We need more creative heroes to stand up to the #Showtimes of the world. Stop working for #FREE

Last week my brother sent me this article from adweek titled: “Meet the Hero Designer Who Publicly Shamed Showtime for Asking Him to Work for Free How Dan Cassaro’s tweet became a rallying cry” 

Essentially, Dan Cassaro stood up for all of us who are seeing more requests to provide creative services for gratis. Showtime sent him a letter asking him to join a group of designers to submit ideas for a boxing match event in Las Vegas. If his design was chosen, then he’d get a prize package.

The exchange was posted to Twitter, where hopefully it’ll get more legs.

Mind you, Showtime took the stand that no one needed to accept the challenge, if you will.

But as a photographer, this is a growing if not grown challenge that we are faced with more and more often. The music industry alone is riff with photographers who work for nothing, or next to nothing, covering concerts and festivals for magazines, blogs and other publications.

The point is that a boxing match in Vegas is far from a low-dollar event. Money is flung like pooh from gorillas’ filthy hands at events like this. It makes the discrepancy between the poor and rich look like a fenced-in circus with all the poor wander around outside wondering how a thousand men could bet thirty times their annual income on a single fight.

I’ve been asked to work for gratis, and unfortunately, I work for gratis on occasion. I feel like a hypocrite. I’m still growing my business, and growth takes risk. But it’s articles like these that encourage me.

From the linked article:

In the week since, Cassaro’s tweet has become a viral rallying cry for creatives who feel besieged by expectations of free work. It has more than 5,000 retweets and 5,600 favorites, and has become one of the topic’s most electrifying moments since Mike Monteiro’s “Fuck You Pay Me” speech in 2011. 

Showtime issued a response to BuzzFeed, saying the network is “a strong supporter of artists around the world. This contest, like many others, is entirely optional.”

In response to the question, “Has Showtime responded directly to you?” Cassaro says (emphasis mine):

They wrote me a short and very polite email. Honestly, it’s less about Showtime and more about these hack crowdsourcing campaigns that certain agencies are selling to them. There are lots of folks doing very cool things with user-generated content, but to ask professionals to compete against each other for potential “exposure” is completely different. It’s demeaning, and it lowers the value of everyone’s work.

A comic friend of mine used to have a bit about how you shouldn’t get upset if your food is tainted at a fast food restaurant like Taco Bell. “If someone spits in your food or drops it on a dirty floor and picks it back up and serves it to you,” he would say, “Is it really that guy’s fault? I mean, minimum wage equals minimum effort.”

If minimum wage equals minimum effort, what does free get you?

Think about that all ye greedy corporations and businesses hoping for a gratis deal from the guys and gals with the savoir-faire to represent you.