Should I work for free?

Short answer: no. For something other than money? Sometimes.


Believe it or not, even after 25 years into my career, I still get asked to work for free. If you do a bit of reading around the internet, it seems that this isn’t terribly uncommon in graphic design, but it is still a little shocking. While I do sometimes work for free or nearly free, it is rarely because I am asked and always for my reasons and on my terms.

While most reasonable people are understanding when I decline working for free, others react as if I suggested kicking a kitten. Twice I have been met with outrage. Once I was threatened. All for declining to work without compensation. Crazy, right?

The basic premise is this: work has value. If work didn’t have value, you wouldn’t ask for it. If you would like my work, design, as a value to be added to your project, there should be some return on that value. Usually that return is money but there can be other returns.

Aspects for consideration: