Working for Nothing

Whenever you read or listen to advise from wise old artists and designers who have ‘made it’, top of the list is “Know what you’re worth”. That is; don’t sell yourself down, quote what you think your work is worth and never ever ever work for nothing. I totally agree with this to some point. When I did my second paid job as an illustrator I was sold the ‘big opportunity’ line and I did the job for peanuts. It was a physically painful experience. The client was rude and pushy and the project was ludicrous. So I learnt from that experience. However, lately I’ve found myself in the position of having a couple of long deadlines.  It’s probably a good thing as I can really get into experimenting with different styles to get the next books just right.  But, I’m finding myself watching the in-box a bit. I like having deadlines that are screaming at me to be finished.

A while ago a dear friend spoke to me about the possibility of doing some work for a book she’s writing. It’s a project I think is really worthwhile but the budget is uncertain. Now I have a bit of time to fiddle about with some ideas I am finding it really liberating. I’m enjoying the creative freedom but I’m approaching it in the same professional way I do with any project because it’s important to me to do a good job for my friend.

That said if anyone does write to me out of the blue stating they have a fantastic book that they’d like me to illustrate for nothing because the publishers are bound to accept it straight away! (It happened again this week) I’ll be hitting delete and taking the dogs for a walk on the beach.


3 thoughts on “Working for Nothing”

  1. As much as I hated my own similar stories, the good thing is the valuable lesson you learn about yourself and what you’ll accept. I think it makes you more sure of what you’ll do or not do. So, there’s that!

  2. Ah, it’s like translators getting random questions from strangers if they’d translate “this relly short easy thing, it won’t take you a minute… What, your fee? Oh well, if you’re just all about money!” – duh, it’s a PROFESSION! Why do people assume that doing creative stuff is somehow less work than doing someone’s taxes… 🙂

  3. I couldn’t agree more Karen. I’m in just that position now, as a beginning illustrator. I accepted a very poorly paid project through a contact of a family member and after having to almost rewrite the text with this person I now have to put up with demands of how she wants the illustrations to work. I am, however enjoying the illustrating and learning lots, so all is not lost. But this will be a one off!!

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