15.10.16 by Staff

Illustrations of the People Who Want You to Work For Free


“For Exposure” is a series of illustrations by Toronto’s Emmie Tsumura based on tweets from @forexposure_txt, a twitter account that compiles quotes from real people seeking free work from artists.

Commissioned by Format Magazine, the hilarious project puts imagined faces to some all-too-real requests. Check out more images below!
































Format Magazine’s Website

Emmie Tsumura on Twitter

For Exposure on Twitter


If you have work to share, please send us a tweet or post it to our monthly submission posts.

  • Alberto H.

    That reminds me this add in a “successful Ottawa Contractor company”
    “…will have the opportunity to expand their skills in photography, explore interior design and other areas of interest within the company, and further develop and diversify their portfolios of work.”

    “If you are confident that you fulfill the requirements for this position and want to join our team of fun, passionate and hardworking young professionals…”

    ..” this is an unpaid job. Successful candidates may have the opportunity for future employment however there is no guarantee..”

    • ads like this are everywhere!

    • Mr Fun

      ‘Professionals’ who work for free. Of course!

  • michaeljpatrick

    If the exposure from your project is high enough that it’s as good as money then you are successful enough to pay.
    If it isn’t then you aren’t successful enough to promise exposure.

    • perfectly put

    • Brilliant – I may need to copy and paste this as a response to the emails I get each week!

    • Kundan Chhabra

      Yeah. The thing is: even Oprah didn’t pay her artists, the live dancers for her tour. And she got under fire for it and still didn’t pay them. It doesn’t make it right of course. Artists need to get paid.

      • Pretty sure you’re both saying the same thing, just in different ways. He was just making a point that if you can’t pay a worker, then you’re clearly not a big enough success to give them any sort of popularity.

      • kanuut

        Only time it’s alright to not get paid/pay (I’ve been on both ends) is when it’s volunteer or the offer/advertisement has stated that it’s non paying (like community events some bands near me play at, they do actually do it “for exposure” but they sign up to play with the words “not for pay” directly ab2the phone number)

    • Zach Stevenson

      That’s a genius reply!

    • budkin


    • archana

      Thank you for this!

    • Wow, love this useful insight, from Michael.
      It directly answers one of logomyth’s comments by Peter Butler (Branding & Marketing designer, Urban Creatives):
      “I’ve had many people approach me with the whole ‘if you create my logo or brand identity, I cannot pay but I promise I will give you exposure…’”

      I will surely feature both of you guys (because Michael’s comment directly (and coincidentally) answers Peter’s worry).

      Thanks Michael.
      (Michael, please you can check logomyth’s post at 1:30 am on Twitter & Instagram @logomyth)

  • Cori Redford

    “Can you make that exposure out directly to my landlord?”

  • This had me laughing out loud! Brilliant.
    Especially the guy who mentions YouTube – I can picture him perfectly haha.


    • Kimi

      That’s my favourite one

  • Great article, loved the illustrations!

    I cannot count the amount of times I’ve been told I charge too much for digital work because it’s not valuable like traditional mediums. It’s a shame people are so ignorant about how much time and effort goes into digital formats, but nothing will ever change. :’D

    • Evilyne

      Also paint and canvas costs money, but computers and software are free right?

      • Actually, computers are “free-ish”, the same way that digital cameras are “free-ish”. You need to buy a new canvas and use non-reusable paint every time you make a new traditional painting, whereas with a computer or a digital camera you just need the first investment.

        Most people have a computer at home for other purposes, so they wouldn’t understand this argument: “I already have a maxed-out computer to play WhateverGameWithZombiesInIt, I can use that to draw too so it’s not a new expense and that’s valid for you as well”.

      • Karen

        But you can’t draw pictures in microsoft word, or even microsoft paint. Those art and illustrating programs (and tablets to use a digital pen) are neither cheap nor free.. Photoshop is a few grand, even the basic elements program is over $100, you need the right gear to get the right finish.(that’s why they aren’t doing it themselves). Time is also not free or unlimited no matter how you try to spin that.

      • Photoshop is not a few grand. Myself I pay 12 bucks a month for Photoshop & lightroom and another 20 for Illustrator.

        Apart from that, I know time is not free nor unlimited. I know too that because I work with Photoshop and Illustrator for a living, and I know how time-consuming it is. But I remember being younger and living with my parents and working from home, and my sweet old dad telling me I should stop playing games and look for a job. See, we know it’s work. For most of them is just something we like to do and we don’t deserve get paid for dicking around in computers.

        It’s our job to teach them the opposite.

  • Animation_Director

    “You must do it be because you love it and not for the money”

    Yeah, ok, here’s the deal. I do my own personal projects for the “love” of the art. I do client work for “the money”. I provide a service, you pay me for it, it’s how I make a living.

    If I wanted to do something for free I’d just work on my own projects where I have 100% creative control instead of working on your cruddy web show where you give me a 20 page list of notes on the color of your character’s shoes.

  • Marcos Ruiz

    But it is a Banner for the church. God will repay you in blessings…

    • kanuut

      Couldn’t they get someone from the church to do it? Obviously people who goto church are going to value the blessings more won’t they?

  • Excellent! It’s crazy to see how far are some people from the reality. I thought that in 2016, things like this would not exist… But you always have some crazy who tried to exploit you for free… *sigh*

    • Dracona

      Unfortunately, there’s a lot more than “a few”

    • johnnyboyjohn

      The midwest U.S is a vast wasteland of uneducated, ignorant business owners who want to pay nothing for their corporate identity – while at the same time (on some level) realize that it’s their face to the world at large and is pretty important. A giant cognitive dissonance happening with people who have degrees, make more than 100K a year, etc… it is rather sad. They want to make top dollar, but seemingly don’t want other professionals to make a dime. The “me” generation and their children…

  • Cassy Casandra Evelyn

    “Money hunger” you mean real, actual hunger, because food is not free?

  • Jet_pack

    I wish you could click through on their faces to get to their Twitter accounts

  • Michael Pullmann

    Like the guy saving for the trip to Japan isn’t white as the new-fallen snow.

  • SuZieCoyote

    Just say no. Really simple. If they keep it up, say no again. “I don’t work for free.”

    • johnnyboyjohn

      If EVERY graphic designer would say no, this wouldn’t happen. The problem is, some say yes and then we all get a reputation for working for cheap/free.

  • Tomspy77

    Pretty much my writing right here…

  • Mh, I never say it did. Of course, I understand that because I’m an artist of sorts myself (Photographer, graphic designer and writer)… but do THEY understand that? It’s one of our jobs, teaching them this.

  • tomjones

    3/4 of my clients are non-profits and they all want “discounted service”. I explain that my prices are already reasonable and there’s no reason to go any lower. On top of that, as long time cients, I don’t charge rush fees. I even came in last Sunday to finalize approval on a print job client needed by Thursday at no additional expense. Had a woman about a month ago wanted a logo, website and brochure “professionally” designed. I offered her a package price (prepaid) of $1,250 (two rounds of comps on logo and brochure and she gets to pick one of our free WP templates) for the entire project and said we would have everything done in two weeks. She got all pissy and said she would give me $750 and I had to have everything designed and uploaded/printed by the end of the week.

    If I wanted exposure, I would take up streaking.

  • scrim

    ironically these illustrations were probably done for free and are being used by this blog to make them money…

  • Here’s some snappy comebacks from an article on such problems…

    • When they say: “I don’t have any money now but we’ll all make money in the future!”

    You reply: “I hope it’s by December 21st of this year because the world is going to end and money and websites won’t stop the searing pain of death we’ll all feel!”

    • When they say: “If you do this for free now, I’ll consider you my in-house designer later!”

    You reply: “But will you consider me something even more special?” (wink and blow a kiss).

    • When they say: “I can get an art student to do this for free!”

    You reply: “Well, if they were like me in art school, better catch them between tokes on the crack pipe!”

    • When they say: “This will be a great opportunity for you to gain a terrific portfolio piece!”

    You reply: “I was actually hoping for a great sexual opportunity!”

    • When they say: “If my clients like your design, I’ll throw some money your way.”

    You reply: “Great! I hope it’s enough to buy some of my anti-psychotic meds because I need them soon… REALLY soon!” (start to twitch).

    • When they say: “I’ll pay you, depending on the quality of the finished project.”

    You reply: “And if it’s bad quality, do I get a special naughty-boy/girl spanking?” (then breath heavily).

    • When they say: “I have lots of rich friends and they’ll see your design and want you to work for them!”

    You reply: As a sex slave, I hope!”

    • When they say: “I’m your uncle’s friend. Don’t I get the family rate?”

    You reply: As long as you’re not a registered sexual offender, too!”


    • Katblu

      Hmmmm….you seem to have a sexual obsession….

  • YAY! Exposure RICH!

  • Holly Sterling

    This is brilliant! I shared it with my design students at TXState. I’m the Internship Coordinator and I get this…completely…

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