What is work experience (working for free) ?

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Thread: What is work experience (working for free) ?

  1. #1
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    What is work experience (working for free) ?

    Hello I was trying to find an already made thread on this but I'll make one instead.

    Anyhow, I have been working on a cover letter to get work experience in any job related field to help me get my foot in the door.
    I am also looking for a any day job like working at mc donalds, k mart, warehouse, cinemas etc. But I have an Aunty who wants me to use my life for work experience and rather not take any student loan for studying or a random job for just money. I am talking about working for free and aiming for your goals but I want to start from the bottom. Whether is being a runner, working on video editing or receptionist and so forth. Something to do to help pay your bills.


    What is work experience?
    Can you look for work experience by having no skills, talents but have commitment, motivation enthusiasm, and hardworking quality?
    IS it possible to get work experience in things like concept art, even though you haven't done it, only trying it out, or maybe lower the standards and try illustration, graphic designer, photography etc << I just want to get a foot in the door and learn how everything works in the company because at school/studies they don't teach this. What your everyday job is going to be like.
    Is portfoio required for this?
    Is technicial required for this or can you learn that on the job?

    I know there some people here who went to work and not study because they had to make money, so I thought I ask those people.

    Sorry for long text.

    thank you, much appreciated.

    Last edited by eru; February 17th, 2014 at 09:15 PM. Reason: more questions
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  3. #2
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    DO. NOT. WORK. FOR. FREE.

    If you don't have enough experience to get a job in, e.g. concept art, then find a job you can do (flipping burgers, sweeping floors, whatever) to earn money, and draw/advertise until you are competitive and/or famous enough on your own. Many people do that. The trick is finding a job that pays your bills without sucking up all of your time and soul.

    The only reason to join a, say, game studio as a janitor in hope to get a job as an animator is the chance to network, connect to the people who are "in". There were cases like that which worked out, and it clearly is a better chance to know the right people than a job at McDucks that does not give you access to the right people in the first place.

    But even in that case, you get paid to sweep the floor.

    You might go to college, of course, but beware of student loans, indeed. An educational institution can be a good place to make valuable contacts and learn the ropes - but not every college is good for that, so do your research first. The student loans don't only poison the student's life, they also poison a lot of colleges who see it as easy money they can get without actually teaching any real skills, so do your research doubly thoroughly. If you cannot get into a really good one, get a side job and study on your own - and do the networking anyway. Get a side job even if you ARE accepted into a really good college, apply for grants, anything to not amass debt.

    So, anyway. The only times you might consider working for free are:

    1. Personal work. All profit, experience, promotion etc. from that is yours.

    2. Pro bono work. If there is a cause you support, and volunteering to design something for it would be good for your promotion, then you might do it. This case only includes non-profit groups and organizations; commercial entities must pay.

    3. Promotional work. Sometimes you might enter contests or thematic exhibitions or volunteer for art projecta, IF it offers a good opportunity to expose your work, look good on your resume and/or help you make valuable contacts. However, do NOT enter fake "contests" where some company offers $500 to whoever designs the best new logo for them - that's just a way to get several tens of thousands dollars' free work out of a crowd of suckers and pay $500. "Good" projects of this type would usually involve industry professionals, and not be for profit.

    I might add internship here, but a decent company does not use its interns as free help. You should be getting paid for your help (if not the industry rate for experienced professionals), and you should be LEARNING something as an intern. The trick done a lot lately, when the "intern" is paid nothing and used to serve coffee and taught zilch, is NOT internship, it's a scam.

    If you are worried about not getting experience in real-world scenarios if you only do personal work at first, then just design something for a fake brand or for your OWN brand, or redesign some existing thing. This is how courses in art and design often work: you find a project someone else did before, and do your own take on it to learn the method.

    Then there is "spec work." Frequently you see "job" adds offering "experience, credit and something for your portfolio" instead of payment. Another type is where they offer "work for free, then get royalties when we get paid millions". These are scams.

    Experience is not payment. You get experience by default, whether you work for someone or for yourself. It comes with doing what you do, someone's profiting from it does not increase it.

    Credit is not payment. An artist is expected to get a credit line when his work is used, unless it is work-for-hire or the contract specifically states otherwise.

    Addition of the piece to artist's portfolio is not payment. The artist is entitled to do that by default, as well as use the commissioned work in whatever other ways, again, unless it is work-for-hire or the contract specifically states otherwise.

    Exposure is not payment. You do not get more paying jobs because you designed someone's flyer, logo or cover for free. What you might get is more freeloaders, because you've just shown that you can be suckered.

    Working for free in hope for future profit is equivalent to investing your own money into someone else's project, with no guarantee to ever get it back. Nearly all these projects never get funded, or never sell enough for you to break even. If the producer is confident enough that his project will bring money, he might as well prove it by investing his own money, not yours. If he doesn't want to invest his own money, he does not believe it will be profitable - figure your chances to get paid in that case.

    Relatives who want to employ you become employers, and should not be entitled to free lunches. You employ someone, you must pay them competitive rates.

    Worse, most of the time freeloaders like this are NOT people who you want to associate with. Don't expect a good working environment or growth opportunities.

    So DO NOT WORK FOR FREE. You will only be making work condition worse for everyone else, yourself included, by dumping the prices down.

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    P.S. It's a sad thing that you think illustration is inferior to concept art.

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    Well Arenhaus I think you pretty much just covered everything lol. I wish I have something to add other than that, but I don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    P.S. It's a sad thing that you think illustration is inferior to concept art.
    how about the others? I don't think graphic design, photography etc. are inferior to concept art, either. Just different. Also, being a professional grade photographer takes a lot of experience, technical skill and a sense of lighting and composition. This is not an art form to be underestimated. Trust me, when I was a teenage kid I thought photography was nothing more than just 'pushing a button'...boy if i could go back in time and smack myself lol..

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    Sorry for going off topic:

    Well, the purely technical aspect of photography is much easier and faster to learn than the technical aspect of representational art.

    That's about it though. Doesn't make it inferior of course.

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    Hmmm... I agree with what Arenhaus is saying, but I also appreciate that times are tough and it's getting harder and harder to get the foot in the door so I wanted to put a different POV on the question if may

    Personally if I were in your shoes and someone in a games or film studio was like - well we're not employing but sure why not come in and be an intern or something. I think I might just consider it.

    Whilst it's true that in general decent studios don't ask people to come in as interns because you just don't have the time to be dealing with people hanging out and not necessarily contributing to the pipeline, you NEVER know. If I got the chance to hang out in a studio like Pixar or Weta, I'd be there, and I've got 15 years working experience behind me! Why?

    Well because when you're in there you fucking stick your shit under everyone's noses - I don't care if I'm being annoying - you're getting my ass for free! It's kinda accepted I guess. The term 'runner' comes from exactly that - some young dude who you bring in to do random stuff - and yeah it's horrible and difficult to do unless you're young and willing, but it works. I know people who started as runners and are now everything from producers to directors of photography etc... When they were in there, they just stuffed their work in front of everyone they could and then doors got opened - and not necessarily in the place they were interning at. People are good - and they recognise it when someone has drive and talent. They'll make phone calls and recommendations. You don't know the people in the business but they will.

    Also don't forget the importance of being a nice guy that people like. Nobody wants to work with a jerk no matter how talented. The kind of places you're talking about are crammed full of people - it's a production team - a factory where people need to work together. If you get in somewhere and if you can get the people to like you, you've made a huge step in your chances of getting hired. If all that people have to go on is your portfolio and a covering letter, it's not much. But if you come in like a ray of sunshine and you're full of energy and you show you're willing - that makes a big difference. You're work might not be quite as good as this other guy's but if they think you'll improve, that you're dedicated, that you'll fit into a team - then that might just be the ticket for you.

    Every studio no matter how 'elite' has a spectrum of talent, personalities and experience. In places I've worked, there's been some really amazing talent and some not so amazing talent - it's a team effort. Life is way more complex and strange than you can possibly imagine and when you get your foot inside somewhere, you're opening up a whole world of possibilities that might not exist if you were looking in from the outside.

    Having said that... places I DEFINITELY wouldn't intern at - start ups and small joints (sub 50 full timers). Waste of time - chances of employment are slim - chances of being abused to create stuff for free - high. If I weren't married and had to think about what my partner wanted to do or didn't, if I were 18 - yeah I'd get the big brass balls on - and phone around. I'd find the places making stuff I want to work on - bioware, square enix etc... and I'd just bug the hell out of them. I'd turn up at the reception every day and hassle them. Attitude not aptitude determines altitude... the guy who shows he really wants something WILL get it. At the very least if I was art director and some kid was turning up every single day at the reception trying to get in, I'd look at his work and tell him what I think he should do - and if he did it and actually improved - hell yeah I'd be impressed. I might even hire him. I have a friend of mine who got hired with rebellion I think it was. That's exactly what he did - New Zealander - big balls - just turned up. Of course he had decent work too...

    K

    Last edited by lovingit; February 18th, 2014 at 12:23 PM.
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    Reply to Arenhaus : Thank you so much and Your totally right I think thats plenty for me to understand now.

    Reply to kayness: Totally my fault I mean different.

    Reply to lovingit: Thank you too and this is something I am willing to do. xD

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    Quote Originally Posted by lovingit View Post
    Well because when you're in there you fucking stick your shit under everyone's noses - I don't care if I'm being annoying - you're getting my ass for free! It's kinda accepted I guess. The term 'runner' comes from exactly that - some young dude who you bring in to do random stuff - and yeah it's horrible and difficult to do unless you're young and willing, but it works.
    The problem is not with Pixar or Weta, it's when every employer begins to feel entitled to free work because of it. Hey, they are coming to your door begging to be let in! Why pay them if they will work for free? Hell, make THEM pay for the privilege!

    Guess why that attitude keeps popping up? Because of guys like that willing to bust their ass for free for any random employer. They are poisoning the market by dumping prices. Not every employer will stoop low enough to exploit people like that, but the market always has a range of prices, and working for free pulls the lower limit to zero, and the average gets lower because of it. Everyone gets paid less because the price is expected to be low, and cheaper alternatives are available. You are lucky to get paid anything

    I am exaggerating, of course, but it's to illustrate the point. The market value of a skill that takes years to master becomes cheaper than sustainable level because there are people willing to invest their own resources into ousting you, in effect - instead of competing on skill. It's not unlike Wal-mart selling at a loss to drive competitors out of business. (Wal-mart also shifts that loss to their employees, incidentally.) They don't care that they actually hurt their own prospective pay by doing it.


    So, seek opportunities to get to know people, to show your work. But don't be a brown nose. And don't undermine your own future.


    The rest of that post, re: networking is good advice. Provided that you *are* at the right place and the right time to actually be able to appear in person at Pixar's or Weta's lobby.

    Last edited by arenhaus; February 19th, 2014 at 03:53 AM.
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    makes me so keen to move to wellington and give it a try

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    Honestly, I don't think the erosion of our earning power is to do with people being willing to work for nothing. The fact is that any business trying to get stuff done is going to fall over if they start relying on intern power even if its just 10%. I know company's who do it as policy but I think its bad business because you invariably end up taking time away from trained and experienced productive staff who need to mentor/manage these interns.

    I think the true reason for the erosion of western earnings in our field is due to the massive opening up of the 'developing' world. I put it in quotation marks because frankly that's in rapid readjustment. As soon as the USD tanks, we'll see whose developed or not! Anyhow the point is that studios like virtuous in China have over 1000 employees and growing. My sister spent 2 years working in china she was earning 3 times what her equally qualified and skilled Chinese coworkers were getting. I'm sure that model is in place for all games and films studios out in China or Vietnam etc... There are hugely skilled people in these countries (and eastern Europe) who are willing to work for less than ourselves because the money they'd be getting is a GOOD wage for them even though its not a livable wage for us here in the west. The internet means that its an open bidding war especially in the freelance market and you're bidding against someone who lives in Cambodia and thinks he's a king of he gets 5 dollars a day. His work is as good as yours and yes he's cheaper and often works longer and harder than you will. He doesn't need 'free time'! I'm chinese, my family come from Malaysia. My grandmother simply doesn't understand free time. There's work and eating and sleeping! So company's are looking abroad for labour, whether thats the odd bit of freelance work or full on subcontracting and its just so easy to do that these days with digital work and the internet. Its been going on for years... I know people who work in EA UK who basically became outsourcing managers and just stopped doing artwork entirely.

    I think this is a far more compelling reason for wage erosion in the west, than people doing freelance for free or interns etc... Although in a local scenario that may well play a part. As I said, you still got to chose who you're prepared to intern for very carefully to ensure you don't get abused.

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    True, but in the end it matters little whether it's the local hopefuls or third-world cheap labor driving prices down, it's cheap labor that is driving them down.

    And in the end, it's the businesses trying to cut corners for short-term gain even if it undermines the long-term economy.

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    Since I've worked in places like LucasArts, Paramount and EA I can tell you the quickest way to be shown the door is be sticking your shit under everyone else's noses. Its probably why you won't ever get the chance, because people can smell that desperation a mile away and don't want to have anything to do with it.

    I've been painting since I was 15 and I have always been paid for what I do. Never give your work away, unless, like Arenhaus says, its for a nonprofit. If it is a for profit company they have to pay you something. When you are starting out that might not be much but it should be at least enough to pay for your time and materials. Anything less than that means you aren't ready to get paid for what you do. The answer is work harder until you are. Once you start to make money you keep working harder so you can get better jobs and more money until you become able to support yourself from just your art. You don't stop there though, you keep working harder so you can live a comfortable lifestyle and actually earn enough to have everything you want in life. Your ability is the outcome of your effort, you never give it away.

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    Hmmm. Well honestly dpaint, I think things have gotten tougher since you first started out. They certainly haven't gotten easier. I mean what you're saying makes perfect sense but I guess I wonder that sometimes excellent work isn't the whole story or not enough, and perhaps marketing has an big part to play in things. For example I look on deviant art and sometimes I see people with really not very good work, or generic work that they are obviously churning out but they have millions of views and probably make a decent living from commissions and whatnot, whilst I also see some really excellent people on here for example who have very little exposure. I think what you are saying is right for industry jobs... At least I hope so. If your work is amazing I'd like to think you'll get a gig eventually but to make it on your own...

    This goes back to our previous discussions about traditional art and being able to make living from it. I mean you are obviously doing okay from it, and that's informing your advice, but surely there's a limit to the possible patronage? I.e. when you go to these illuxcon shows are there reams and teams of people walking away going shucks I had a few hundred thousand to spend but gosh darn it everything I wanted was sold. I guess my question is where are we at on the supply vs demand balance right now? In industry jobs, the supply very definitely outweighs demand... Hence it being tougher to get a decent job.

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    The work alone must communicate to the buyer. It is easier than ever to be an artist now with free networks setup for anyone smart enough to exploit those available opportunities. There are no more gate keepers and for a fraction of the cost people can get their work seen by thousands of people. But being liked on DA or Behance is not the same as selling your art. You have a lot of assumptions in that statement about those people making money from their perceived popularity. someone living with their parents doing 20 dollar commissions isn't making it with their art IMO.

    I knew a person in the 90's before the internet took off who inherited a lot of money. They had always wanted to be a pro artist and had painted but weren't very good; they believed that with their newly acquired money they could buy their success. They took out ads every month in every major art magazine. They spent 100k a year on marketing and advertising for three straight years. They ended up losing everything. I remember talking to them towards the end and them still believing it wasn't about ability. Because they thought they were as good or better than pros that everyone would think that if they just showed their work to enough people. That type of amateur attitude is the most destructive kind there is to a persons career. When a person isn't good at something they can't know whats good, they only know what they like which isn't the same thing.

    At every level of price there are willing buyers. At illuxcon there are people working from a wide range of prices of a few dollars per piece to tens of thousands per piece, and selling in those ranges. The key is to be the best value and quality for the price in your range. When you offer something for sale the quality of your work needs to match its price or seem like a bargain for potential buyers.

    The supply versus demand I think is about the same as it always was. 90 percent of the people trying to get work or getting low paying jobs were always there, they are never going to get that good job unless they improve their skills, its just the internet wasn't around and so you didn't see them whining about it. There are now 10's of 1000's of game companies looking for creators compared to when I started their were only maybe 50. Teams when I started only had five or six artists that had to do everything including writing our own scripts in unix for 3d. Now the box does all that for people. Hell, most artists can't even draw or paint let alone program too. So I think its so much easier to work with very little skill needed compared to ten or twenty years ago and there are order of magnitude increases in ease of work, connectivity and availability of work. People just have to be good enough. Whats changed is price, with prices falling to lower than 20 years ago for the same work.

    The problem for people starting out is the tech allows them to fake competence they don't really have. I've said this over and over remove the tech and how good are you? If you're Feng Zhu you are still pretty damn good. Ask yourself this: if you took away Zbrush or Photoshop or 3d Studio Max how close would your work look without that software using traditional tools? If its 90% you can probably work as a pro if its less than 50% you probably won't unless you are just lucky. Even then you probably won't keep your job long because it will show in the production pipeline eventually.

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