The Artist Epidemic: Paid or Free Work

*This is a personal rant with a lot of opinions. There may be generalizations.   We often encounter stories in the media about the wage gap and gender/racial inequality. While at an animator’s meeting today, I discovered another pervasive ideology that I find disturbing: the epidemic of artists that do not get paid what they deserve. Artists deserve to be paid for the hours that they put in. That includes the expenses they incur from travel, meeting hours with clients, and the hours of executing a task.   When you calculate the amount of hours put into a project versus what they earn, their wage falls well below the minimum. The minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25 an hour…except when applied to a freelance artist working under a set budget. I’ve talked to friends that get into projects like this. They do revision after revision with no additional charges, their hourly rate dwindling to less than $4…$3…$2…. Some artists don’t even break even. They end up exhausting their time and energy and inadvertently end up paying for the clients’ work.   Three Simple Things to Ask Yourself When You Accept Work 1. Why am I doing this? When you accept the work from a client/non-paying “friend”, what are you getting out of it? Are you getting monetary compensation, learning a new skill , or getting mentorship? You might be happy to do work for your best friends or family members. You will also be met with requests from acquaintances that just need a wedding invitation or a card for their boyfriend. These people never communicate with you on a daily basis but when they need art they suddenly remember their forgotten friend. This being said, many people have different...