Exposure and the Art of Exposing Yourself

Posted: July 1, 2017 in Thoughts on art ministry and life
Tags: , , , , , ,

Yeah, you know me better than that. This is not that kind of article, but it is an important discussion. If you’ve been in the arts for any length of time, you’ve no doubt been asked to do something for the exposure. If you’ve read almost any artist online you have no doubt read them making disparaging remarks about doing work for exposure. Personally, this writer is on the fence. I’ve done work for exposure a few times and the payoffs have been fairly negligible, still I can see some advantages to the right opportunity. Largely I believe those who have the money should pay artists for their services. The workman is, after all, worthy of his hire, and yet there are times where the inexperienced will have a hard time getting work without a strong portfolio and how do you get a strong portfolio without doing some real world stuff.
I do think I have a better idea all the way around. Expose yourself.

Here’s what I mean. Find the work that you want to do. Find projects that excite you and you make the offer. or better yet, create on spec and see what the people think. Find a cause you believe in and see if you can design something for them, then take the work and show it to them. Remember you did this on spec, so they are under no obligation to you. You might be able to negotiate a deal, but even if you don’t you’ll get the experience of doing the work and have a nice portfolio piece. Secondly, if you’re doing things for exposure, do the kinds of work you want to do. Do things that will allow you to pitch to people you’d love to work for or with. Thirdly, remember there are vast avenues to self publish these days. You can do everything from T-shirts to art prints to book publishing. Why not pursue some of these endeavors? You might even sell a few pieces.

The point of this article is there is a world full of people who would love to take advantage of you and get things from you for free. Most of them have no business asking anyone to do anything “for exposure.” Unless it will clearly benefit your career and load your portfolio, the best answer to these people is a polite no. Don’t “rip into them” because if they liked your work enough to ask for it, they might eventually decide to buy from you. You’re far better off “exposing yourself” by doing the work you want to do anyway and sharing that with the world. At the very least you’ll load your portfolio, but even better you might land a dream job.

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