Rightly so, the relationship between creatives and clients is on a knife’s edge when it comes to money. Clients always want the creation that matches their vision. What clients don’t always want is to have to hand over cash for that vision to be created.
I get it, I really do. I hate having to pay the auto mechanic to make my car run the way I want. That said, if I don’t pay the mechanic to fix the car I have two more options: research the problem so I can buy the tools and fix the car myself, or hope the car magically fixes itself. Clients of creatives, however, have convinced themselves that there’s a fourth option in the process of getting what they want – exposure credit.
Exposure credit is used as a loophole in which a client with actual sway can convince their creatives to labor like slaves for free on hours of detailed work; work which the creatives studied diligently to master; work which requires special tools to accomplish.
All of this the creative does for free. Why? Well somewhere along the line someone convinced that creative that they were making something out of nothing and that the “nothing” cost them nothing and was therefore valued monetarily at nothing. They were told that the best they could get was their name in the paper, a fleeting second of recognition, a pat on the back. Some creatives are self critical, self doubting, self loathing even. They really do need a pat on the back. That recognition does feel nice. So, the clients used this social need to obscure the truth that the creative was being manipulated. The pattern was set. The client now had an amazing creation and made bundles on the consumer’s monetary recognition, while the creative got a pat on the back and a request for more labor.
This is the pattern. This is what happens. This should not be the pattern. This should not be what happens.
I urge any creative out there to take an honest look at the value of their work to the consumer and have that financial discussion with any client that seeks to acquire a new creation.
That said, I do creative favors for respectful friends. Just know, friend, that I stack favors like the Godfather when the time comes.