Tagged: working for free

rules of engagement

Since the mid 1990’s I have either politely smiled or viciously walked out of agency meetings with the hump after hearing those fateful words – “its good for your exposure”, “we are a very powerful brand and it would help your career”, “I need to use your studio to test with a well known make up / fashion brand / record label / virgin airlines” or my personal favourite – “next time we need someone like you, we will be sure to call you back and pay you”.

Please forgive the tone of this little rant as I must admit recently I haven’t had to hear this from anyone, nor have I had to get the hump with anyone asking me to fix a problem or find a solution for their own company’s issues, large or small. Maybe it is because I have learned from making such mistakes and the value of the word “No”. I have also stopped agreeing to work with habitual testing companies or those who have excellent ideas on paper yet don’t have the acumen to carry them out. I suppose I have gained enough trust from those who I have worked with recently, however, it is still something that plays on my mind when I am asked (at least once a week) by graduates, people who have recently gone freelance or those who have been looking into attracting new clients.

Working for free, albeit an oxymoron is one of those assumptions that all creative agencies, screen companies, and now Supermarkets feel quite comfortable with. A rather well known Screen Agency insists that any intern be working without wage for over a year before they be considered for a base level intern on any feature film shot in their county. Only to have their name on the credit roll as their way of payment. Could this be due to the past decade of the people listed above falling for the lies and confidence tricks that belie so many young and talented people?

With my experience of working for such super-rich clients, they often employ agencies such as TBWA, McCann or much larger international companies to come up with cultivating a plan of how they can increase attraction and develop a long list of stills images, motion picture or a three dimensional items for any publicity and promotion. Anyone knows that. They act as a buffer and make it easier to get paid, in essence, this is often the point in which the house of cards begins to collapse. The long list of talent then gets the call and the money gets filtered through once the job is done. Dissemination of income is a blessed job if given to the right people. But do we have those kinds of people in this sector? Stand up and be counted, stand up and be recognised for you are angels amongst us all.

Artists and designers, photographers and videographers are still quite often seen as Firemen, they leap into action when the call comes through, they make your problems go away, they often tidy up after themselves and like Firemen, they are often thought to have a second job to fill in the income gaps between “playing with cameras and pencils”. Quite wrong, quite wrong indeed.

It is for many a job, just like any other. Just like a Plumber, a Meteorologist, a Taylor, a Chef, a Barber. They come in all shapes and sizes, ages, genders and colours. And they all need paying for the work they do for you.

On reading this little cutting – from where and when I cannot say, the uncertainty of this being factual is as anything found on Twitter et al, sketchy at best, however I would not be at all surprised to hear this was indeed a legitimate newspaper column.

I would suggest that Ronnie or Claude be ready for a week or two of eloquent abuse.

First of all, the employee issues that Camden branch of Sainsbury’s is experiencing appears to be near cataclysmic and some would take from this advert that they employ nothing but sociopaths. Asking someone to create an oasis of calm for their unhappy staff is not anyone’s problem but Sainsbury’s. Or have I missed the point? As a leading UK retailer, one would trust it would spend time (and money) creating a comfortable and happy place for their staff to work – as investing in people has been at the forefront of their mission since 1998. According to their website.

So to ask a member of the west London creative community to design an interior for no wage and not for the eyes of anyone but their highly stressed staff that require a realm of relaxation is a reflection on how it supports the immediate community and the arts.

Maybe next time you visit a Sainsbury’s you should ask for a weeks worth of groceries and say “I will not be paying for these today, but I will be blogging about the juiciness of your Cantaloupes and crustiness of your baguettes in the morning, pinky promise. Thanks.”

Pithy – yes. but it does grind a little that this was a) agreed on, and b) published.

Alternatively, I suppose any artists or interior designer currently between jobs could do with the Nectar points. How many would one get for painting a chair a lovely calming pantone green 363?

 

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