*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 reasons or situations in which they are willing to make free art.
Here are my own personal thoughts for when I am willing to do pro bono work:
a) It gives back to society in some way
b) It allows me a chance to practice/ build portfolio FOR SOMETHING IN WHICH I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL
c) Your friend has done you a solid before and this would be a great opportunity to repay them.
d) It is for my family (debatable for a lot of people but not a question for me. They pay for my tuition, clothe me, feed me, and invested in me more than I could ever repay)
2. When and how to start/end a project
While you can offer assistance or accept a project, determine with the other party when this agreement ends. Whether you are helping them to create a website, make an animation, or a logo, there is a limit to how long this should take. You should be upfront with how many changes you are willing to make. Determine if you have enough assets and briefing from the client to start, how clear the clients are with their brief, and the length of projection for the duration of a project.
Remember that getting $300+ to create a logo might sound like easy money, until you remember that you forgot to inform the client of how many revisions and alternatives you are willing to make. You might end up taking a year churning out 300+ versions for them…and then they come back a few months later asking for more changes.
3. Would I suggest my friend to accept this job?