You go to school, you study your craft, you get experience working in it, you build up a solid portfolio and recommendations -- and people still constantly ask you to do work for free so they can see if they like yours best.
It's a common tale of frustration and endless cycles for people working in creative jobs. And not only people just starting out either, but people who are well established professionals in their field. In this video, advertising company Zulu Alpha Kilo sends a man out to ask people in non-creative professions to do speculative work with the offer to pay them if he decides he likes whatever it is that they give him, be it coffee, picture frames, or services. Unsurprisingly, they all react with the appropriate horror and refuse to make or teach him anything until he pays, like everyone else.
So why is that not the case for creatives?
It's one thing to write a book or take a photo and try to sell them to someone else for distribution, but how often are graphic designers asked to mock up potential logos? Or writers asked to go to endless meetings pitching ideas against other writers to be considered for a movie job? Or composers asked to create a track and "we'll buy it if it fits?"
People all over the internet watching this video are leaving comments about how everyone needs to band together and stop agreeing to work for free in order to combat this problem. It's not a bad idea, but it is an ignorant one. There will always be someone -- maybe not as good, probably less experienced -- willing to do work for free to get a foot in the door. Maybe, instead, people in charge should just stop asking for free work to be done.
What a novel idea, right?