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Every day, there are more and more posts on here seeking "artists" for everything from auto graphics to comic books to corporate logo designs. More people are finding themselves in need of some form of illustrative service.

But what they're NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be.

To those who are "seeking artists", let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? …none?

More than likely, you don't know any. Otherwise, you wouldn't be posting on here to find them.

And this is not really a surprise.

In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you offer a neurosurgeon the "opportunity" to add your name to his resume as payment for removing that pesky tumor? (Maybe you could offer him "a few bucks" for "materials". What a deal!)

Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered "yes" to ANY of the above, you're obviously insane. If you answered "no", then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me… why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know;

1. It is not a "great opportunity" for an artist to have his work seen on your car/'zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a "great opportunity" for YOU to have their work there.

2. It is not clever to seek a "student" or "beginner" in an attempt to get work for free. It's ignorant and insulting. They may be "students", but that does not mean they don't deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a "student" once, too. Would you have taken that job at McDonalds with no pay, because you were learning essential job skills for the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid.

3. The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it's one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their "portfolio". They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It's not compensation. It's their right, and it's a given.

4. Stop thinking that you're giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them. There are far more jobs needing these skills than there are people who possess these skills.

5. Students DO need "experience". But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away. In fact, this does not even offer them the experience they need. Anyone who will not/can not pay them is obviously the type of person or business they should be ashamed to have on their resume anyway. Do you think professional contractors list the "experience" they got while nailing down a loose step at their grandmother's house when they were seventeen?

If you your company or gig was worth listing as desired experience, it would be able to pay for the services it received. The only experience they will get doing free work for you is a lesson learned in what kinds of scrubs they should not lower themselves to deal with.

6. (This one is FOR the artists out there, please pay attention.) Some will ask you to "submit work for consideration". They may even be posing as some sort of "contest". These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the "contest", or be "chosen" for the gig, and find what they like most. They will then usually have someone who works for them, or someone who works incredibly cheap because they have no originality or talent of their own, reproduce that same work, or even just make slight modifications to it, and claim it as their own. You will NOT be paid, you will NOT win the contest. The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or "spec", work. It's risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely.
So to artists/designers/illustrators looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you. Whether they are "spec" gigs, or just some guy who wants a free mural on his living room walls. They need you. You do NOT need them. Say NO to free art.

And for those who are looking for someone to do work for free. please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you're accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need. Get a clue.

If you agree with the above important information, please pass it along. The more people know, the faster we can correct this.
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benitothesnow Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2018
Plenty of people who pursue their art part time are willing to do it for free simply because they enjoy it (like me) and they want to be part of something. There's nothing wrong with that.
dexter-draws Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
True but this isn't about y'all, its about the people who DO wanna make money and a living off of their work
Kchic99 Featured By Owner Edited May 28, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What if the requester want a free art but i can't post it in my DA? I would do the request for training but no posting.. -_-
CharaMouschou Featured By Owner Edited Apr 8, 2018
There is no way to correct this... I deal with that very often and I can't anymore. People pay for ANY usual job they are asking from the others,  but when asking for an artwork (something that is supposed to be special and unique) they believe they don't have to pay for it. WHY??? I would never understand this. I could never ask from a stranger to give me something or make a work for me like asking for a favor. Well, he is a stranger who is going to spend time for you...
I was thinking for years that they don't realize the real value of art.
But now I believe what really happens is exactly the opposite : They KNOW what they are asking has a special value. But they want to underestimate it but trying their best to have for free. Arrogant and disrespectful to the time, effort and soul any artist puts in his work.
And even more, giving Art for free, makes it have no value. It's like you give napkins...

I could talk endlessly for this but this post says it all. 
I don't know but sometimes this disapoints me so much that I want to stop creating. Obviously I don't draw for money (if I did I would have stopped years ago) but feeling that people sometimes dont value my work as they should makes me feel so bad... I guess every artist can feel me. 

p.s. Once I created a video about that... So I m posting it here too :)
Titanium-Wrench Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Arguing Back:

But free art is a good thing to give away at times. I am not the best at drawing nor am I the worst, but I acknowledge that I need practice. I give free art or join the contests people run on here to do so. No, I don’t believe I will win anything, it may be a scam, and if it is: I knew the risk. I took that risk. I got to practice and I improved.

When I feel like I’m good enough, when I feel like I am amazing enough to start commissions (if the interest is there) I will start, but I’m the mean time I am mediocre and will practice by doing those things because it is good experience.

It is a good way to practice. If you draw something or someone you haven’t drawn before, it is good practice. It’s why free art can help certain people, but asking for it when it is not offered by extremely talented people is definitely not something you should do. People who are offering it? Go ahead and ask. People who are not? Don’t even try.
Vindexance Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
lol this is some of the funniest stuff i've seen in a while XD

Dude, some people don't care all about the money. Maybe they like giving people stuff, whether their art is good or bad. I myself know how hard it is to get points or money on here so I don't mind offering to do free art. I'm not even that great of an artist.

Like dude shhhh

be quiet.

Don't be like that.

Some people do things for free
some do it with pay.

Some people do work for free and it looks horrible
Some people do work for free and it looks great!

But it's not big of enough deal for you to go on and rant about how no one should accept free art.
I like doing free art or art trades.

Not a big deal.
Blubirdss Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
  • Can you guide me with this....commission description thing, how to put this up in my profile ? It asks...
  • Commission Title must be between 4 and 80 characters
  • Commission Description must be between 10 and 10,000 characters
God-Of-BBQ Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
What of those who are unable to pay for art? I understand most artists here must be paid for their work, hell a lot of artists here rely on that pay to be able to put food on the table, but I believe an artist who loves what he or she does, and enjoys the happiness they bring to many of their viewers should have no problem with doing free work every now and then. 

I'm not the best artist currently, but I have hopes and I'm studying and striving to become better at cartooning and being an illustrator, and when I do become good at my work and I'm known throughout a nice handful of people I will ALWAYS offer free work to those who are unable to afford it. I'm in that boat right now, I'm unable to afford the nicer works of the fine artists here, which is why I do things myself even without the great skill I see every day.

At one point you mention this:

"They may be "students", but that does not mean they don't deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a "student" once, too."

Let me just say that I'm not against paying beginners for their work. Sometimes they honest to God deserve that pay, but I don't think beginners should put a price tag on their work when they become noticed. I feel like they should slowly ease their way into doing that. Imagine having somebody who is unable to afford work and can't draw at all come to you and ask you for some free work. It could be the simplest request, are you going to deny that man or woman's request all because they couldn't afford the slightest thing? Now let's go back to a time when you couldn't draw and didn't have the cash to pay for work and you went to somebody for a request and YOU were turned down. Didn't feel so good when you were denied, now did it? What right do you have to deny your customer who's probably a big fan of your work his free request?

It's the people who make others pay for their work who build and create an ego and get a big head from doing what they do. They tend to forget their beginnings and become detached. It's sad really. That's why when I become good at digital art and I become known, I will ALWAYS offer free work to those who ask for it. Because, in that time, I have been in their shoes and know what it's like. Artists who love what they do should ALWAYS do free requests at least once every so often.
MirthSpindle Featured By Owner Edited Oct 17, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If people are unable to pay for art with a price tag, they should fuck off and get a job so they can pay for art, or mooch off of the very rare artist who slave away offering free art.
Titanium-Wrench Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
But for those who are unable to get a job or are in debt or just have financial issues, so some can’t afford it when they themselves can’t draw but want to see something come to life. Yes, they can practice s but sometimes they need the skill right then and don’t have it.
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unforgivable-porn Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2016
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unforgivable-porn Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2016
Venelebat Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
So you're saying I should make my art free if I suck at it but if it's amazing I should make everyone pay?
Sylpharie Featured By Owner May 27, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
As one of the people who can understand this. PREACH THIS SHIT! 
KitSnips Featured By Owner May 13, 2015
I'm a little confused @_@
Venelebat Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Oi me too
polegaria Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm confused on whether this is about asking/begging/demanding free art or just finding an artist who wants to do work for free.
If it's the first, then yeah, I agree completely. If I read it correctly, that way of near damn conning someone and using their insecure nature to get them to think they can't work for cash IS indeed disgusting and shouldn't be done. It's a damned con. A scam. If these artists will be stuck thinking they're not good enough, it's damned well DAMAGING to them, as they will never get anywhere at all due to the mindset given to them. Lord knows I am insecure about EVERYTHING I do. People often pound me in the dirt with it. I never go anywhere with my music, despite being around for 5 years now and there's no way hozay that I'm ever gonna ATTEMPT to get Midnight or Midnight: Enter The Reaper to a publisher. Because of a past of constantly having been used, I have developed an auto-trigger in which I don't feel secure or good enough, which is a thing this kind of behavior does to someone. I've written tons of stories for friends on request/demand that never saw the day of light and most of them just ran off with it. So indeed, this kind of cunning, scamming disgusting behavior is uuunexceptable.
ArtOfTheMystic Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
... and don't give away copyright. Do you know what a image is worth when you sell copyright? Check it out here:
revjasper Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014  Professional Filmographer
I usually give artwork for free- because in my mind, art is free- I am a starving artist, if I use or request someone else's stuff I give them full credit, and if it makes a profit I make sure they are getting the majority of that. I am not a giant corporation, so I try to make a name for myself and others by helping my work get seen as well as other artist. Yeah I would never ask a mechanic to work on my car for free- but since my name isn't Andy Warhol, and my work isn't a part of some nationwide ad, the more exposure I can get for my talent, the possible more doors it opens in the future for me to make money off my passion. Art is meant to beautiful and respected, but your argument has a huge tone of greed in it. do you do artwork of money? I only help other artist and small folks....of course that's my problem, I love art for art, I do art for love, not my bank account. If someone wants a mural of my artwork in their living room, hell I say go for it, I would even come over and sign it.  As far as contests, you are right, they do rip you off, that's the point of it, a cheap way to get free marketing for a giftcard and a coke....but don't enter contests. I just don't agree with the greed factor. You want my art, you like it and you're not trying to make money off me that's cool, if yer scamming me, then hey you gotta live with that, it all comes full circle. Just do art.....whatever you love to do and share it with the world.....    JTW
demetrio13 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Then please enlighten me why not submit stock art like those available in shutterstock, and sites such as that. That's why I came to deviantart to try to find images ALREADY DRAWN that I can use. I cant afford to pay for original art, but I would pay for a digital image. On some art it states that it could i buy it but these are prints not downloads. and speaking of downloads I find many images that I can download, but it does not list a price for doing so, so I assume its free. I am reluctant to use this as I am simply trying to find ebooks covers. Some friends have advised me to photoshop them to alter them and make them as my own. So how do the downloads work? 
LeighAD Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2013
This is a long comment, but you will find that I not only answered your question, but linked to various resources you need and will find helpful.

Stock art is different, Pamzylove is talking creating original art for a client, not stock. Most downloadable images are not stock and are not for others' commercial projects (like an ebook) but there for personal viewing and enjoyment  (except when they are in the stock category, because then and only then can they be considered stock. There are still rules to read).

This site has an entire section for that stuff. What you are after is in the "Resources" category. Here: This is where you want to be, it's safe to assume using anything outside this section is committing art theft and you may get sued, your book will definitely get removed, and you clearly don't want to break the law anyway. There are various categories in this section. Occasionally people accidentally put things in the wrong category.

Keep these guidelines in mind when using any resource: (does not apply to the tutorials of course)
**Before using ANY resource, check the artist's policy to ensure you don't violate their guidelines or terms of use. They will either list these in the artist's comment below the image or link to the appropriate dA journal or webpage. If you can't find any rules, ask or don't use it.
**Make sure you know whether the resource can be used commercially. If it is only for personal use, you cannot use it for your ebook. This is the biggest thing to watch for (most people seem to allow commercial use, but be careful). If they don't specify or you can't tell, ask. Otherwise I'd advise against taking the risk.
**Check to see if they require you credit them if you use their stock. Since you are using it for a book it shouldn't be too much trouble to credit them (many printed books include credits for their covers), just make sure you know who requires credit for what. If they don't specify you are probably fine not crediting them, but I'd ask to be sure or do it just to be safe. 
**Some stock requires you pay to download and use it. The vast majority don't, but make sure you don't try to use it without paying.
**If they specify certain types of work their resource may not be used in, make sure you oblige. Kind of a given. Limitations sometimes include porn/obscene material, racist/hateful works, or other sorts of things. Most people don't make this sort of rule, but some do so watch for it.

To make a cover, you will need an art program other than paint. Gimp is free and comparable to Photoshop if you don't have or can't afford Photoshop, Sai, Corel, whatever else people are using these days. Gimp can be found here:

If you are a beginner, check this… . If your cover looks professional, people are more likely to buy it.

This is where clip-art lives - I'm sure you're shocked. XD Lots of cool stuff, check it out. Some of them are made from photos.
These will mostly be photographs or images rendered with a 3d program. Definitely check the fractals. Check clip-art too as some of them are made from photos as well.
Lots of categories. Good source for patterns and stuff.
Don't go too crazy with these, even though they are fun. Make sure people can still read it. No more than two, maybe three fonts total on your cover and title page. Stick with something basic for the interior - you don't need anything custom except maybe for notes written by characters or chapter headings.
BRUSHES and Other Program Specific Resources:…
Brushes live here. Some are for painting and drawing, and some are more like stamps. Just get the right ones for your program.

And for actual art tutorials:…
Pick your program. Due to similarity in tools and functions, many photoshop lessons may be applicable in Gimp. You'll probably need to make adjustments, and things won't be the same place.
There's good stuff here, and as a writer you'll appreciate it.
Tutorials on using DeviantArt:…
Other questions? Visit the forums ;D -->
ArtOfTheMystic Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I contributed several comments over time to this, now I have something to pass on that is very much related to this line item #6: Some will ask you to "submit work for consideration" etc.
Exactly this happened to Designer Artist Juan Luis Garcia - read his letter to Spike Lee here:…
Then check what Spike Lee had to sau about it in his Tweet, but more important, read the comments on it:…
ArtOfTheMystic Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I commented on here a long time ago - now I find something similar, a good read in the New York Times Sunday Review: Slaves of the Internet, Unite!…
a short excerpt from the second page:
".....I know there’s no point in demanding that businesspeople pay artists for their work, any more than there is in politely asking stink bugs or rhinoviruses to quit it already. It’s their job to be rapacious and shameless. But they can get away with paying nothing only for the same reason so many sleazy guys keep trying to pick up women by insulting them: because it keeps working on someone. There is a bottomless supply of ambitious young artists in all media who believe the line about exposure, or who are simply so thrilled at the prospect of publication that they’re happy to do it free of charge......"
Vero-Al-Cuore Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
*Flails arms up* Aaaaaaaaaamen! Finally someone understands D:
TRACER70 Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013  Hobbyist Interface Designer
you Said it!
mind if I repost this!?
TRACER70 Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013  Hobbyist Interface Designer
all over the place!?
triple--eight Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013  Professional General Artist
fave ever after
A-n-t-e-n-o-r-A Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2013   Digital Artist
I nеver intended to make art for the money, untill things came to a point, when i have no money and i need them a lot. :D I do not concider myself a pro... yet. may be i am even one of those pople, who suck. Compared to milions of others i really do. But if someone likes my work can either pay for it, or AT LEAST try not to mind-rape me with demands.
Ok, i am not Luis Royo, or Peter Lee, or Ivan Shishkin, or fucking, Vincent Van Gogh, i get that, i'm not blind. but can they not act like i owe them something?
I've head encounters with great people, and i like it when my art is makeing people happy, ok?
But i have met some ungratefull, demanding, *18+ word*
It's not them wnating free art, that offends me. It is them DEMANDING free, complicated and detailed stuff as if it is their right. As if they make me a favor that they turned their attention at me. WIF?!
LadyAviator Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am glad I stumbled across this! Just last week my neighbor had asked me to shoot some portraits and retouch them for her like I did in the past. Last time I did it for a low price of 40.00 because she handed me the money and told me to photograph her sometime...months later when she finally decided it was a good time to take photos I did. I spent over an hour shooting, and over a week retouching them all...the reason I didn't ask for more money was because I considered it experience. Later I found my work on her FB page with no credit what so ever pointed at me, yet she was getting a ton of feed back...I feel this lost me more jobs, because she wouldn't refer me to anyone...WELL...just last week she approached me again, and asked me if I could do more portraits of her and more retouch work and asked what I would charge. I told her I offer different services as different prices, and I would give her a print out she could look over. Before I was getting ready to leave she said "you'll give me a discount right?"..I was so offended by this. I have been photographing for about 6 years, the same amount of years I have experience in photoshop and she wants a discount from me! I spent years teaching my self the skills, paying for equipment and all my work is worth 40.00 or a discount to her? So I decided NO I WILL NOT grace her with my work. Its just so offense, even my roommates have seen one of my pieces, which I made as a personal project to hang on my wall. I spent over 12 hours making it, and they asked to buy a copy...I was thinking it over, then they said "but before we buy it, can you modify it for us?? we don't care for how thick you drew this one line?" FUCK!! SERIOUSLY???!...They even said my price was too high! So they never got the piece, and they will NEVER own a piece of my art! especially one not modified to their 'liking'

Anyway, I do thank you so much for posting this..I know I came across this years after you posted, but it really fits with what I am going through. Thank you for encouraging me to stay strong and not back down. Myself as a person, and my art are worth being appreciated.
s4ndm4n2006 Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Agreed 100% :) Giving art away to a friend or for personal reasons is the only exception to this rule. for commercial purposes I've found far too many expecting art for free or nearly nothing. They don't realize the hours it takes and the years it's taken some of us to get to where we are. In my case I still don't make a living on it because it's so hard to. posting this to my profile. Thank you.
triple--eight Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013  Professional General Artist
agreement for these quote "Giving art away to a friend or for personal reasons is the only exception to this rule"
s4ndm4n2006 Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:) thanks
mystic1988 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
I agree 100%. I think if you have the talent and the ablity to make great art, Then you should get paid for it.
chelsea-designs Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I shared this to my facebook... about 80% of the work I do is free. How else will I get exposure? I'm always hoping the next one will pay off, the next, the next. I'm hungry damn it!
Thank you for this article. <3
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