Working In The Creative Industry Has A Price

Published on:

Are you a creative industry professional who wants to find a job in your field and actually to get paid for it? Just be careful because these days lots of companies are just offering "experience".

A few months ago I came across this video. One of many realized by creative collective Zero on the same subject, the clip presents an improbable situation in which some pretentious employer diplomatically refuses to pay his gardener.


“I can be honest with you, there is no budget for this project. But I still give you the chance to work, right? This is an occasion for you […].
You wanna be a gardener, right? Isn’t this your dream, after all?
Then remember, son: to make your dream come true, you have to make sacrifices.”


Many young freelancers in the creative industry may find these words familiar. In fact, they are not uncommon in the field, spoken by so-called employers, used together with other formulas such as “it will look great on your CV” and “it’s a chance to gain experience”. Either way, the meaning is one: you won’t see a cent.

The irony of the viral video by Zero collective is evident due to the situation unlikely to occur, such as not paying a gardener, a plumber or an electrician. The title explains itself with a rhetorical question: “Would you say it to you gardener?”. You probably wouldn’t; but how many young (and older) creatives have to collect working experiences as if the employers were doing them a favor?

In an era where the Web is undisputed ruler and features like content and visuals are what it feeds on, the creative industry has never been more important. However, competition is high, and many neo graduates and artists in the field are having a hard time finding fulfilling or even related bills-paying employment.
Many find themselves in the vicious circle of freelancing, where competition is even higher and its obvious consequences are low pay rates or, very often, work for free.

Sure, working one’s way up to the top is an important stage of everyone’s career. However, this doesn’t have to mean being taken advantage of. Working for free for a new, young company in a similar precarious situation is one thing; being taken for granted by some established employer who believes he is doing the freelancer a favor is another.

It is unclear why most employers do not see creatives as common workers, with bills to pay and the will of making a job out of a passion.
If you happen to have any friend playing in a band, you have probably seen them entertaining listeners for free, because the owner of the hosting bar offered them “the opportunity to make a name for themselves”. If one of your friends is a designer, he has probably been refused a payment for something that the employer “could have actually done by himself”.

“Does he sound like a j*rk?”, you read at the end of the video, just before a prompt reminder: “we may be young, not idiots”.



Sharing is caring, so please share this post. Thank you!