Doing illustrations for free?! Yes or no?

There is a really bad thing going on in the art industry. People want us to do things for free.
Below you get some reasons why we should do work for free in the mind of some people.

Why you shouldn't take any commissions for free!
1. "You will get exposure on the internet or wherever!" 

No, I can put my own shit on the internet you bloody wanker! AND! I can't pay my bills with exposure! I can't even clean the toilet OR wipe my own ass with that! So what you are telling me is that I can make a drawing for free and give it to you, then don't pay any money so I have to use that same drawing to wipe my ass with because I can't afford any toilet paper.
Exposure doesn't do the trick.

2. "We don't have any budget"

You can afford to do a lot of work and make money from your website or magazine or your band or what ever you are doing and buy the much needed stuff but you can't pay me?! The one who gives your text or music or website a face?! You have to invest in your own company, just like I do!. PAY ME! YOU PAY THE LOCAL HANDY MAN SO WHY NOT ME?

3. "But you like to draw! So you get pleasure out of it and therefore you can do it for fee"

Do you like your job? Yes? Then you don't have to get money for your job anymore. Just give all your money back to your boss. Pay your rent with your joy and your "high on life" attitude. (if you don't like your job just quit it. You live too short to hate the thing you are doing the biggest part of your life.

Aah, always good to give a little rant about not paying me.

Why you should do some projects for free.
But there are some reasons why you should take on a commission for free but you have to be really careful with it.

1. You CAN get a lot of exposure from it!

I did it two times for free and it was indeed for exposure. This was more of an investment and something I would really loved to make art for before I die.
It was for a festival I really love but even the founders of the festival don't make enough money to live from the festival. But the festival was and still is exactly the thing I wanted to make art for. This was an opening to get in touch with a lot of people. First of all it became my vacation and second I got in touch with bands and the bands got to see my art. It was and still is a great opportunity to build on your network and enjoy some beers with the bands and artists you really like.
When I started working for that festival I got another festival who wanted me to make art for them and they could pay me! And after that project I talked to a band for my upcoming exhibition who I met at the festival and they really liked what I did so now we are talking about designing stuff for them too. And this all because they gave me the opportunity to have an exhibition and do backdrops and digital posters.

Second time I did something for free was for a small but really METAL venue in Rotterdam called Baroeg.
I got the chance to do some poster art for them and that gave me the opportunity to build on my experience with poster art. It is one of the oldest and most alternative venues of the Netherlands and it felt like a real honor to make art for them.

After I did some posters for them I was feeling like I should do an exhibition. But I HATE exhibitions because all of the elite bullcrap people are talking about. I just want to hear from people "damn I like that poster" or people who buy the poster or whatever. I am not an artist in a way I make paintings. I am an illustrative designer. So I make reproductive posters and other things like that. That is what I am selling.
I thought Baroeg would be the most perfect venue to try this out! And they helped me with this and indeed gave me the chance to do this. Bands and other people saw my art and that gave me more commissions.

These are two examples of doing art for free but you have to be really clever and take the risk of doing it when you feel like you should. 

2. Getting experience with some unfamiliar spectra without any really big risks

The things I've said above is the most important. Keep that in mind! But there are things you can do for free to get more experience. Art you do for yourself is one. You can do studies and make pretty drawings or paintings whatever you want and put it on the internet (YEAH SELF-PROMOTION BITCHES!) and show the world you can do awesome things! But still it is something you are comfortable with. You will do doodles and drawings without an extreme challenge in it. When someone else gives you a commission to draw you have to do something you are not completely comfortable with!

You always have to make them! Never EVER miss one!

-Making schedules to make your deadline.
This is something you only learn by doing it. But only something what is needed to practice when you are starting as an fulltime illustrator. Manage your time! Everyone is doing it his or her own way but there is one thing every designer has in common while making a schedule. We have to be flexible, some things take more time then you expected or another commission just came in which has a shorter deadline or whatever. Those things happen. If you don't like to be flexible and deal with that kind of stress, sorry, but maybe you should find an office job.

-Keep close contact with your client about the things you are doing.
Always answer your client the same day you get an email! When you don't know the answer on the question he or she is asking then send an email where you are telling them you are figure things out to give them a proper answer.

-You can't do everything you like to do.
You are not completely free. Your client has ideas about how the drawing is going to look like and what you should put on paper. So you have to find a balance of their wishes and your mindscape.

These are some reasons why you should do something for free. But again, be careful with it. Don't let anyone take advantage of you as an artist. You are only hurting yourself in a financial way and the illustration industry will get damaged. It is because of so many people started to do things for free everyone started to think you don't have to pay much or at all for art. Only do things like this when you know your client can get you further as an artist or designer and they really can't pay you. So do your homework!

kind regards,



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