Top 10 Lies told to Beginning Artists, Designers, & Illustrators…

Mark W. Lewis has written a great article on the Top 10 Lies told to Beginning Artists and Designers. I think I’ve heard a variation of every single one. Below is the list… be sure to visit his original article where he goes into more detail on each item.

  1. “Do this one cheap (or free) and we’ll make it up on the next one.”
  2. “We never pay a cent until we see the final product.”
  3. “Do this for us and you’ll get great exposure! The jobs will just pour in!”
  4. On looking at sketches or concepts: “Well, we aren’t sure if we want to use you yet, but leave your material here so I can talk to my partner/investor/wife/clergy.”
  5. “Well, the job isn’t CANCELLED, just delayed. Keep the account open and we’ll continue in a month or two.”
  6. “Contract? We don’t need no stinking contact! Aren’t we friends?”
  7. “Send me a bill after the work goes to press.”
  8. “The last guy did it for XXX dollars.”
  9. “Our budget is XXX dollars, firm.
  10. “We are having financial problems. Give us the work, we’ll make some money and then we’ll pay you.”


All of the above are huge red flags so if you experience any or all, don’t walk away…. RUN.

Thanks Mark.

36 Replies to “Top 10 Lies told to Beginning Artists, Designers, & Illustrators…”

  1. I herd a couple of these.
    And in a somewhat related comment, clients see a “rush fee” and balk at it because they call at 9 o’clock at night and ask if I can have a ad ready by the morning because they forgot the deadline.

  2. Yeah I hear these quite regularly. My boss says it to many of our clients and it worries me that we will get a bad reputation.

  3. number 9 shouldn’t be in here. most magazines have a set rate based on page size that they aren’t going to deviate from no matter who you are. they are just being straight up about it and that’s fine. what’s bullshit is when they know their budget and try to get you to quote a price in the hopes that it will be less (ie. lowball yourself). I much prefer the straight up approach.

  4. I work for a company that does graphics for bud/coke/miller/pepsi/heineken.What I have to believe is that they are picky as hell until you are on a deadline(which is always,hence rush orders).I work with 2 UVR printers,and quality is not there best suit.It amazes me that they spend so much money on “redos”,even though they know that we can’t match “spot” colors.Anyway,they have money to waste.I have to give it to them they are usually very good at there art files.Just my 2 cents

  5. Thanks for the warnings. Another might be: “We’re not sure if we’re going to use you yet, but can you send us the source files from your concepts?”

  6. Add to the list: Our hiring process is for you to do such and such project. We’ll pay you this dirt cheap rate, and whatever submission we receive that we prefer will be hired on as a full time member of our staff!

  7. I learned my lesson after the first time. Now I have way more confidence and tell them whats up….and they pay me more :D

  8. I hate to feed into this, but I’d say I hear one of these every 4th quote request or so. It’s a shame and it’s really doing all designers a disservice. We work very hard like everyone else.

  9. when i started my career as a designer, i did some free work, for a free clinic and an environmental agency, and i got to say the exposure worked like magic for my future, so, i think when you’re starting the exposure is something you can consider, especially if its you’re doing something to contribute to society.

  10. Wow… I was looking at that list going “crap…crap… CRAP!” So that’s how I ended up in that mess… I missed the red flags!

    My favorite is when I’ve had people tell me that they’ll do the mock-up, but I can still “design” the site, but they just won’t pay full price for it.

  11. Just some words of advice from the other side, grow some balls, tell us what you expect, we rely on your work to accomplish marketing goals, give us quality design that meets or exceeds expectations and we will use you again (or better yet collaborate with us and reap the benefits). Use Spell Check, I know that is a difficult concept for some Mac users but I have sent designs back more time for incorrect spelling then anything else. If you want to get paid and avoid being ripped off watermark your creative until you have payment. It is simple.

  12. I was hired by ESPN to do several freelance jobs. They were over a month late on paying me the first time. For the second job I demanded a contract with a specific payment after delivery date. When they breached the contract I emailed the project manager repeated with no luck. Finally I emailed the legal department and was paid immediately.

    I was never hired again.

  13. You should always set you own price for any work. If they want it for what someone else did it for have them get it from that someone else. Also waiting to after the job to be paid is a horrible mistake.

  14. Hiya, i have seen your site when searching a few weeks ago and i really love the design! I just bought a new 3 character domain (cost me a packet) for a niche review blog, and i was wondering if your design is a free or paid one? I’m new to WordPress and about to set it up, and i would really like to get something with a similar look to yours. Any ideas where i could download or buy something similar? Thanks for your help! :)

  15. My brother-in-law is a painter and he is completely paranoid of others stealing his art concepts. The lack of professionalism in the art world is outrageous. Watch your back designers / artists, because if you’re good you have a cross-hair aimed at your back…

  16. I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.

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