If you have a question then please read this because it may already have the answer you`re looking for. ^^
It’s rant time again. Yay. I know I’ve talked about this topic in the past already but it’s still current for many artists, and I’d like to go into it a little further. That question which pretty much every artist knows only too well.
“Can you draw something for me? But I don’t have money.”
No matter how obvious you make it that you’re a professional artist, how eye-catching the commission pricelist on your user page is or how many “I don’t do requests / art-trades”-stamps you plaster all over your journal, people either don’t notice or simply don’t care. And their ways to persuade you to give them what they want get more creative and bold.
Classic approach :
A few sentences of praise and how much they adore your artwork and how much they’d love to have a picture from you. Sometimes they also mention that they don’t have money, which means they are aware of the fact you usually expect payment but for some reason seem to think that a few compliments will get them a free artwork.
Direct approach :
Usually very short, they literally jump in your face with their character description or a link to a reference image, expecting you to immediately draw it without asking further questions.
Pity approach :
Someone’s pet recently died and they want a tribute picture. A friend is feeling down and they want to cheer them up. They have been going through a lot of issues and a picture from you would totally make them feel better. Of course they can’t pay.
Birthday gift approach :
Starts like the classic approach with a lot of compliments and how much they love your art until they suddenly mention that their birthday will be soon and that they’d be happy to get a picture from you or say “if you want you can draw something for me!” ( Yes, that actually happened ).
Semi-professional approach :
Telling you they are a new little company or an aspiring author looking for an artist to work for them. Creating website graphics, character designs, comics or illustrating a whole book. So we’re not talking about a single picture here but work that will take weeks and months to finish. They bloat how great their project is and how much you will profit if you agree to work for them until they mention at the very end ( or after you asked them in your reply ) that they can’t afford paying you BUT it will be such good publicity for you when people see you did work for them and IF the book / game / whatever is a success you’ll get royalties.
To sum it up, they act as if they were professionals but don’t seem to be aware of the fact that even artists need to pay their bills. They expect you to work for months without earning a single cent and hope the project will be worth it in the end, but you have no guarantee that you will ever get paid at all.
Would anyone do this in “real” life? Go to a car dealer and tell them :
“Hey, I want this car! I can’t afford it, but if you give it to me for free it will be great publicity for your shop because I’ll participate in races and if I win I’ll share the money with you!”
Do that and the seller will think you’re a complete nutcase.
It’s not an artist’s problem if someone wants artwork but has no money. If you can’t afford it, save up for it. If you don’t want to save up for it, you don’t really need it that badly. Art is a luxury, just like jewelry, brand-name clothes, dvds, pretty much everything which you don’t need to survive.
Have you ever gone into a store and whined to the sellers that you want the latest computer game, a silver necklace, shoes or an iPhone but can’t afford it and seriously expected them to give it to you for free? No? Then why do you do it online?
Why do you expect strangers you’ve never talked to before to sit down and work on something for you for hours or days without getting anything in return? Would you do that? I doubt it. Because we all need money to pay our bills. Praise doesn’t pay our rent.
I admit that my patience with such “offers” and requests has reached an all time low, so depending on my mood it can happen that I either delete those notes without replying or reject the plea a little snarkily. Yes, I could be polite and calm and explain them I didn’t work for free. You know what, I did that. And even then some of those people snapped at me and insulted me, no sign left of the “love” and respect they had for my art and me the moment they didn’t get what they wanted. I don’t have to please people who think art isn’t worth paying for it.
Recently someone replied with the following sentence :
"What does money have to do with art?"
What does money have to do with music? With movies? With games, clothes, TVs, computers, etc.? You need money to produce it. And you need to have people buying it. Giving everything to people for free is a terrible business plan. Economy doesn’t work like this. There’s no difference between commissioning someone online to draw a picture for you or going to a confectionist in your town and commissioning them to bake a special cake for you. You pay for the work, for the education that person had over the years, for their experience, for the constant practice and for the time it takes to get it done.
If you don’t think it’s worth paying for, then you simply have to live without it.