November 2, 2013

Artists Beware! Ad Agency Paying in Exposure

"If we had money for this, we'd be going after real artists…who paint on real canvases. Not the digital fake stuff."

When I received the original Email from Roy of a famous New York Advertising Agency asking me to work for 'exposure' for one of his multimillion dollar clients, I was going to just let it go and chalk it up to another day, another non-paying offer in the life of an artist. We get this kind of nonsense all the time. That doesn't make it right but there isn't much we can do to stop this kind of thinking and behavior from the people that wish to use our very specialized set of skills… right?

After considering it for a couple of days, I decided that I didn't have to just accept this. No artist should… ever! You would never ask a Doctor to give you free treatment for good word of mouth. You would never tell a Coffee shop that in lieu of payment, you're going to tell everyone how great the coffee you just bought is.

I decided to reply to Mr. Creative Director and say pretty much that! Here is his original Email to me (I've removed his client name to protect them for the time being);

Hey Travis,

My name is Roy and I'm an Associate Creative Director at a respected global ad agency in New York called ****. I'm personally reaching out to you to see if you would be interested in working on a proactive print campaign for ****.

I really love your work and believe you would be perfect for this assignment, the only downfall is that because it is proactive, our budget is very slim to none. The idea and campaign would have the backings of a global agency, who would submit your illustration into multiple awards shows and publications getting you global exposure; and the high chance of winning some awards.

If you are interested in the project, please let me know and I'll send you a PDF of the idea.

Hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Roy


And, my reply;

Hey Roy,

Thank you for the Email and interest in my work.

While I appreciate your offer, I find it difficult to believe that a high-profile and international Ad agency like **** who is working with a multimillion dollar company like **** has slim to no budget for promotional material and artwork that will be shown globally.

I'm sure you wouldn't be willing to work for free yourself, right? You've probably studied and worked hard to get your current position and maybe you even enjoy what you do and that shouldn't mean you don't get paid for the work you do.

I'm no different.

Thank you once again for the Email and offer, I do appreciate the interest in my work and considering you found me to contact me personally I would say I already have great exposure to my work in this modern age of the internet.

Best regards,

Travis


I wanted to remain polite while also showing him just how rude and ignorant it is to approach an artist in this way.

Here is his response to me;

If we had money for this, we'd be going after real artists…who paint on real canvases. Not the digital fake stuff.

And going onto Behance, searching for "Digital Sci-Fi Artist" took about 3 minutes. Not as much exposure as you think.

But good luck, I'm sure you're having a blast in Tokyo. It's a brilliant city.


Personally, I would say that only 3 minutes of searching before I popped up is great exposure to my work!

Seriously though, this response was so unprofessional and disrespectful that I was left dumbfounded. Any Creative Director who would reply to an artist in this way has absolutely no respect for any artist, whether they work digitally or otherwise.

Could I just let this go and chalk it up to another day for any artist?

Not this time. This time I'm sharing my experience with other artists, warning them to stay away from any offer made by people likes this.

People like Roy need to learn to respect artists in this day and age and fear how easy it is for us to give them exposure when they treat us poorly.









46 comments:

  1. Thanks for the heads up Travis. There are many people like that going around in this industry. Saying no, is the best thing we can do for our careers and for the industry. Bravo! They are just not educated about what their actions will do to even their own fields. All we can do is hope they realize it in time. On the brighter side, I know independent creative people who actually fork out decent amounts of money from their own pockets to pay you up front for their personal projects. We can encourage that, show more appreciation and build up a better structure for this amazing field in the arts. Thanks again Travis. Your stuff is great btw ;) Keep it up!

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  2. Good on you for bringing this to light. I've shared on Facebook.
    Can't let these assholes get away any longer.

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  3. Good for you Travis, that is a very rude response and you're right you shouldn't always have to work for free to get your work exposed to other agencies who would be more than happy to pay for an artist if they truly believe that they will put in the time and effort to produce quality results, like your work. :) You won't be able to live and support yourself very well if all the work you do is for free. This example almost seems like a scam, and you were very observant of the situation given. I hope the best for your future endeavors and look forward to seeing more of your work.

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  4. This "Ray Torres" is yet another example of the complete bottom-feeder scumbags that many artists will no doubt encounter in their careers. If the client has no budget, it's SPAM. So many artists get conned out there, *sigh* and shitheads like this guy are out there to molest any talent that they can find. Sad... TJ, thanks for setting him straight. You handled it very professionally and his response shows the utter lack of industry savvy; yet another mark of the SPAM client!

    P.S. Ad agencies are usually well-funded if there worth half a shit so....*phew* that felt good lol

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  5. wow, someone tell Roy Torres that artists are at liberty to use the very same advancement of technology that he himself uses to dispense his ill-educated thoughts at lightning speed worldwide...

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  7. Ray Torres should be fired. And speaking as a published author, I feel the same way when asked to do speaking engagements and other events for free. I've never had the guts to speak out and say "I worked hard to get where I am and deserve to get paid," but reading this post made me angry and it's time to expect to be treated as professionals.

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  8. Wow, very unprofessional response from this art director. As if asking you to work for free wasn't rude enough! You did the right thing.

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  9. Thank you TJ for such a great post, as artists we all have these situations and you handled it well - I am just sorry you had to experience such a response to a clearly respectful and polite initial reply.

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  10. http://vimeo.com/70109742

    Here's a link to a video of Ray Torres. It says that he's a photographer in his description. Apparently he holds point and shoot art in a higher regard than digital painting. What an ass.

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    1. ah, um, ah, - rather pitiful presentation with images stolen off the web.

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    2. just listening to the guy talking...major dick head, trained in manipulation

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    3. 'ROY' Torres...The post says Roy Torres

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  11. Incredible answer, and also this show how the photography is evaluated, commodity. An agency who care its name and reputation, should fire an employee of this kind. In the past no company allowed such type of answers, and no-one would have dreamed of give it.

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  12. The worst thing about this, is that the lame offer and idiot response came from a fellow "creative person"! I expect this behavior from non-artists and corporate types... but when we start to eat our own, it's a real problem.

    Bravo, TJ! Your response was professional and well stated.

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  14. The letter is from a ROy Torres, not a RAy Torres. Before this gets out of hand, make sure you have the right guy. Are you sure this photographer, whose name is spelled differently, is the same person?

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    1. ^ Well, forget that post. It's titled "RAY Torres", but it clearly says "Roy" in the body of the post, and it says he's the Creative Director of Grey. My apologies.. Blast away.

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  15. Also, a lot of these people think that because we, as creatives, can do what we do, that it's easy for us to just "sit there and draw" (or paint, or whatever else it is we do) and make art appear on a page.

    They don't understand the training we had to do, usually on our own dime, and the years it took to get to this point.

    I always tell people like this, "If it's so easy to do, I invite you to sit at my desk for eight hours, do what I do, and see if you're not exhausted at the end of the day." Usually, that shuts them up.

    Good job, TJ. I will help spread this around.

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  16. So unprofessional! Thanks for sharing, Tj.

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  18. Thanks for the heads up. More artists should name and shame companies that try and get something for nothing while reaping in massive dollars themselves

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  19. For Context - we should all take a look at Grey Advertising's VERY flash and VERY expensive website, which clearly shows off their VERY expensive facilities as well as their Park Avenue New York Address.

    http://grey.com/

    Multi Millionaires become Multi Millionaires by pleading poverty every hour of every day.

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  20. Here's an interesting fact. Having worked on similar projects in-house as a freelancer (but getting paid) I thought I'd point out that everyone else working on the project at Grey is getting paid for the spec work campaign they are trying to land. But it looks like the job needs something they couldn't find from a stock photo website. So, here's another angle I'm surprised he didn't offer. Let's say he landed this golden goose client. He's still not going to pay you? If you ever decide to do spec work to land a multi-million dollar client you should have it in your contract that you get paid maybe even double or triple. (You have a contract right?)

    That is of course if Grey is a "real" advertising company not one of those fake ones. Then of course he's doing this out of his dad's office on Park Ave.

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  21. I'd love to see this posted on their facebook page.

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  22. time to bring back this old chestnut: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2a8TRSgzZY

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  23. What the heck. Kudos to you Travis. You're representing all of us.

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  24. Travis.... you already know this, but to all the other young artists out there you need to watch this video!!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3RJhoqgK8

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  25. Way to stand your ground! Dont let these people walk over you and get the best of you (You = the artist!)

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  26. Good for you Travis and thanks for sharing with the rest of us. It's ridiculous how many people contact artists and offer to pay in "exposure". I generally turn them down as well since my local grocery store has informed me i can not purchase cereal from them using my exposure. They only accept cash and credit cards. Sadly. :) It's pretty amazing how utterly unprofessional the guy's response was to your polite letter too. Boggles the mind. cheers!

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  27. Hahahhaha awesome,
    I was recently asked to do some free work for Swamp Ape studios for a guy named Von Kreep or something like that. I just sent him a pretty firmly worded reply to the effect that I do NOT work for free......
    Not really sure why these people think that just because we enjoy what we do, we'd somehow be willing to do it for free. I thought this was something that only artists have to deal with, but a friend of mine who is a pilot was once asked to fly a plane for no wages....he declined of course.

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    1. Hi Erica, funny you mention Von Kreep, I have worked for the guy before, some of the guys that worked on the same project created this blog about the whole experience. Check it out if you get a chance. http://oneal-pignani-is-a-crook.blogspot.com/

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  28. Cheers Travis,
    I've shared on FB, my story has been similar to yours for many years. Working on spec, usually under duress, for a job you know won't happen. I remember seeing my character designs in a spot once, that i didn't get. I'm an animator, i know a lot of artists, so hopefully they'll enjoy and share too. Funny this guy has taken down his site, so he must be embarrassed, at least. Adam

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  29. That guy was a disrespectful knob. I took a moment of my time to write the Chief Communications Officer Owen Dougherty at Grey to let him know that I thought their Mr. Torres was unprofessional and to express how unacceptable it is to expect and request that anyone to work for free. I also expressed a hope that Grey is paying their artists what they deserve and a hope that they respect artists, their time, and work. It was quite the nice and respectful letter.

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  30. thankyou for this... full respect!

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  31. Thank you for sharing this with us, We can't afford to let this people get away with this any longer

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  32. Have you circulated this on twitter yet? You are fully within your rights to do so, and include Grey NY's twitter name. That way everyone out there, clients and vendors alike, know exactly who they are dealing with, and your helpful tweet will come up a lot quicker than 3 minutes for anyone wanting to know about Grey NY online.

    Large agencies need to realize that the actions of their employees, which by the way are usually sanctioned by those above them, have a a nasty way of tainting the company's reputation both short and long term. If they ask you to take it down, you can ask for Torres to be fired first.Fire at will!

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  33. Guys, this is pretty common in the advertising industry. Thats why its so normal for so many of them to do this. Unfortunately this is only because too many artists over the years have allowed themselves to be sold out and now this is the box many in this industry have put us in. We can change this, but its up to each one of us when and if we are approached like this.

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  34. Reading this disgusting story about Roy Torres reminded me that I did in fact work for Grey's "Blue Marble" web agency for a month back sometime in the late 90s. Several freelancers were hired because the day before, the ENTIRE ART STAFF had walked out. We never found out why. But for an entire month I did web design and edits and in that month it was never clear who I was to report to. Not even anyone there to ask. Weird, unsettling and easily the most dysfunctional work environment I'd ever been exposed to and I've been exposed to a lot!

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  35. Unfortunately it is not just advertising agencies and it is not going to end but will increase as more artists look to get their work "out there". Artists are so willing to have their work shown that they care little to the decrease in value. Some of you may have gotten this email today from a site much like Pinterest. Here was my reply. For those who do not know me I was one of the five artists falsely sued by Graphic Artists Guild for telling the truth. http://www.ami.org/2011/graphic-artists-guild-lawsuit-dismissed.html

    Hi J****** and thanks for the email.
    I am sure you have sent this email to many other artists and I may be the only one to ask these questions.
    Since you emailed me I would like to ask and please do not take this the wrong way but I am a bit confused by your querry.
    Are you asking that I provide you content for free so that you can create a site that will at some time provide you with a revenue stream? If that is the case, how will you ensure that those who provided you with their intellectual property, free of charge, be compensated should you turn around and sell this venture or that it generates a cash flow? Will you offer some type of revenue should the venture take off. Something like a stock option? Or are you asking artists that they provide content in the form of copyrighted images and of course the time spent, with no compensation at all but as a kind gesture that will help you create a business in which only you will prosper? Is the only compensation you are offering that of "exposure" of our own websites through links? If that is the case, please understand that my business is not a non-profit but one made to generate income and revenue to pay my bills and hopefully send my kids to college. And if that is your idea behind your email then I wish you all the best but I must decline.
    Sincerely, Ken Dubrowski

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  36. Extremely unprofessional behaviour from a so-called 'Creative Director'.
    If you're in the mood, I'd take the email conversation back to Grey and boot it upstream from this waste of oxygen, just to see how he handles life as a former Creative Director.

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  37. This is just unbelievable. I'm gonna share this story so more people can find out what happened.

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  38. #1. Roy Torres was most certainly drunk and/ or high when he wrote this nonsense (I wonder what time of night the second email was received). Now his reputation as an agency creative is that he does not regard digital/ new mediums as true art. From now on his clients should make sure he’s only assigned to projects involving good ole fashion paper magazines, where he can feel the pages in his hands.

    #2. At Grey the agency hacks routinely spend hundreds, if not thousands, of the client's dollars in the company’s own internal studio (WPP profit center) preparing materials for client presentations (not referring to artwork, I’m talking about $2 per page printouts of PowerPoint presentations). Based on Roy’s communications, I'm sure this ACD is ignorant about Grey's own internal presentation costs & miscellaneous budgets on his account, or even the rate at which WPP bills him out to the client. This is why he will never be able to intelligently negotiate the salary increase he (incorrectly) feels he deserves, and will therefore transfer his frustration onto the true artists (outside WPP) with whom he attempts to work.

    #3. There is nothing wrong with someone in business asking you to do something on spec or at a low rate. And there is nothing wrong with saying no. This is called a negotiation. What’s absurd is that he insults you after you decline his generous offer of nothing – and he is too inept to foresee the potential implications for himself, his firm, and his client in the digital age.

    #4. Can he be so ignorant? Or perhaps this is the most brilliant viral campaign ever for freeoiloncanvas.com

    #5. Grey blows.

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  39. I must say this Ray sounds rather arrogant or just down in the dumps.
    But still it would be wise of a man in Sales of all things to be polite to all possible artists contributing projects to them. Bad business sense.

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  40. Thanks for Posting a good blog for ! Ad Agencies Ad Agencies .

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