As an Illustrator, I really love to draw; in fact, I draw quite frequently, from a couple of basic sketches to several drawings a day, even if most of those drawings are never shown publicly. My mind is constantly thinking of what to draw next and some of these ideas are inspiring enough to make me take out my sketchbook and doodle on it; these could be a simple illustration or a sketch of a design I must work on, like an ad or a logo. But none of these drawings are precisely for free, because I take some time in working on them, from the idea itself to the finished image. But hey, it just took some time, that didn’t cost any cash, did they?
Why don’t Illustrators like doing free drawings?
The answer is very simple: they take time that they could spend in anything else, that could go from taking a break to spending time working on a much bigger project. Most of us make a living from drawing. Yes, that’s a profession for many of us, and a hobby for a few others. We spent years (and yes, I mean it) in learning how to use a wide variety of tools and techniques in order to achieve our goals as Illustrators, that involves making a living from drawing.
Just like any other professional, we charge for our work. We don’t like to draw for free because doing that would be spending our time and energy in something that only benefits the person that receives the finished product. How about exposure currency? Exposure only works for one thing: people know who made it; exposure doesn’t make an income; and exposure is not a valid currency in Wal-Mart, you know?
But drawing for yourself doesn’t make you earn money…
In the short term, no; in the long term, it does. Drawing for ourselves (e.g. personal projects and the like) are different from commissions because we use these illustrations strategically to draw attention to ourselves (yes, exposure) and eventually some people decide to buy something from us.
There are two key words here: strategy and decision. A proper strategy led you to decide you want to get a drawing from the Illustrators you like. Mixing that exposure to a strategy and a goal, results in advertising. Working in illustrations for ourselves is not just exposure, is advertising. No one will do it for us and we need advertising to get an income.
Does this mean you will never accept requests?
Sometimes I’m open to work on some free drawings. Why? Because I consider it as a free sample of my product; but I can only do it when I know I can spend some time on them.
These free drawings work two ways: people have access to my products for free and I can step out of my comfort zone a little, resulting in improvement. Both parties win something. But this can only happen once in a while, when I know I have time to spend on free drawings, instead of sitting here waiting for my next task in my agenda.
To summarise: As a professional Illustrator and Graphic Designer, I make a living from drawing, and working for free (or exposure) is not making a living at all. I can offer free drawings but only when I know I can work on them, in any other circumstances, your request might be considered a commission. I usually offer these free drawings via Twitter, so please follow me there to know when I’m open for free drawings; and I will also announce free drawings raffles via this website, Facebook and Twitter.
For more information about either commissions or free drawings, you can contact me via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail; and I will gladly answer your questions. Thank you!