Artists are often asked to make real the vision of another; and for their efforts in this task, the artist is usually compensated. Sometimes however, the client/group/organization requests that the artist first create and present a "sketch" or mini-version of the finished product. This is in an effort to determine whether or not to go forward with the design. Herein lies the gray area where many artists are not paid for their services.
In the last few years, I have been recruited by three separate organizations to manifest a logo, brand, or a "pictorial history"--for free. Each time, I obliged, for various reasons. And each time, I learned something valuable that I carried with me into the next opportunity. After three separate rejections, and many hours of unpaid creative labor, I am happy to announce that I no longer provide free renderings.
The world asks of its artists to provide "free estimates" as though we are similar to plumbers (no shade to the trades). Yet there is no hesitation to pay upfront for the services of an architect or graphic designer--even if the design is ultimately not chosen. Clearly, these professions hold high rank in the hierarchy of creative work.
I empower other artists who might read this to resist the temptation to work for free. It's hard, I know. Especially when you need the work and the possibility of a job is enough to persuade you to put in a long night of "sketching." Maybe you will be awarded the commission, and your free hours will have been worth it. Hopefully then, with your next big break, you will insist that you be compensated for all of the work.
Image 1: I painted this in October 2019 for the annual Boo Ball hosted by Leadership Cheyenne Class of 2020. They said no and opted instead for a surfing skeleton.
Image 2: Historic Cheyenne Incorporated requested an image of the Pump House to be used for a public awareness campaign in an effort to aid the ailing structure. Instead, a more simplified graphic brand was chosen.
Image 3: There are many large painted boots around Cheyenne representing various organizations, and First United Methodist Church put out a call to artists for their own boot. I threw my hat in the ring for consideration and offered a rendering of my interpretation based on the requests from the committee. My work was not chosen. Oh well. Lesson learned!