Messages sent to artists wanting them to work for free

I thought the same thing. Yes his tone is dickish, but the sentiment is dead right. If you want your watermark to stay on the images or if you want attribution, write it in to the contract and offer something in return. It’s the same reason I have car dealers strike out “advertising fees” and remove their badges from my car. It’s not my job to advertise for you, I paid you.


When there’s attribution involved, it’s often possible (but more expensive) to get permission to not display the attribution. I read that one as the buyer still being cheap, assuming that just because they “paid” means that they have full ownership.


A lot of these examples sound like they are digital artists doing drawings for people, characters or avatars. So the artist, like all artists, signed their work. It sounds like the purchaser is saying they erased it because they’re not advertising for the artist.

This would be the same as a museum putting a frame around a Monet and blocking out the bit with his signature. They’re not advertising for his other works you know. Drawings are very, very different from photography.

I can’t think of a photographer that would hand over any paid work with their watermark on it.

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“I tell you what pal, add two more just like it and the game is yours! Just go get them, like, at the bank!”


Customer #4: I’d just returned from a business trip to London, and all the cash I had was a five-pound note. Citiwide wasn’t able to convert it to dollars, but they did give me four guineas, two crowns, four shillings, and ten pence.

Paul McElroy: All the time, our customers ask us, “How do you make money doing this?” The answer is simple: Volume. That’s what we do.


Vendors can be leeches too though.

Best vendor I’ve done business with: IBM. Very professional technicians, fast dispatch, they NEVER break stuff in the field.

Worst: printer technician dispatch. They’ll take a month to schedule a printer tech, they don’t show up half the time, half the time they do show up they manage to take the site offline, they never add notes to the tickets we send them, and they don’t seem to ever read what the specific problem is.


This is like the way I crop out your name from your photos. I’d appreciate it if you’d compose them a little better so it doesn’t look so much like stuff is missing off the bottom when I do that.


I’ve hung out on art boards a lot. So there’s my tin credential badge. But everywhere I’ve seen, cropping out a signature or not crediting the artist, even if you pay in full upfront for the commission, is a total dick move and disrespectful to the artist.


Is that customary? I don’t mean to be argumentative, I just can’t think of a single example of stumbling across an artist’s signature on a digital drawing (“character or avatar”, right?) The boingboing logo isn’t signed. Presumably somebody made it. Your banannaman isn’t signed.

Videos sometimes have an intro card… I’d think twice about republishing a paid-for video without that, I guess.

Am I just being thick headed here?

I’ve never sold any artwork, and the only works I’ve commissioned have been photos. Other art I’ve bought has all been a buy-the-thing sort of deal, where I’m pretty sure I own the thing in question and can do with it what I want (including, say, adding zombies and godzillas to oil paintings - which is an amusing pastime that’s been celebrated here without any pearl-clutching about obscuring the artist’s signature)

It’s also so common in tech/computer related fields that it’s become a hackneyed cliche.


Depends what it is. There is design, like the logo (not signed), and fine art like “Draw me a picture of a wolf furry driving a Corvette”. That typically would be signed. Even like those caricatures you get at a fair are signed.

I could see not wanting to leave in a link, but kinda a douche move taking out the signature. I have had several comic artists do art for me, and I insist they sign it. Even if I get a “no name” print, from a relative unknown, I want it signed.

But, again, it is their art, they paid for. They can use it for toilet paper if they want. Taking out the signature and shutting up about it would be fine, but the attitude is rather dickish, IMHO.


Logos and artwork intended to be used as part of a design are very different from artwork like a painting, sketch, one-off character portrait, etc.

That can be a grey area, but it’s still a dick move. It’s doubly so to explicitly say you won’t even say who actually made the artwork if someone else is interested in it. Pretty easy to understand why artists wouldn’t want to do any work for someone like that.


“Hey, you’re a computer guy right?”

“Helldesk technichian.”

“Yeah, of course. Hey could you unjam my printer, setup my wifi and re-wire my bathroom fan?”

“Maybe. I work for $80 an hour, and don’t do ladders.”

“Fuck off, you can’t charge me for piddly shit you do before lunch every day.”

“Enjoy your stankass bathroom and jammed printer.”


The absurdity of it is that if the “client” were truly able to deliver on valuable, client-proliferating exposure, the artist would already know who they are and would be begging to collaborate with them. If a client has to tell you that they’ll get you exposure in lieu of payment, they’re clearly not capable of following through.

That being said, someone who can get you valuable exposure should also be well funded enough to afford to pay you as well.


Well, I made the Steampunk Banana, so I didn’t feel like it was necessary, as it’s literally next to my name.

But, several of the items you mention are not drawings, they’re logos. Drawings, fine art, they get a signature. That signature is literally a part of the work. And I’m willing to bet a large sum of money that anytime you’ve seen artists adding to paintings that the original signature is not obscured and that the new artist is also given credit.

If you bought a sculpture would you fill in the artist’s signature with some bronze and clean up the lower right corner? Yes, you can do whatever you want with the work, but you are modifying it and it is no longer the artist’s work.


Okay, this was my take as well. It feels like this particular example doesn’t really belong in the gallery of outrageous “work for free” demands. Maybe it even undermines the underlying “look what BS we have to deal with” message.

Heck, I use a DVD player that lets me skip the anti-piracy message. Am I the asshole too?

In the EU, there is such a thing as the moral rights of the artist. The US doesn’t legally recognize this, but it’s still considered poor form to remove a signature from the corner of a work. It’s not so much about advertising as attribution. “X made this.”

On the other hand not wanting to do a linkback is not so bad if you’re paying. Especially if it’s a commercial job. I mean, I would just link back, but I can see someone not wanting to.


Hehe yes, I do not do helpdesk. But some IT related. Use some other words, but yes, it happens a lot. Only people very nearby, and (yes I’m a sucker) when it is an interesting problem/question. Will get a freebee.
But people ask.


Sometimes you’re unintentionally tricked into providing some or more than expected tech support and computer training when you’re helping someone. The request is, “help me figure out this form on this website.” The path to doing so involves fixing their wifi because they can’t get the internet to load, removing all the free advertising toolbars from their browser and resetting their homepage to google or yahoo or bing, teaching them how to go to the website by typing in the URL field rather than in the google search box, etc.


Oh, yes they do! The pitch, however, is always at parties and other social get-togethers.
Try it sometime: Tell everyone at a meaningless party (where you’ll never see anyone again) that you’re a dentist; betcha see lots more toofuses than you planned that night xD !