Warning Signs for Young Illustrators and Designers In Want-Ads

So you’ve decided to go out and try to get some freelance work by checking out ads on Craigslist. Despite what some will say, it is a great source for potential clients, but there are, like always, problems.

There are red flags you should look out for whenever you’re checking out an ad, and other things you should check out for that a potential client may simply say. They indicate everything from not knowing what they’re doing, to not having any money, and in some cases even verbally and emotionally abusive.

1. I’m looking for an art college student or beginning artist.

Translation: I want someone who doesn’t really know what the hell they’re doing.

Why? The reasons tend to be either they don’t have a budget that’s appropriate for what they want to do, or they want to take advantage of someone who has talent but doesn’t know what they’re doing. Getting a college student means they can easily get someone who wants the job mostly for experience, exposure, or even Ramen Noodles. Getting an artist who’s just starting out means they can get someone cheap who doesn’t know what they’re work is worth.

2. I don’t have a lot of cash, but I’ve got connections!

Translation: I want it cheap, and my connections aren’t all that great.

When it comes to people who say they have “connections”, I’m skeptical. I’ve met people who have said everything from “I work for MTV” to “I’m big in the art world” to everything in-between. These people were all telling the truth, but connections aren’t always what they seem and tend to be a 50/50 thing. Sometimes they wind up being great. I know I had one client that wound up leading to a ton of work later down the line and he was a good friend. I’ve also had some that wound up being a dead-end, and that tends to be the case more than you want. So if someone has connections… just ask and try to find out more on your own.

3. This is ideal for an artist who wants to gain exposure!

Translation: We REALLY want it cheap, and we hope we’ll get lucky showing it off to people!

Seriously, that’s all it it. Unless it’s Rolling Stone magazine or someone huge, exposure doesn’t tend to mean much. Then again, you never know. I was contacted by Rolling Stone to use one of my photos, and while that didn’t lead to a ton of exposure, it did boost my self confidence and I started to do more and more photography. Exposure should only be considered IF you know it has a legitimate chance.

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