Working For Free - But It's Great Exposure For You

I am sure we have all heard at one point or another in our artistic careers: “it will be great exposure for you!” So I ask, as an artist, how many times have you had people ask you to do a job for free or to give someone art for free?

Personally, I think there is a time and a place for this type of thing. Perhaps a charity is looking for artwork for an auction or a non-profit may be looking for an artist to donate their time. These are the opportunities where this line of thinking works in my mind and it is a great idea, it’s good for the community and everybody wins.

To me, there is no bigger insult than someone expecting to get your trade for free. My response to that is: “Do you get paid for your job?” or “Does your boss get paid for their job?” Of course they do, and most times these are the people I hear complain they don’t get paid enough for what they do. So how do these people have the audacity to expect an artist (or anyone for that matter) to work for free?

I have experienced this a few times in the last little while and it always boggles my mind each and every time it happens. As a matter of fact I just experienced it last week. I have had my art on display (for free!) in a particular establishment for over a year now and for sale at a much lower price than I would normally sell my work. I figured I would give it a try, get some EXPOSURE and they get free art on their walls, an amicable agreement.

Recently, I decided to remove my art from said establishment as it is needed elsewhere. Through communication I was asked if I had any other art of a particular style and genre that could be put on the walls of this same place. I kindly responded that I do and here is a list of sizes and pricing for these pieces. Communication continued about unrelated items without any mention with regard to the additional pieces and pricing I had previously mentioned. So, I am going to assume here they were looking for the same deal as the previous one we had in place. Unfortunately, NO can do this time my friend, once is enough. I have learned my lesson. Not one single sale came out of that exposure. No promotion was done on my behalf. This arrangement doesn’t seem mutually beneficial to me and isn’t that what this was about? Isn’t that why I was supposed to accept this kindness of “exposure”?

I don’t currently work as a full time artist, and granted I still have a regular source of income in the form of my full time job, however it still irritates the hell out of me when people expect my services of my products for free. There are artists who do rely on selling their art or skill as their only source of income and clearly this is not a viable option or possibility for them. Nor should it be!

So, if you happen to be one of those people that expects shit like this for free, think long and hard about this before you ask this of an artist. Honestly just simply ask yourself: “would I work at MY full time job for free if my boss asked me to?” I am will to bet you are going to answer that question with a resounding NO! Food for thought people. Have some respect for what artists do. They work for years at their craft to perfect and get to the point where they can make a living at this. Stop asking us for FREE SHIT!

Image courtesy of

Mentorship - It Has It's Priveleges

Mentorship has got to be one of the greatest things ever. What else allows you to pick the brains of experts in your particular field of work or interest for FREE?

I mean first things first, you have to find someone willing to mentor you and secondly someone that has the time. The latter is probably the most difficult part as it would seem to me that everyone appears to be getting busier and busier in their lives which doesn’t allow for much time to mentor someone. That being said, it’s not a free ride, you have to work at it just like anything else you want to succeed at in life. It certainly is great, not to mention incredibly helpful to have someone to turn to with questions, inquiries or advice.

I have had a little bit of experience in this particular area with regards to my own photography career in the past year. It has been great having a couple of different people that I can reach out to in order to obtain knowledge through their expertise. Now I wouldn’t call it full on mentorship by these two gentlemen but they have given me access to their individual wealth of knowledge on photography and business when they are able to make the time for me. Believe me, I appreciate this help more than any words could ever express. The knowledge I have gained from these mentor sessions has been extremely invaluable to me.

With regards to my particular situation when it comes to mentorship, well, let’s just say it is a little unorthodox. In describing it that way, I mean we usually do quarterly phone calls or skype meetings because that is what works for my mentors and me. Not ideal by any means yet still effective and it works for all involved parties so it’s a win win for everyone.

Whatever your career choice, interest, hobbies or aspirations may be, if the opportunity should present itself or you wish to seek out a mentor, I highly recommend and advise it. You will be that much wiser for making that choice and to be honest, it doesn’t cost you a dime for mentorship!

Image courtesy of