Orbit Books’ art director gives the other side of the story…
Are companies underpaying their freelance artists?
Artists don’t know manufacturing costs, price margins, wholesale versus consumer prices, advertising, staffing and so on. All of these factors and more go into what a company’s art budgets are. Of course, I want every artist to make a fair living wage, but they might be surprised to find out that many companies can’t afford to pay it.
How can artists decide whether or not a job is worth their time?
An artist needs to be aware of the quality of their work and the speed at which they work. From that they should calculate a target hourly rate and know that if they take a job under that rate there had better be a good, non-monetary reason.
Would you ever recommend working for free?
You should always work for something – even if it’s not for money. You can work for experience, for exposure, for charity, for a favour, for a relationship, for barter, for company stock, for finished product. Just make sure that something you’re working for is a sure thing, not a vague promise.
How can you ensure exposure?
You should do your research on the company, look at their social media channels. You can write up a contract that guarantees publicity and social media sharing. Any freelance I do is often for friends and it’s always for barter. Either their project does something I want, or they barter with leggings or whiskey. A job doesn’t have to pay exclusively in money to be worthwhile, but you have to weigh it out seriously.