s not compensation. It’s their right, and it’s a given.

4. Stop thinking that you’re giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them. There are far more jobs needing these skills than there are people who possess these skills.

5. Students DO need “experience”. But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away. In fact, this does not even offer them the experience they need. Anyone who will not/can not pay them is obviously the type of person or business they should be ashamed to have on their resume anyway. Do you think professional contractors list the “experience” they got while nailing down a loose step at their grandmother’s house when they were seventeen?

If you your company or gig was worth listing as desired experience, it would be able to pay for the services it received. The only experience they will get doing free work for you is a lesson learned in what kinds of scrubs they should not lower themselves to deal with.

6. (This one is FOR the artists out there, please pay attention.) Some will ask you to “submit work for consideration”. They may even be posing as some sort of “contest”. These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the “contest”, or be “chosen” for the gig, and find what they like most. They will then usually have someone who works for them, or someone who works incredibly cheap because they have no originality or talent of their own, reproduce that same work, or even just make slight modifications to it, and claim it as their own. You will NOT be paid, you will NOT win the contest. The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or “spec”, work. It’s risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely. For more information on this subject, please visit

So to artists/designers/illustrators looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you. Whether they are “spec” gigs, or just some guy who wants a free mural on his living room walls. They need you. You do NOT need them.

And for those who are looking for someone to do work for free… please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you’re accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need. Get a clue.


135 Responses to “Craig’s Pissed”

  1. buuub Says:

    amen brother . . . amen

  2. My Name Says:

    Shabadawongahay muderfucker, this should be thought in colleges around the world

  3. […] I can’t agree more with the full article. I’ve spent my time scouring for jobs on Craigslist before and it just becomes sickening. I highly suggestion that you read the full entry, Craig’s Pissed at position : relative. […]

  4. jhuskisson Says:

    as buuub said – amen 😉

  5. Vernon Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I would like to shake that masked crusader’s hand!

  6. Stevem Says:

    As a photographer….

    Exchange the word photographer for illustrator, and you have the very same situation. It seems like all creative work is being devalued in our society. The situation is made worse by gullible students and beginners willing to give away their work.

    Don’t even get me started on rights grabs and how photographers are getting screwed by everyone from Associated Press and Reuters to couples getting married.

    It used to be that a decent living could be made as a creative professional. Not any more…

  7. web development Says:

    What?!?!?!? :-@
    “Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?”
    Yes this happens to web hosts and more importantly web developers all the mother F*ing time.
    Just google free web hosting. Watch how many companies pop up.
    Look I may agree with other fields, but we web people deal with the same crap you do. So don’t get on your soapbox feeling like you’re the only one crapped on, on a daily basis.

  8. Rincewind Says:

    I could have used this article when I was starting out and it is a good reminder now. It speaks to a lack of confidence and the inherent need that creative people have for attention and approval.

    To satisfy this urge I have chosen a couple of worthy non-profit organizations to which I donate my abilities. They are grateful for the help, and I have no expectation of anything back from them other than they use my work for good purposes.

  9. i must say that this hits close to home for me as a designer. I can not count how many times that I have been ripped off of payments or told “i will have more projects lined up for you.”

    I think this article is right on the money. And young designers should be aware of the morons out there.

  10. richwalkup Says:

    I agree with most of what is contained within this article, but I have a few things to add. Spec work is not always BS. Since I have worked with some very talented designers over the years, I find that most “designers” are lucky they can freehand a stick figure without screwing it up. Just because you claim to be a designer does not make you so. At least in the IT field (my field) there are competency tests to measure skill. The person may still be an idiot but at least you can test their knowledge level to some degree. In design, you have nothing to go on outside of a portfolio (has it been plagerized?) so I often ask for some spec work – at least a storyboard and concept – before signing anyone to a significant contract.

    I agree people should get paid for their work, but for this posters next rant, maybe he could help people like me by giving us information on how to better source a competent designer without going through some middleman agency or *gasp* asking for spec work.

    • Keith Says:

      First of all, why is this person suddenly a man? This was posted before the writer’s identity could be divined.

      Second of all, why is IT bitching about designers? Maybe try putting pen to paper before you put “designers” in quotes. Guess what – people go to school for it and there IS a standard. It’s that piece of paper they’ve paid way too much for, called a “degree”, “mister” “quotations”.

    • Ellen B. Eder | Visual Communication Says:

      “how to better source a competent designer without going through some middleman agency or *gasp* asking for spec work.”

      Please find your city’s AIGA chapter ( ,) and contact a volunteer about your specific needs re: a competent freelance designer. You will be pointed in the right direction.

      Say NO to Spec! This is done by working out a fair contract (in writing,) in which both parties agree to specific terms and monetary compensation. Thanks.

  11. Ryan Says:

    Could not agree more. I’m don’t understand why this was flagged down on Craigslist, but I’m glad I had a chance to read it and spread it further.

  12. Justin Case Says:

    It’s the same with many job postings on craigslist. I see the same exact shit for programming gigs. Everyone wants you to work for free, or for a few beans, and make tons of money themselves. I worked dirt cheap for a guy who wanted everything done immediately. After getting a decent job I cut him loose — but get this…I called the company that created his website, and did a lot of initial work for him, and they were charging him 5 times as much than he was paying me. What a fucking joke.

    Craigslist would probably be better suited for these gigs listings if people were able to establish reputations on there. Then you could at least weed out some of the bad companies and people with such an insatiable lust for free workers. But then again, a lot of us are dumb when first starting out and take those kinds of jobs till we learn it’s not worth it.

  13. Evan Says:

    I feel you entirely. The idea even of an “unpaid internship” is revolting. I’ve worked several paid internships in the newspaper business for minimum wage and barely scraped by.
    I realize everyone has to put their time in, but this amounts to little more than indentured servitude where a company gets a skilled individual to work full-time for little or no money.
    Unfortunate but true.

  14. Lee Says:

    And that is but one of the reasons I left the “Profession” after 15 years.

    I still don’t get why it was flagged on CraigsList. If it were posted in the Rants and Raves section, I’ve seen more offensive posts remain indefinitely.

  15. Gary R. Hess Says:

    This is the exact thing my Graphic Illustration said last semester.

  16. Gabriel Says:

    I love this text. Not getting paid is one thing, but being lead by ignorants who doesn’t have any sense of design or ergonomy… more frustrating !

  17. Webomatica Says:

    Some good points there. I think the average joe has the concept of the “starving artist” literally and figures if artists are already used to starving they’ll be desperate for money and therefore ripe for taking advantage of ie. they will take any job at a lowball rate.

  18. mekster Says:

    Bravo man, bravo.
    Insanely well-written.

  19. sean Says:

    i guess i think the market tends to work itself out. if what you do is in such high demand then the price will rise to reflect it. if the design work can be satisfactorily accomplished by requesting a student do it for cheap wages, then your complaint is misplaced to blame the person/company that is perfectly satisfied with hiring cheap labor. perhaps designers can beg other designers not to work for such low wages? that is one way to combat this, but you’ll never get anywhere complaining about ignorant people trying to pull a fast one on designers if what they are doing is working . . . maybe they aren’t so ignorant after all. ;~)

  20. Shycon Says:

    :: sniff sniff :: This post made me cry. I’ve been offered many times in my earlier days the same empty promises that you speak. Never once did I take people up on them, but it boggles my mind why people do this to artists and designers, while not to doctors and lawyers.

    This is for all you up and coming designers. The real world works like this: You get paid. It is your responsibility to get some sort of deposit before you begin working. The companies that do these things to designers are sketchy at best, and probably won’t be around for a long time. Don’t give them fodder to work with.

  21. Joshua Gay Says:

    This is a really good article and I have to admit, I’ve asked some young designers to do work for me for free. On the other hand it has all been for non-profit stuff I wasn’t getting payed for, and nobody was making money . . . but, still. On the other hand, there are a lot of aspiring artists/illustrators out there that suck, that aren’t in school, and that don’t have any experience. I wonder if it is time better spent getting ripped off by a small company or just building ones own portfolio to get customers. One difference between a Neuroscientist and an Illustrator is that the Neuroscientist has a huge barrier to entry gauranteed, while I was hired at the age of 15 with almost no talent, almost no experience, but i did a pretty good job and I got payed well. Now I do study computational neuroscience, and I must say, it’s a lot harder to break into this field! but, kudos to this author, his point is well taken and should be spread around 🙂

  22. Erika Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Here in Brazil it’s exactly the same shit, it makes us really sick and tired of this people.

  23. Jayx Says:

    People want shit for free all the time and many actually believe that it is not at all impossible to actually get that – FUCK, if that was not the case, spammers would be having a really tough time of it. What does “Open Source” mean? People think: “FREE”. What does copyright mean to any one? People think: “Crack it.”, “Hack it.”, “Photoshop it.” … whatever it takes – just don’t “Pay for it.” FREE LIVE SEX WEBCAMS … and all of a sudden I have everyone’s attention. Being in an artistic line of employment is not easy. Customers shop around for the best quote and then they still expect top shelf work and inevitably get what they pay for. 9 times out of 10 they walk away with a lesser opinion of the design fraternity and are doubly cautious the next time they go out shopping design work and think their paranoia is justified, over shit they brought on themselves. Get this: I REALLY COULDN’T GIVE A FUCK HOW MANY DESIGNERS SCREWED YOU OVER YOU TIGHTWAD CUNT!!! I too am sick and tired of hearing the same old bullshit stories. If I am to suffer the lifestyle of a struggling artist, then it’ll be my choice – not the consequence of some self-absorbed tit who believes the rich should be getting richer and that artists are throw-away rags to wipe their spiffy little corporate identities to a shine on.

  24. Ronald Lewis Says:

    As others have commented, I cannot understand why this was flagged. R&R is exactly what it is, and this fit the bill well.

    Anyway, great read.

  25. rip747 Says:

    This goes for us ColdFusion programmers as well.

  26. Ehren Cheung Says:

    I think the guy who posted has a major point. However from my perspective, I wouldn’t lump everyone necessarily together. Sure, there are the business people who think they know design but don’t and then there are those who are cheapskates, but I think there are also a lot of people out there who are trying to strive for their dreams just as each and every one of us are doing. I think if I were just starting out, and I found another mom and pop shop that were just starting out as well, I’d help them out with a few things. I believe some sort of symbiotic existence is called for in order to succeed. So bravo to the man who has brought attention to a major issue that has revolved around people who deal with starting off in an industry that is highly competitive. At the same time, don’t stop believing that there are people, businesses and organizations out there that need a hand as well.

    • Ehren,

      I agree. I’m a professional blogger and I worked for free for a long time to build up my audience. Would I rather get paid? Sure. Is my work worth a fee that honors my skills? Of course. But don’t most small business owners have to work “for free” before their business start to make a profit? I know friends with brick-and-mortar business who have worked for a couple years before they could start drawing a regular paycheck off of their professional skills.

      Now I’ve saved up a little bit of money (a couple grand) and I’ve partnered with a graphic designer who, after getting hit by layoffs at the firm he was working for, is also going solo. He’s giving me a low-end hourly rate, and I’m promoting his work amongst my customers as well as personally giving him more work. We’ve done three projects now, and I have more lined up for him. As my business slowly grows, he gets more work from me. As he learns the ropes of moving from print to web design, he starts charging me more the “going rate.” It’s really working out for us.

      Since I don’t have start-up money to hire my fellow professionals, I also barter with other writers to provide my clients with articles from a wide range of perspectives. And I’ve hired someone who is starting out as a VA (virtual assistant) at a low-end rate because she is still learning the ropes, but needs some work and some referrals. So far, all of this has been win-win for all the parties involved.

      I think there’s a difference between people who are just trying to scam free work, and those who are looking for mutually beneficial creative partnerships.

  27. Cliff Says:

    I would like to comment on item six. I hope in the interests of free speech, you won’t delete this.

    I have ran a contest on craigslist requesting free submissions. Some artists were very cynical and sent joke submissions, but I did get one I selected and I paid out. You may not have won any of these contests, but they are not scams.

    If I had had the ability to copy other peoples work and make something similar, I would not have bothered going on craigslist and asking for artwork. The fact is that many of these contests require participants to use actual company names and what you are describing might not be practical.

  28. Jacob Says:

    I peruse the art/design/media boards regularly and I am so glad someone finally put into words what crosses my mind on a daily basis.

    A big, whopping amen to this. I’ve designed for screenprint (among other things) for 6+ years, and it is so frustrating that – in such a specialized industry – people are MORE likely to want something for nothing.

    I hope this spreads far and wide.

  29. Rob Says:

    The thing you have to realize with Craigslist is that it is swarming with people who want something for nothing.

    The institution of a $25 fee for would-be employers has barred the lowest bottom-feeders, but dipshits still abound (kind of like life in that sense).

    So, my advice to you is ‘quit whinging and be more selective about who you work with’.

  30. Stephen Says:

    Craig’s list gigs&jobs are a joke and an insult, I agree. I am a web developer, and on occasion I have looked at the gigs on craig’s list and they are beyond insulting. Same as design jobs (do this for free, it is good experience, I have more work where this came from etc, etc). People want someone with “five years of php experience, great database skills and excellent design” for $10/hour. I can’t imagine the idiots and high school kids they get for those jobs. My company pays very well ($70k+) for web devs and we can’t find qualified candidates. I actually suspect that these people are just clueless and have no idea that web development/design/etc is a profession that people get paid to do. I think there is a lot of “my kid can make a website, so it must only cost like $500 to get one” type people out there.

  31. mac mcrae Says:

    @ richwalkup dugg down for missing the point of the rant. This not about screening an artist. This about corporate assholes trying to get something for nothing.

  32. S. Weasel Says:

    Oh, man…resonate? I guess! If I had a nickel for every time some clueless loser said to me, “I have this great idea for a children’s book…” Well, at least I’d have a nickel. Which is more than said loser is offering me. Happened to me recently: “you do the artwork, we split the profit.”

    Ummm…I do the work, we split the money? What, did you think I couldn’t come up with the idea, too?

  33. Mike Kelp Says:

    While I am a musician, I can definitely say that this applies to developers as well. I develop web applications using ColdFusion, Java, and Flex and have fallen into bad situations with speculative work on so many occasions it scares me sometimes to remember them all.

    With the web becoming much more rich in interface design and fast-paced, clean development this type of pressure often hooks the passionate and creative developer trying to get themselves and their ideas out there (though many don’t really see how “creative” applies to development).

    Thanks for a great post!


  34. Brandi Says:

    Ahh, the anthem to all artists…. Now if only the rest of the world really understood these facts… That we, as artists, should be looked upon as someone with a hobby and not a real profession, drives me up the proverial wall. (As you’d never catch me up the real wall, painting someone’s mural for free.)

    While I don’t personally look for work on Craig’s List, I can tell you (and to some of those above who are telling you to suck it up and shut up, in not so many words) that this is the attitude EVERYWHERE, not just on Craig’s List. I can’t tell you how many potential jobs were immediately gone when someone found out what I charged for work. Not because I overcharge by any means, but because they expected to pay little to nothing. And that’s just the way the rest of the world sees artists I’m afraid…

  35. […] following text was taken from it consists of a craigslist thread posted by someone in support of getting paid for the work that […]

  36. M Phillips Says:

    I remember seeing this when it posted and voted for ‘CL’s Best of’. This needs to be posted in 72 pt boldface type in every design and art school in the US. The young artists and creative kids are just so easily swayed by praise that they get too eager and do it for nothing. I have heard the same claims to send me more work or they’ll reccomend people to me. The only thing they will tell their business associates is how little they paid for it and sell you short as they call you a talanted genius. All you do by underselling your work is cut your own throat and every other artist trying to make a living as an artist.
    Talent is rare, charge like it.

  37. AR Says:

    To richwalkup:

    Ask for a resume like anyone else trying to hire someone. Ask for a portfolio too- this shows you what they can do.

  38. Henry Says:

    Same thing in the computing industry. Well, I don’t know about craigslist, the “local” ads for Iowa are fake, and really have like New York #s and/or are for temp agencies. But, in person, I have gotten offers such as:

    Design and setup a custom cash register system, and I’d get like $20 in pizza coupons. If they’d bought a system and just needed help setting it up, I might have done it. But, they had some PCs and that was it. So, really, they wanted me to write software that usually sells for like $800/copy, and help select whatever cash drawers and receipt printers they would eventually buy (they didn’t have those either.) Oh, then since I was writing the software I’d have to dig in again and make it work with those drawers and printers. No thanks!

    Design and setup a video digitization system so a local cable TV station that is playing everything off tape currently could digitize things and avoid tape wear. “I can’t pay you, but maybe I’d be able to eventually if things take off.” I know this guy well enough that he wouldn’t try to rip me off, but switching from tape->digital isn’t really going to save money (so they wouldn’t be freeing up cash to pay me in the future either..) and the system would be maintenance-free if done right, so really there’d be no incentive for anyone to pay me once they have the box.

    Yeah… these are even worse really, since the “free publicity” type argument wouldn’t even apply. Needless to say I said “no” to both offers 8-).

  39. Joan Says:

    I am a retired computer programmer; I used to build custom software for insurance companies. I have worked for free only once (aside from small favors for friends). It was a good experience for the following reasons:

    1. It was for an organization that served a good cause that I care about, giving away most of their own services to people genuinely in need. Their reputation said they were good people and I was glad to help.

    2. The manager of volunteers at this outfit worked closely with me and later, when I went back to the world of paying work, was my main reference, helping me get a good job.

    3. The organization was a genuine 501(c)3 charity, so if I had needed a tax deduction I could have kept track of the hours I worked for them, multiplied by the going hourly rate, and counted it all as if it had been a cash donation of that amount.

    I don’t disagree with anything that’s been said on this subject so far, but I want people to know that if you’re careful and keep your own values and priorities in mind (rather than coming from a headspace of low self-esteem and desperate attention-hunger) pro bono work (as the legal profession calls it) can be rewarding.

  40. Bless you and whoever wrote that post;)

    No comps for free is the cardinal rule, and if any new designers ever have questions about this industry, open invitation to contact us whenever they’d like, but head the above warnings nonetheless.

  41. omnivore Says:

    while this is all true, how many tens of thousands, or more realistically tens of millions of jobs have disappeared in the industrialized west in the past twenty years, and gone where they can be done for rates per day that they used to charge per hour?

    Illustration is *not* a trained profession, and neither is design. You can take training, but its not required. On the other hand, machinists, and assembly line workers who have lost their jobs as I described above often have a great deal of training to qualify them for their positions, and employers will verify this before they hire. Ditto mechanics.

    The reason that the logic of capitalism has not moved illustration and design jobs offshore is precisely the lack of qualification, unionization, guilds, effective professional organizations etc. that act to secure a living wage for these jobs. I this ever happens, the jobs will move to India, Taiwan, Brazil, China or wherever else the logic of capital determines that they need to go. I worked for five years, teaching at the pre-eminent design school in my country, and I got to listen to the bleating about professionalizing the practice, precisely for the reasons that triggered the Craigslist rant. Great in theory, but it never happened, because everyone in that faculty knew that they were the priviliged few, often differentiated by luck, not talent, that could make a good living out of it. Why would they jeopardize their situation to benefit those coming up? But unless the leaders of a profession – or more precisely, a trade subscribe, it won’t happen.

    My grandfather, and my mother were both highly esteemed illustrators. Both had training, and both did long, poorly paid apprenticeships in England that most everyone working in the field today would refuse to do. The value of those apprenticeships was that if you got through them, others in the profession knew who you were, vouched for you, and sent you the work that they no longer did. They didn’t need Craigslist – the job was such that the work you did as an apprentice was the way you secured work in later years: later you did the same for younger illustrators coming up. They never considered what they did anything other than a trade. This system was over by 1970, and it influenced my decision not to do what my forebears had done.

    So suck it up: the same system that fucks over today’s soi-disant illustrators and designers is what gives you your cheap computers, iPods, cars, affordable third-world resorts, disposable clothing, ikea furniture — in short, everything that makes our over-leveraged lives what they are. You don’t get to pick and choose…

  42. […] This post started on Craigslist and has been making the rounds just about everywhere there are artists, including myspace. As someone who started out as a promising illustrator and went into graphic design to pay the bills, this is really nothing new and it’s sad. For years the industries of illustration and photographers especially have been suffering. The work these highly skilled professionals are just not valued in our society. Even companies that can afford to hire them are skimping out and using clip art and stock art. Sad, sad, sad. This author may be preaching to the choir but I say, tell it! Enjoy the post! […]

  43. felix Says:

    Of course I agree, I’m a programmer and designer. But keep in mind it was probably flagged because it was in jobs rather than in rants. It only takes one finicky person to flag it. Don’t blame the community or craigslist; its just not that political.

    My rant: if a musician puts out an independent record he doesn’t get paid. the distributor, the pressing plant, the record store, the printers, the post office, sometimes the label and often times the graphic designer !!! all of them get paid, but the artist whose record it is is expected to do it just for art.

  44. […] If you want to read the post that got the Craigslist community in a fascist mood, it can be found in this blog post on positon:relative. […]

  45. Bertrand Russell Says:

    “… [T]he whole cast-iron discipline of a modern industrial society [has] atrophied the artistic impulse, and imprisoned love so that it can no longer be generous and free and creative, but must be either stuffy or furtive. Control has been applied to the very things which should be free, while envy, cruelty, and hate sprawl at large with the blessing of nearly the whole bench of Bishops.” Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays, 1928

    As a designer, I’ve taken a few proficiency tests to ‘prove’ myself, after showing my portfolio, so that is pretty common. Also if it hasn’t been said already, I would say that the ignorance is coming from people who really don’t understand the design process (as it relates to graphic design, anyway). I’ve worked with some really creative people (in music or dance) and they get this blank look on their face when I try to describe what I do. I hear this a lot, “just make it look good.” I know people in other fields hear similar things and get the blank stares, too. It’s too bad there’s such a lack of understanding.

    Great post though. Thanks for putting it up here for all to see!

  46. Gordon Says:

    Great post and, as others have said, is not exclusive to illustrators and designers. Try checking out the writing and editing listings. The “glory” of getting your name or work in print is a false commodity across all the creative arts.

  47. Henry Says:

    “Both had training, and both did long, poorly paid apprenticeships in England that most everyone working in the field today would refuse to do. The value of those apprenticeships was that if you got through them, others in the profession knew who you were, vouched for you, and sent you the work that they no longer did. They didn’t need Craigslist – the job was such that the work you did as an apprentice was the way you secured work in later years: later you did the same for younger illustrators coming up. They never considered what they did anything other than a trade. This system was over by 1970, and it influenced my decision not to do what my forebears had done.”
    Nice. I’d love an apprenticeship type system. I WOULD work for apprenticeship-level wages and do pro-bono as it were, if an apprenticeship system actually existed to get me more and better work in future. I won’t work for apprenticeship-level wages for no benefit though, which unfortunately I see a lot of.

  48. Robert Says:

    One thing I would like to add … Also beware of the offers to have a piece of someone’s startup company in return for work. I fell for that a couple of times back in the day. “Do this work and you will get a percentage of the company.” Usually you will end up just wasting a whole lot of your time. The odds are that their so-called “company” ends up going nowhere.

  49. […] Link to original blog posting Posted by rip747 Filed in Rants […]

  50. Judy F Says:


    This applies to all creative professionals, including us lowly photographers.

    People wanting to “save money” are sadly willing to let their “brother in law who has a new digital camera” cover their events, instead of hiring someone who has worked and slaved to learn the skills.

  51. Di Says:


    I fell for something like that once, where a company offered to hire me but “wanted to test my skills first,” despite the fact that they saw my work and a detailed resume of what I was capable of doing. All I got in return was their “professional, OTHER designer” looking over my shoulder and telling me what I was doing wrong and questioning everything I did, including colors and designs, and disregarding my offers to try something they really needed to work on, like a website. In the end, they decided to call it a “temporary position, we promise we’ll call you when we need you” and never called me again.

    Thank you, Craig. I’m glad that it wasn’t because of something I did wrong.

  52. Peter Says:

    I used to be a desktop publisher, but over my ten year career, I saw my income steadily decline as the market became saturated with no-talent hacks with MS Publisher. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was not a professional illustrator. I can’t freehand a stick figure without screwing it up. However, I got very good at what I did, which was page layout.

    Many businesses are not interested in hiring a skilled designer. They don’t want creative skills, they want technical skills. They want quick and dirty, about the quality of a “lost dog” poster. The local Mom’n’Pop grocery store is not going to offer you full scale to make a sign that says “Bananas 20% Off!” They’re going to pay some kid ten bucks to type it into MS Word and print it on his inkjet in twelve colors. (They used to make those signs themselves with crayons, but now Joey’s got a PC and it just looks so much nicer.)

    The demise of commercial art is not because businesses want you to work for free, but because they are not going to pay you for your creative abilities. They can get someone with technical skills alone to do the job for cheap, which drives the market down.

    I was often asked to work for free or for cheap, and while I knew that I was contributing to the downturn of the commercial art market, I had to pay my bills. I underpriced myself many times to get a job, and regretted it every time. I had to underbid because that’s what the no-talent hacks are doing and I can’t compete with them on reputation alone. Neither can you.

    That being said, this CraigsList post ought to be pasted on the cover of every art school textbook. Don’t give yourself away! If they don’t hire you, they don’t hire you; they’ll get a hack and nine times out of ten they’ll be perfectly happy with the crap he produces. You will never get a reputation for quality if you produce the crap that they are happy with.

    One thing to add to the post: if someone is not willing to pay you more than $12/hour for your creativity now, what makes you think that they will be perfectly alright with paying you ten times that for all those jobs that will be coming up? You have to raise prices incrementally or you lose the customer, and if you start out too low, you’ve got an uphill battle for your entire career. If you start out working for free, the expectation is that you will continue working for free, and in fact you will. If you quote them a fair price from the get-go, you’ve got a fighting chance. They will know what they are paying for, and if you come through they will hire you again.

  53. Tony Says:

    Amen! As a designer I have run into this many, many times myself. Complete lack of respect for the talent and skill it takes to develop such materials.

  54. ryan Says:

    Hey, would any of you fine young lads be interested in getting some exposure in my new publication, “Douchebag Quarterly”? The pay wont be great at first, but I can promise lots of work in the future, and lots of exposure to.. well.. douchebags. Please send 3 examples of your work in .pdf format, your resume in a word doc, two 8.5×11 (@ 350ppi) cover layouts with concepts related to Douchebag Quarterly, 15$ and three .jpg’s of your balls to Thanks in advance.

  55. thedowd Says:

    Wow… as a budding still-in-school designer myself, reading that made me feel a bit bolder in my step. Why the hell should we let people shit all over us? I’ve always gotten the feeling that people look down on artists and designers since they see our work as “play” and not actually “work” (and boy how wrong they are) but I can usually just assume that is coming from ignorance. However, at the same time, whenever I look around as a student, the quickest outlet for my work to appear in a less localized sense (hanging on the wall in the studios at school) is to either enter a contest (pay money for a chance to make money/gain exposure) or to take internships, most of which are unpaid. I’ve done a couple of the former and the latter, one of which did turn into some paying work, but still… I really don’t get how you do it otherwise, cept maybe to be really damned good and not take bullshit from people; just gotta have huge balls? Dunno.

  56. NIK Says:

    Fuck people that think they can walk over you, i just walked out of a place like that! Try finding someone soon that’s as good as me. Sometimes it takes being broke for a few but, it’s hardcore design. If your hardcore, if your soft than go for the shit postions.
    Go BIG or go home!!!

  57. I’m a photographer, and I want to give a big hug and a hot coffee to whoever wrote this and to you for posting it here.

  58. […] Article on position : relative depicting the use and abuse of everyones favorite person.. the graphic and web designer. A […]

  59. Orio Double Says:


  60. Pete Says:

    Doing the work should always involve 1/2 up front and 1/2 when the job is done with a contract. Period. You get what you pay for.

  61. Age Says:

    Hit the nail right on the head!

  62. Stephen Says:

    This should be a credo for all true freelance artists. I can’t explain enough how frustrating it can be dealing with clients who think they can make absurd offers. You get what you pay for, so don’t settle for less. It’s a common trend for people nowadays to get free work or cheap labour for artists. My advice, don’t cave in to their demands, there are always legit offers out there.

  63. 10th Way Says:

    What a fantastic article! Straight to the point, I totally agree.

  64. Trust me this article is words of my heart. As a Custom Logo Designer I faced similar situation, when I was doing my graduation.

  65. […] This awesome article totally says it all. […]

  66. roxanne Says:

    call me crazy, but i don’t mind helping people out for free. not some company or individual that could afford to pay me, but isn’t… but helping someone execute ideas that might not otherwise come to light. it’s not all about money, right?

  67. Cardoso Says:

    That was one of the best articles I read this week.



  68. Kim Says:

    Oh yeah, I’ve been asked more than once while in school to do work for free to gain ‘experience’ – I did some of the work, depending on who was asking (family friends I help reguardless). I dont mind helping people who need it – but some basic compensation is always nice, even if its a batch of cookies or lunch.

    It does piss me off that people attempt to take advantage of anyone and everyone that they can. Most people who have no clue about graphic design think that its something easy and therefore can be obtained cheaply. My only remark on that is cheap artist – cheap artwork. (and no I dont mean reasonable cost – I mean CHEAP) 😛

  69. Cota Says:

    I stand and appluad you.

  70. Kristen Says:

    You rule. Thanks for saying what every freelance designer really needs to say!

  71. Daniel Says:

    You said it man. Hats off to you for telling it straight up. The sad thing is that because eager artists my age actually give in, this sort of exploitation keeps on happening. It’s great to point out that we are a rare breed and don’t need to take that crap.
    I was lucky enough to have a paid internship right out of high school, and yet I can’t imagine why anyone would accept an unpaid one.

  72. René Kabis Says:

    The work I do is well done, fast and affordable. Problem is, you can only choose two of the three.

    If it is well done, it won’t be fast or cheap.
    If it is fast, it won’t be cheap or well done.
    If it is cheap, it won’t be well done or fast.

    I tell all my potential customers that, and they tend to go for the first far more often than not.

    Kudos for re-posting such a great article! Kudos for the original author for having the brass balls to post it! I link to this article often from Usenet and BBS posts. Let’s hope this page survives the “404 disease” for a good long time.

  73. René Kabis Says:

    Whoops, I got the spiel backwards.

    If it is well done and fast, it won’t be cheap.
    If it is fast and cheap, it won’t be well done.
    If it is cheap and well done, it won’t be fast.


  74. Lateefa Says:

    A wake up call to all considerate artists out there.
    I love the first point:-

    “1. It is not a “great opportunity” for an artist to have his work seen on your car/’zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a “great opportunity” for YOU to have their work there.”

    Thank you to whoever wrote these points.

  75. […] Original post by Sean […]

  76. maxaside Says:

    I recall as a kid coming across logos that presented an idea in a unique, abstract and wholly applicable way, it would provide you with a new perspective on what would otherwise be mundane. I always thought that was great and I would spend time recreating some of what I saw for my amusement, Superman’s ‘S’ anyone?
    Recently I rediscovered that passion which has translated itself into not just appreciation and admiration of, but also involvement in good creative logo design. So much so that even my wife does not look at company logos the same way anymore, hell, we sometimes critique logos just for fun 😦
    I will not pretend to know that much about how the business aspect of this industry works, and there is not a need for me to regurgitating what has already been so well put in this post. But yes, I have arrived at those same conclusions and some very sobering realizations. There have been some excellent points made as to why the industry is the way it is but little has been said about ways to change the perception of the designer and his work, so I would like to humbly add my 2 pixels.
    The client is wholly at fault in all this and is the biggest influence on the market. Anyone aware of what benefits a well designed anything brings to their business is not going to let a hack within a mile of their project. Unfortunately, the majority of the world is ignorant about what good design is and does not fully appreciate the creativity involved. Consequently clients are willing to accept shite, because their clients are also willing to accept shite. Shite comes out everyone’s arse, and when you have willing buyers a whole bevy of willing sellers will arise to accommodate. So I do not blame the untalented pretenders, they are just out to take advantage of an easily gullible market. It is a self perpetuating, dumbing-down cycle. If clients were knowledgeable or cared, design would be lifted back to its appropriate status, it will become just too difficult for hacks, they would be unable to cut it and would drop out of the race entirely. Thereby moving the industry in a more positive direction.
    But why are clients so f****ng ignorant? That is because we live in a shitty world. Design and creativity would rule our planet when people having nothing more to aspire to acquire because all wants are provided for (read Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). Unfortunately, that is not the case and will not be in any of our lifetimes. So lets get over the whinning for that reason alone.
    What designers need to do is educate the public, force feed them if we have to so we can create a future for this or any artform. The more folks know about design and the benefits of good desing the less they will be willing to accommodate hacks, a scenario that would allow the true talents and passion to reign supreme. So short of inciting propaganda (which might not be a bad thing), what ways can the general public be educated regarding this?????
    Or we could wait till the market is so saturated with shite that good design (or better design as in the case of Apple paraphenelia) will re-emerge as a factor that drives demand.

  77. Getmdesign Says:

    Very good article, no one should feel like they have to do “free” work just to survive. But more importantly, others shouldn’t try trick or scam designers into free work.

    To the IT manager who said he asks all designers to do some free work before a project. Here are some other options, besides making a designer do unpaid work.

    1. Ask for references from clients on there portfolio or previous jobs. Ask beforehand, because they designer may not be at liberty to disclose his employer or the work may have been outsourced from a larger agency.

    2. Only interview designers with online portfolio’s that show some sort of consistency in style. If a guys got 1 nice site and 5 crappy ones he’s probably lying about that nice 1.

    3. Have another designer that works for you speak to the designers you like to gauge there qualifications. A “Real” designer can detect BS from fake ones. It’s like that in any profession.

    4. Have them take a design certification test from Adobe. If this sort of thing means anything to you one can easily setup a sample test. You mentioned that this sort of thing has some bearing in your industry but if you check designers can get certified as well.

  78. mari Says:

    someone said “so I often ask for some spec work – at least a storyboard and concept – before signing anyone to a significant contract.”

    You can do that, but you need to pay – even a cheap price – for the “test” if you are a serious company.

    That’s the way we – in a very small company – made to contract some artists for a project. And, in some cases, if you don’t understand much of design, a portfolio doesn’t help so much to see if the artist can do what you need.

  79. […] Craig’s Pissed – Why graphic designers should be paid (, 40 saves) […]

  80. […] If you’ve ever performed design or development work for someone, I’m sure you’ve been taken advantage of. So take a look at this excellent post… Craig’s Pissed […]

  81. […] the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid. " You can read the whole thing here: Craig’s Pissed position : relative (from another site, because it was deleted in Craig’s list) All I am saying is, don’t expect much […]

  82. Happypants3 Says:

    Even though I’m barely old enough to be *considered* for a job, this is quite possibly going to one of the most influential pieces of advice I’ve ever read.

    I’m an aspiring artist (Like, drawing for books and ads), and I never considered there would be lowlife out there attempting to rip me off like that. Even if I had thought of that, I’d have never even thought that was normal! I salute the person that wrote that, and I hope they know just how much impact they might’ve had on the artist’s market. Thank you. ^_^

  83. sheltz Says:

    i agree 100 % percent with you Craig, you don’t lie on that fact. fair money is the best way of saying thank you for your efforts. tired of these cheap clients, sometimes they ask you to do the desighn when its done they have a prob in paying , i beleive it will work better if cash was offered FIRST.

    thanks alot craig you’ve just helped alot of graphic desighners especially new desighners get the grip of the business world. this should spread out to more people

  84. sheltz Says:

    to these cheap clients , if you can’t pay , do it yourself , we artist shouldn’t give a heck if you’re a small company or not , pay us our respect

    money first for me from now on

  85. This post is a godsend. It illustrates every frustration I’ve ever had as a web designer/graphic artist. I’ve only been ‘burned’ a couple times but quickly learned my lesson and it hasn’t happened since. The only thing I encounter now (and absolutely DETEST) are the people who try to barter for your services and then become annoyed when you aren’t willing to move from your stance. Those and the people who want websites but aren’t willing to bring out the cash required to do the job they want.

    Thank you for this. I want to know who submitted it so I can commend them. If the writer happens to be reading this, kudos to you and we as artists appreciate your vent.

  86. Aster Says:

    You as a graphic artist have saved millions of artistic people (such as myself..) I couldn’t have said it any better.. kudos to you.

  87. Me Says:

    Well said. ^^

  88. […] Craig’s Pissed If you’re a creative read this. If you’re about to hire a creative, read this twice. […]

  89. olga Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. I have a question that perhaps you might have the answer to. I have had to sever my relationship with a printing house after many years in which we have paid a good amount of money for our business materials. When all was said and done, I asked for what I thought was ours: plates, film and logo in original format. The response was that they had nothing for me, that they never charged me for the logo but that if I wanted now, I would have to pay $250. To add insult to injury, and as a side note, the payment could only be in cashier’s check or money order. We never had any problems with our payments in the past. I am sure that there was a way in which they would have gotten around charging me for the logo by including the fee in some other costs. Do I still own intellectual rights to this logo and can I claim they give it to us even though their claim that is was not paid for by us? I’m not trying to get away with anything here, I am already looking at new charges that will be paid to the new printer. Thanks for your opinion.

  90. Nicole Says:

    This should be tought at all schools. I know I have yet to be tought such at my art college. Thankyou for spreading your wisdom.

  91. Tirith Says:

    Not only do artists often not get paid appropriately, or have their art stolen in contests…even our public education beats the opportunity to create and the love for artistic things out of children. Artists are a rare breed…we don’t get the respect that a businessman gets, even though we created the emblem that has made him rich…

  92. Joe Says:

    Thanks so much for writing this. I think people don’t value artists because they don’t realize how powerful good art and design really. A cheap design looks cheap, and makes people believe the company is sub standard. Good design instills trust in quality. Everyone, if they stopped to think about it, would realize it’s true, and then they would realize how well paying for good design pays off in the long run.

    To Olga above, if you didn’t specifically buy the rights to the logo at some point, they are right. They may have let you use the logo for free while you did business with them. If you are going to a different print house now they are within their rights to keep it. If you are switching print houses because the new one is cheaper, well now you know partly why the other cost a little more- they were giving you more.

  93. mnemosynex Says:

    Well said dude. Brilliant post.

  94. I wish I could see the ad now. And if I can see it, I wish I knew how to get to it.

  95. Stephanie F. Says:

    I am so glad this is here! It’s so frustrating to have people want you to design for them at the rare chance they might hire you “if” they like what you’ve made. NO WAY I SAY! My time,just like most other designer’s time is valuable and I don’t work on SPEC. Don’t get me wrong, helping someone out who’s just starting out can be rewarding. BUT, you have to draw the line somewhere. You can’t put yourself out of business either.

  96. Melanie Mechazawa Says:

    … wow. i just realized how much i love art. I want to be a graphic designer, a manga-ka, a fotographer… i just love japanese art.
    This article truly spoke to me. It reminded me of all the times a gave away work thinking it was a “good thing to do”. what a fool. Count to think of it i worked my Tail off on those. Now im still 16, but i totally get this article. im a little scared about finally deciding what to do with my life, but i guess art is the one thing im not afraid to do for as long as i live. I guess it would be great to do art, and get payed for it too. =)

  97. zimm Says:

    Are there any ads on Craigs list for people who want free hamburgers? I want a free hamburger and fries too! Heck yeah! Come on down!

    Sweet post. Kudos.

  98. Mike Syrigos Says:

    At last, and aticle preaching it as it is. I hate having to go through this all the time with rookie artists or scam ’employers’. I’d like to ask for permission to link to this page, or repost it anywhere and whenever needed, to spread the word.

  99. Janna Says:

    This person deserves a fucking Nobel Prize.

  100. Iain Says:

    Fantastic article mate, as a graphic artist myself, I’ve actually seen the ‘spec’ type scams go on often. People don’t realize there is an art to it, and really under-appreciate what graphic art and design involves.

  101. Chantal Says:

    Thank you for posting this! It’s something I think EVERYONE in this, or any, field needs to know.

  102. fluffy Says:

    While I agree with most of what you say, I’d like to mention that this article forms a false inverse correlation between supply and demand. Just because there’s more of something doesn’t mean there’s less demand for it – for example, there are probably fewer weasel tamers than illustrators, but that doesn’t mean the demand for those weasel tamers is higher than for illustrators.

    Demand is based on need, not based on availability, and it is the meeting of supply and demand that drives prices. Many companies see illustration as something that would be nice to have but isn’t a make-or-break, and see branding as an afterthought, and so on.

    • fluffy Says:

      Oh, and to further belabor the point, while there may be more neurosurgeons than illustrators, typically if you need the services of a neurosurgeon, it’s because without one, you will die, and so of course there is a more direct motivation to pay a lot of money for one who definitely knows what they’re doing. The situation with illustration is usually not so dire.

  103. JAson Says:

    Same goes for web designers and programmers. Just because you have a free hosting site, don’t expect it to be buggy, and don’t expect me to work for free around those bugs. I won’t do it.

  104. Ellen B. Eder | Visual Communication Says:

    ——> Say NO to Spec!

    As design professionals, it’s up to you and I to enforce this.

    Protect yourselves: Work out a fair contract (in writing,) in which the you and client agree to specific terms and monetary compensation for a project. It does take time—for which you may or may not get paid—to write up an estimate/agreement, but compared to working on spec and perhaps getting burned, well, it’s a small investment.

    p.s. if a client isn’t willing to sign an agreement, it’s best to politely say farewell to them. You’ll have dodged a bullet : )

  105. […] these stereotypes carry over into the realm of pay. Over at Position: Relative there is a superb post, which takes articulate and pointed umbrage at the idea that artists, […]

  106. Hear, hear! Thank you for an articulate and utterly on-target post. I notice that WordPress automatically posted the reply I wrote on my blog as a comment, but I wanted to let you know myself that I had replied and linked back to your post.

  107. Arto Says:

    You almost listed everything, greatwork. The other one is the desperate older finacially strapped artists, they would do most things the other artists wouldn’t even try.

  108. taralqua Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments addressed in the craigslist poster’s original post. It’s always intensely satisfying to my bohemian sensibilities to tell someone to get bent after they tell me my work for them will be paid by “a chance to get seen!”

  109. […] los diseñadores del mundo. El autor permanece en el anonimato, la nota fue borrada de Craiglist pero este blog la rescató de la oscuridad. La traducción al español la hizo un usuario de la comunidad de […]

  110. Nicolette Says:

    Sing it in two part harmony! I couldn’t agree more!

  111. Kudos to whoever wrote that. Wow.

  112. Steve Says:

    Where does this idea of doing it on the cheap even come from? (clients not designers). Quick answer 1. “It’s the American Way.” Do unto others before they can do unto you.
    2. “Everyone’s an artist in their own way.” Corollary to #1. We are taught that we can all be artists eventhough by second grade we all knew who was and was not an artist, or mathematician, or geographer, even if the teacher didn’t. If everyone’s an artist in their own way then no one’s an artist in anyone’s way. We all get a D not an A.
    3. “Clip art’s free!” (See #1 and #2) 25 billion cute designs for your corporate logo.
    4. Real businesses know the added value of a visual design that becomes their identity and the bargain they are getting from hiring a good design professional.
    5. We can all recite 5 logos that are classics and we can tell why we remember them. Can’t remember the designers usually or how much the design cost. Point- cheap is one thing– true cost is quite another. Designers work in the realm of true cost and understand what added value is.
    I’m saving this article so I can hand it out to people who are oh-so-successful and don’t need the services of a designer. Makes you just want to rip their clothes off.

  113. Print-it-247 Says:

    We are an online print portal and we receive great designs from all types of designers from all walks of life. We also have our own internal design team to help mainly the customers that have tried to craft something in corel draw! And the one thing that we have a problem with time and time again is price! However I received an email a couple of days ago with a link to you tube called Graphic Designer vs Client –
    I must point out that there is strong language, that said it had the whole team in stitches.

  114. Aimee Says:

    PREACH IT!!!! This is the very reason I got out of doing graphic design for 14+ years!! I’m going to repost this everywhere!! Thanks!

  115. […] or people who feel they are somehow doing me a favor by letting me work for them. I stumbled across this article on a blog called Position: relative. It’s about a Craig’s list post that […]

  116. […] —ellos aunque sean pocos— les dedico a continuación un mensaje que en su versión original (en inglés) fue injustamente baneado por los señores de Craig’s List. Les recomiendo leerlo […]

  117. Alexis Says:


    I get what your saying. I am an interior designer with a retail store and I’ve been bullied every which direction you can imagine to lower my prices. I will say this: I used to represent graphic designers as an agent, I married a creative director. I saw very kind of “over-billing” scenario you could imagine. Two hours @ $50 an hour to burn a cd for me and send an email some files? Come on. Food for thought. In this recession we are all supposed to be desperate and give it away!

  118. Alexis Says:

    I also need to say that I found graphic designers to often be spoiled with their schedules, demanding with their requests, and totally anti-social and they could not play well with others as they sit in fornt of a box all day. That’s why I stopped repping them. Are they worth their money? YES. But don’t pad the bill and you all know you do it! I would find you guys the work and you would have the gall to complain about having to pay me a percentage! I found you the work because I’m social and connected and graphic designers are often not! Two choices: sit at home and don’t work, or work becuase I walked you into the door and negotiated for you. Simple. And guys, get this: when you are in retail or a free-lance artist or consultant of ANY kind, you really have to except the fact that others will barder with you. Even my acupuncturist, who is a doctor, lowered his rates in this recession. I have had to alter my prices becuase I want to work. You need to ignore cheap people’s stupid comments and pathetic ways and take the check and put yoru foot down when you have had enough.

  119. Kei Says:

    I’m sending this to my girlfriend immediately – she’s in a Graphic Design course right now, and this is good stuff for her to be fully aware of (especially point #6). I know she knows better, but it’s always good to be 100% sure. Thanks for putting this up – it is the best advice artists and those in art fields can get.

  120. Nathaniel Says:

    I have many illustrator/graphical design friends, and while I think you make several good points, I think your argument is fundamentally flawed.

    Firstly, you’re neglecting a critical half of the supply/demand equation. Just because you are rarer than neurosurgeons, mechanics, and techies, does not mean you’re more desired. Unlike a neurosurgeon, mechanic, or techie, it does not take a professionally-trained artist or graphical designer to produce a satisfactory product for most people. This is not to say that there’s no difference between a trained and an untrained illustrator, but rather that most companies’ standards are lower for an illustrator/GA than for, say, an engineer or neurosurgeon. Plus, you have to compete with cut-and-paste free graphics and such. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way, but it is. Most companies do indeed need to hire one or several illustrators/GAs, but the quality of the work desired is usually much lower, and of much lower consequence.

    The second point is one that becomes apparent from the things you yourself said. Employers are offering these bullshit jobs (and I agree that they’re dishonest and bullshit) because they can get away with it. You yourself said that you’ve accepted job offers like this. It’s not the fault of the employer that he can hire people for beans; that’s the fault of the employee-to-be for taking it. It sucks, and it may be the only job you can get, but that’s life. If you don’t want to encourage employers to hire you at such a low pay grade or for no pay grade, do not accept those offers.

    The part of this article where you warn beginning illustrators/GAs to avoid offers like this is a vital bit of advice, definitely. But blaming the employer for not offering you a better job is like blaming someone who bought a car you offered to them for half-off.

    Take care.

  121. Hellana Says:

    Damn ! I totally agree and I’m glad to see there are people that think like me and don’t let themselves being cheated. You know, it’s the same for models.

  122. […] If you’ve ever performed design or development work for someone, I’m sure you’ve been taken advantage of. So take a look at this excellent post…Craig’s Pissed […]

  123. Arterrorism Says:

    the Mc Donalds example is just silly
    the reason they’re not paying you money is because you get work experience and whatnot
    think of it like an internship or something
    still don’t have to agree with it, but the rationale isn’t as stupid as you made it out to be

    also no1 should be thankful for an opportunity to do work
    not you and not the employer it’s just a simple business transaction
    or do you tell your gardener he should be happy to do your lawn?

    but hey what do you expect from a bunch of artists
    elitist entitled brats, the lot of em.
    oooh look at me, I can draw pretty, I’m so special because there’s more people who’d go and do something useful like neuro-surgery or something
    a field which btw requires years and years of under payed high pressure internships

    all these people are doing is offering aspiring artists a chance to get their work out.
    if you feel too good for this, ignore em and go do one of your overpriced commission jobs for some rich asshole
    or swindle a bag of community money to throw a heap of junk metal on a round-a-bout.

  124. mairagce Says:

    Reblogged this on Conceptual Fashion and commented:
    An oldie, but a goodie. Every artist, designer, and freelancer should read this.

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