My husband brought this article to my attention today, about how Google has been asking artists to create skins for them for free. The reward to the artist, naturally, is “exposure”, that insipid internet currency.
I am familiar with this sort of scenario, not with my art work, but rather with travel writing. Ever since I started my other blog several years ago, I have been asked to provide my writing to various websites in exchange for “exposure” more times than I can count. My reactions to these requests have ranged from cheerful acceptance to indignant refusal. These days I usually just ignore them entirely.
So why the varied reactions? I’ve found it hard to come up with a blanket policy to determine how I handle such requests. Whether or not it is in my best interest to provide my writing for free depends on several factors. For example:
Now, back to the art/Google scenario at hand. Would I jump on such an opportunity? Probably, given where I am in my art career right now. Perhaps it would leave a bad taste in my mouth that a large, profitable company was asking me to work for free, but in the end I would probably stand to gain from the scenario overall. But Google is not asking me; it is asking much more well-established artists. Artists who are well-known in their fields, who already have loads of exposure for their work. For them, Google exposure would not necessarily be a benefit. In fact, as the article mentioned, artists agreeing to work for free for a giant, profitable company such as Google could set a “dangerous precedent”, one that would harm artists overall. It makes perfect sense to me that so many are turning Google down.
If Google asked you to provide artwork to them for free, would you do it?