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For what it's worth

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by artworkeruk, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. artworkeruk

    artworkeruk Junior Member

    This question has probably been asked before, but as I am a newby to forums I would like to give my views and ask others opinions.

    Looking at other forums I see that there are discussions about giving your work away free. Personally I am dead against the idea, but then in the current financial climate and with limited opportunities I can see why people advocate giving their work away free.

    I really think it takes the piss when people post on a forum asking others if they can come up with a design, by Wednesday (sic) and by the way… can I have it for free. Anyone who is willing to do the work for free is undervaluing themselves and undermining the design industry as a whole.

    If I want a service that I cannot do, I will pay for it, either that, or I will try and figure out a way of doing it myself by doing the research. I wouldn't take advantage of someone else's goodwill and expect to get something for nothing.

    I think that the start of all this free work comes from the internet, I'm sure that everyone has done it (I know that I have) and searched for scripts/templates/designs/icons etc for free to use in their work. I also take a look at all the free apps for my iPod Touch (wouldn't pay for the paid for ones). So I'm a hypocrite!!

    No, the point is that I am against exploitation of new talent, there are websites that are exploiting new graduates, showcasing their talent and creaming off a nice little retainer if a graduate picks up some work. I am all for a creative talent showcase and someone representing new talent, but not exploitation. I also hate the idea of these design competition websites where you design a logo, they just promote plagiarism and cause so many legal issues. Mind you, if you're stuck for ideas!!!

    Anyway, be interested to know what others think, especially if you have just graduated and you need to build up your portfolio.
  2. berry

    berry Active Member

    The start of all this free work was in the 70's when Ad agencies would relentless enter in speculative pitches. That created the norm of what the business is today. We created speculative working, and we reap what we sow. Many years ago John Heggatty from BBH told me that they did not do speculative work and would insist on a fee, unlike Saatchi's JWT and the like.
    Free only devalues work and efforts and erodes any brand values. There will always be someone who will do work for nothing. Busy Fools I say.
  3. Interesting tidbit of history there, thank you Berry! :)

    Yes, there will always be people out there willing to do free work.

    The scary thing about the internet though is that it allows people to do work for $50 and still make a profit! Ie: outsourcing to other countries!

    I have been looking for work in print layout and production and a lot of the places I went to have said "oh yes, we have a production department but we outsourced that to India months ago, all we have is editorial here in London."

    The speed at which information can be transferred is what has created the outsourcing boom, thats what the internet has given us (we reap what we sow and all that).
  4. darren

    darren Member

    There is also the problem of having no references.

    Its like trying to get a loan without a credit history, where does your credit history start?

    Some people are happy to work for nothing (or very close to) to build a portfolio, at least for the last 1-2 years of uni to the first 1-2 years of working.
  5. pangolin

    pangolin Member

    On the other side of things, would you go and fork out money for a service from someone with no (or very few) examples of their work/skills? Everyone has to start somewhere, and personally whenever I'm paying for a service (be it every day things like ordering a product online, using a courier service, etc) I firstly go by recommendations, then look at reviews - if you're starting out in design, how do you get customers without those? You may get a few willing to take the risk for a low price but I think a portfolio and recommendations will definately help you out - so you're not really doing the work for free, it's benefiting you in the long run too.
  6. berry

    berry Active Member

    This is an age old Catch 22 debate and it historically has 2 distinct camps, with different agendas, situations and needs.
    1. The 'profesionals or establishment' with an exixting portfolio who have to protect what they have created by charging an hourly rate to cover overheads and cost, staff etc.
    2. The newbies who need to break into the business ( and become/replace the establishment).

    We all have to start somewhere, there is no arguement there. But it such a competitive, overstocked pond now more than ever that it is hard to distinguish quality because of the quantity.

    My views have always been very clear, Never work for free, no matter who you are. You can cost cut or offer incentives to obtain some work to build up a portfolio. Or you can build a portfolio immediatley simply by taking an existing current ad, web, design and make it better. New clients will very rarely take chances and risks, so eliminate the risk and show what you can do.

    I believe firmly that if you really want it, it's out there to get. But too many creative students don't think creatively. The answer is not in what you do but in what you think. - (BB book of life)
  7. Xenonsoft

    Xenonsoft Active Member

    I think the key to it is being selective about who you do free work for. Charities and non-profit organisations spring to mind. Don't let people take advantage of you, and don't do too much free or underpaid work.

    I totally agree that too much free or underpaid work can ruin the industry. Every Designer has a responsibility to keep the industry alive, otherwise we'll all be out of a job and have to look for a new way to earn our crust.
  8. artworkeruk

    artworkeruk Junior Member

    Pangolin, I'm sure that like everybody you have day-to-day experiences where you are paying for goods without knowing what the quality is going to be like, things like getting your car serviced, buying a meal etc. If these things are not up to scratch then you just don't use that service again and probably tell your family and friends not to use them (nothing spreads quicker than a bad recommendation). With this in mind, any designer with a modicum of sense should know that they have to give their best as a bad reputation could undo all the good work that they have done for others. I totally agree with what you say about how do you build up your portfolio if you don't have the projects to do. I know that most people on the forum have their own online portfolios, it's just getting clients to see them and follow up their interest with orders.

    I would consider reciprocal arrangements to build up my portfolio (if I was a graduate) I know that is easier said than done.

    This is really difficult to know which way to go, times are tough out there and could get considerably worse. I still thing that ethically it is wrong of a client to expect designers to work for nothing, but then again I can see the reasoning for doing so.
  9. pangolin

    pangolin Member

    Actually I have a family friend who services cars, who I know does the job right, and tend to go to restaurants that friends and family have eaten at, so I know what to expect - I'm not loaded so I can't really afford to treat myself to a meal unless there's a good chance it'll be a decent meal (unless the bloke is paying, of course ;) :lol:) - these days there are so many people competing to give the lowest price that quality of service can and does get compromised, so I go by word of mouth a lot.
  10. artworkeruk

    artworkeruk Junior Member

    fair do's!!!!!

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