Fame Day: For Exposure

There are a number of Twitter pages I could have focused on today, from the subtly hilarious to the judiciously-minded, but none of those address a pretty hefty issue a lot of us young people find ourselves bumping into.

The page For Exposure, by comic artist and generally all-around cool guy Ryan Estrada, does.

As a person who is looking for a career in both/either writing and/or editing I have been coming across an issue that also plagues many other would-be artists. It’s not so much that people don’t want to hire us, it’s that they would rather not pay us.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate. As the page’s title would indicate, these “employers” are happy to compensate us with a little something called “exposure.” Estrada finds the job listings that promise this and presents them for your perusal. Below are some of my favourites, though that might not be quite the word I’m looking for:

I fully understand the need to build up a portfolio, and I’ve done a few freelance gigs that are unpaid. That being said, these did not take very long, and having an article published in a national publication is nothing to take lightly. And I would never consider that to be a job.

The problem here is multiple people expecting professional work to be done for absolutely nothing in return. This can be anything from creating a business logo, to taking wedding photographs, to writing copy for a website. Yes, all of these will be seen by others, but that won’t pay the bills. If you want to be seen as a professional you should expect to be treated like one.

As an artist who worked hard to get where he is today, Estrada uses this Twitter page to reveal these listings for what they really are: people trying to take advantage of us. We are young, and out of school, and desperate for work, and they know that.

And the thing is, as long as people are willing to fall for these listings and do something for nothing, this will never stop. The internet will continue to feature postings that offer the first step your career, but no one knows where to find the second.

I’m not saying never do work for free. I’ve done it, and others have and it has gotten them places. That being said, take a note from Estrada’s book and be wary. If you have specialized skills that can’t be done by just anyone that’s gotta be worth something.

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