It’s a new year readers and as the saying states, ‘Start as you mean to go on’. This post is more of a reminder to myself than anything else, to ensure that this year, (and forever more) I don’t get taken on a ride by the industry; and to ensure that if I do find myself on a ride, it is one that is being paid for entirely by the client.
Not so long ago, someone put this YouTube link on Facebook and I agreed so heartily with the speaker that I knew that I had to put it up on my blog. Here is the ever charismatic, incredibly funny and blunt American writer, Harlan Ellison stating why professional writers, creatives et al should be paid for their work, and should stop giving out freebies. Although his experience comes from what happened to him in the film industry, everything he says can be applied to the fashion industry-
How right is he?
I believe he raises two great points-
1. The fact that working for free does not give good publicity value. This has been the reason given to me by so many companies in the past who have tried to get me to work for free. However Harlan points out why this is poppycock and that the only value is if (and I love these words) your palms are ‘crossed with silver’.
2. The reason why so many industry people expect creatives to work for free and insist on it like it is the ‘norm’, is because ‘amateurs have made it tough for the professionals’. Professionals will continue to be undercut by amateurs as long as the latter continue to work for nothing. This is something the fashion industry will continue to exploit because they know behind the individual insisting (rightfully) to get paid for his/her work- there is an orderly queue of (very eager) people willing to work for free.
I have to state here that I was once in that queue standing for hours like a chump because I was naive and thought as Harlan bitchily states, whilst flapping his arms in about 2:18 of the clip- ‘that I was going to be looked at and be noticed’. However, in the long run I’ve realised that ‘being noticed’ is not enough and I also learnt that clients (like most men on a first date) don’t respect and appreciate what they get easily and for free.
The latter has been the toughest lesson of all, when Harlan talks about having to almost beg for the DVD’s that have his work, I can identify with that- there have been certain magazines that I have styled for, for free who made me have to draw blood before they sent me free copies of the magazines that had my work in it.
I could go on and on about this topic but I won’t as it is a topic that I am going to revisit often. My personal experiences have made this subject one that I am very passionate about. It may not happen in my lifetime, but my dream is for when ALL professionals can Just Say No to working for free because then the industry will be forced to pay professionals for their work, lest their brand looses value by doing work that is amateur.