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When you're asked to do 'sample work'

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by Mosskat, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. Mosskat

    Mosskat Member

    Forgive me if this is in the wrong section...

    So the other day, on deviantart, a writer puts a post in the job section asking for illustrators for some books he/she is doing. Sounds promising so I leave a message saying I'm interested, just one in about 400 other artists that left their calling card.

    Just got a note today from the author who says they liked my website and pointed out a specific style from one of my pieces but wanted a sample to see how I would approach their story.

    Now, I am not into doing 'samples' as this person has no nicely put it. My art takes a tremendous amount of time and effort and having to prove I can do a job just annoys me.

    Am I having a bad approach on this? Has anyone had a similar situation? Would you go ahead and so a sample if it were you?
  2. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    No, you're taking the right approach, refer your client to the No!Spec website, say you're not interested in taking part in speculative work. They clearly know your style of work and have expressed an interest in that, it would be like finding a good builder and asking them to build you part of your extension as you like their previous work, then if that work on the extension looks good you'll pay them and get them to complete the job!
  3. tbwcf

    tbwcf Active Member

    I think a good way to approach this would be to explain what you've said and ask for a small fee for doing so, not as much as you would normally charge for the work and they would own no rights to it, but do it like a pitch fee.

    That way they can see the results you produce from their input & you still get something for your time if its not for them?

    I strongly disagree with working for free but that could be a compromise?
  4. Sunburn

    Sunburn Active Member

    Im with Greg on this one, unless the potential client is happy to cross your palm with silver and gold I wouldn't bother.

  5. tim

    tim Senior Member


    Berry said previously (once again a quote from him) "No, is an answer"
  6. berry

    berry Active Member

    Everyone knows my feelings on Spec & Free work in the more commercial client/ agency world

    In the Illustrated Book field however its a creative partnership between two artists. Finding and commisioning the visual partner to make the words come alive is very important. But... I would try and start to create a dialogue with the author to narrow down his/her illustrator selection to just you by some form of pre- agreement contract. Before you run off doing work, get a brief: read the book, discuss with the author what need illustrating, how many, who are the publishers, what your fee may be etc. Otherwise who knows who or how many could be doing fruitless samples work. Once you have as much info then you can take a view on whether you invest your time speculativley and your return on investment. If no 'real' info is forthcoming then it's a lame duck. I always try and get the business without doing any work first. It sorts the Players from the Pretenders.

    Also a token payment or first stage payment can say many things. No dough, No show.
  7. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    I should have said in my first reply that when approached by people asking for 'sample work' I do like to tell them a bit more about my reasons I chose not to do speculative work, as there are clients out there who believe it is a perfectly reasonable way to conduct design tenders, probably due in part to design contest sites. By explaining your reasons you may well be helping to educate them on the bigger picture.

    Sound advice, I've had soo many e-mails over the years from 'business' people with the next big idea, amazing potential, the best thing since sliced bread, but they don't have the funds available to pay for the site to be designed or built so would offer a % equity deal. If the idea is that good they would get the funds, and would certainly not be sharing a %!
  8. LOL, really? I havent had anyone do that to me yet!

    No ways man, cash is king in this business!

    No cash, no work.

    Personally, I go into some detail in my pitch about how I would approach offering a solution to the client. I use my words to paint a bit of a picture and it pays off a lot of the time without them actually wanting to see something first.

    If they do ask for something I always tell them that a fee will be charged and this is irrespective of whether I get the job or not.:up:
  9. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Yeah I used to get it quite a lot, I think it's because I was a regular member on some business start-up forums, now I'm not such a regular on those sites I rarely get e-mails to that effect.
  10. Mosskat

    Mosskat Member

    Thanks everyone for your views, I figured I wasn't alone in my opinion in this matter... I'll discuss a bit more with the potential client and see where it goes...
  11. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Let us know how you get on Kathryn, good luck :)
  12. Mosskat

    Mosskat Member

    Outcome of conversation with writer

    Person still insisted that the stakes were too high on hiring me on my portfolio alone and that he/she has asked many people to do sample work before and found some brilliant artists that way.

    That person in a roundabout way insulted me and just about every other artist who's ever put up a portfolio to show what they're capable of.

    I told him/her no thank you.

    Thanks again for all your feedback guys. I'm learning a lot from the few days I've been here, I'll definitely be sticking around.
  13. berry

    berry Active Member

    Anyone who can't make a judgement call on a portfolio isn't someone who has vision or business acumen and your better off without. definetly a Pretender not a Player
  14. blueocto

    blueocto Senior Member

    Sorry to hear it went down that way Kathryn, but as things have played out througout this post, its seems some valuable advice has been given, and thankfully you were well-equipped for dealing with this client.
    All the best for the future!
  15. mcherryjr

    mcherryjr Junior Member

    You win some, and you lose some. Clients that expect you to do work for free should try that approach with other service providers (carpet cleaners, dentists, etc.) to see if they'll do THEIR work for free. That might set the client straight.
  16. Muse

    Muse Member

    I'm sorry it didn't work out, but sticking to principles should pay off in the end, and if the writer can't realise that professionals have certain standards it's probably for the best.

    By the way, I looked at your portfolio, and your work is amazing.
  17. Mosskat

    Mosskat Member

    Thank you for your comment!! And I'm glad you like my work : D!!

    yeah! I'd really like to see that!!!! *frown*
  18. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    There's a great video worth watching on YouTube, one that Mark from Eagle Imagery always links to, makes the point extremely well! Send the link to clients who ask you to work for nothing :)

    YouTube - Harlan Ellison -- Pay the Writer

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