Years ago when I was starting out, I was approached by an editor who wanted to include a poster series I created in an upcoming publication he was overseeing. At the time, I was ecstatic. Getting to see my work in print for a potential world-wide audience was (and still is) a big deal and the book itself—a higher end coffee table tome featuring artwork by several well-known figures in the industry—seemed a prestige piece that could only enhance my portfolio and professional reputation. High on the possibility of exposure it could entail, I naively agreed to remuneration of just one copy of the book.

I never received a copy of the book.

After attempting to contact the editor numerous times, I instead shelled out sixty dollars (plus shipping and handling) to add it to my library myself. It led to virtually no further work. No art directors were ringing me up. Its milestone in my career was instead a two-fold lesson learned:

1) compared to the other pieces included, there was no doubt I was still a junior in the industry. I needed to cultivate my style and personal brand.

2) exposure means shit. My work, and time, were still deserving of being compensated fairly.

I recently came across a very similar situation to mine after reading reviews for a book I wanted to order:

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The review continues with more evidence that the book was put together by someone who did not value (or properly acknowledge and compensate) the contributions of the people who actually created the content. Needless to say, I immediately took it off my WishList.

I think about this practice often in the new era of “content creation” and how creative professionals have ever more enticing carrots dangled in front of them, all for the possibility of something which may not be defined and often doesn’t come into fruition anyway. It’s a situation ripe for exploitation. People are being conditioned to work for less and to settle for it. The promise of exposure and all it entails, such as new followers, is certainly a form of clout … but the best clout to receive in business is still financial.

Writers, photographers, designers and other artists deserve to be shown the money.