The creative industry

by: Giulio Rossi

Ok, so lets say you are a freelancer, most probably a designer or a photographer; raise your hand if you’ve ever been contacted for a job offer by someone telling you that there’s no budget for your services BUT….. there will be a lot of “visibility”! Does it sound familiar to you? I guess it does!

Well, first I would like to inform those who don’t belong to the creative industry, those types of “deals” are pretty common between the “creative people” community. Every once in a while I receive emails where I’ve been kindly asked to draw something without payment in exchange for a huge exposure through all social media, even with my name on it! I tried many times to put myself in their shoes, trying to understand what could actually push and motivate to demand for a free service and nothing more than “insolence” came to my mind to unravel the mystery.

Most of the time I don’t even answer those emails, but If I do, I do it with the aim of letting them know that probably I don’t need visibility, since they’ve already been able to spot me somewhere over the web.  Obviously I could get further exposure if they wish to share my already existing work, but not creating a specific new one under their guidelines but, as you may imagine, my counteroffer is never well accepted.


Of course there are plenty of good reasons to accept such “job offers” however there are lots of reasons to say no as well . Most of the reasons to deny working for visibility are related to the always fair principle that if this is really a job I should be compensated to carry it out. And now regarding the visibility, paid or not, if you draw, write, take a picture, retouch, tattoo, illustrate or create something for someone, it’s inevitable: what you’ve created it’s going to be public online (posted, tweeted, shared, liked, pinned, instagrammed, google plussed) and it will happen! That is simply because people like sharing things online either just for their personal ego or in order to promote their products. And I’m almost sure that if you accept the “job”  you are going to share it through your social media too and then you’ll find yourself gifting them with free promotion, among others! Think about it, yeah it’s like a dog chasing its tail…

mixed media art - work for visibility

On the other hand, we should keep in mind that what caused the propagation of the pay-with-visibility / or work for visibility phenomenon is strictly connected to its belonging environment, the social media. So, for as long as their influence is so important in showcasing and promoting someone’s activity, we need to learn how to use their power and the endless possibilities of great visibility they could offer, effectively towards our goals.

Now, let’s try to illustrate some scenarios where it could be useful and productive offering work for visibility  our unique talent without doing too much damage to our self-esteem.

1) I’m a greenhorn! I’ve just getting started to let the world know about my works, I have all the intentions to make it right but I lack of experience, so many things to learn yet no valuable contacts. I also don’t have any other projects to work on so guess I’m probably a good candidate! I’m still relatively young and I perfectly understand that I have to pay my dues…(and you’ll never stop doing it darling!)

2) My portfolio is full of work so similar to each other, I’m not fully pleased by it or I need some new concepts to test and improve my skills. I know I’m not going to be paid but sometimes it’s good to experience with different things.

3) I’ve always wanted to associate my name with this important company who’s requesting me a free service, well that’s not my idealistic start for a long lasting collaboration but I’m gonna try and see what happens…

At the end of the day, visibility is not that bad, we just have to examine it under the right prospective which is the one corresponding to our personal situation the exact moment when we’ve received those type of offers.

It goes without saying that everything we decide to accomplish as creative people needs to be consider as an open door for personal growth and experience so, maybe next time think twice before say no.

Artist & Designer


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