Obama asking artists to work for free to support jobs

From the Daily Caller:

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is asking artists to design promotional posters that convey a message: “support American jobs.” The brutal irony for artists, however, is that they will receive no payment for their work.

The campaign, which has $61 million on hand, will reward only the three artists whose work is selected for use. The compensation? A copy of their artwork, signed by the president.

Read the full request campaign here.

The Graphic Artists Guild has responded with an open letter:

Yes, the prize for the winning artists’ work is a print of his/her own work signed by the President; not payment for the job he/she did. In actuality, this “prize” has no value to the artist unless he/she sells it, at which point the artist no longer owns the “prize” awarded to him/her by the “Sponsor.” The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing & Ethical Guidelines cites the current rate for the design of a poster for this type of distribution to be approximately $4,000 and upwards.

How obvious is this irony: A crowdsourced contest soliciting free work (spec work) from American artists for the purpose of promoting legislation to create jobs.

On a related note, the request for spec work is growing. Ted Rall noted that he was recently solicited by the American Cancer Society to create “three or more different QuitBuddy personas that individuals can choose from to act as their inspiration to quit smoking.” The work would be uncompensated.

Ted responded politely (full letter is available on his blog), but I loved this line:

According to information I found online, your budget is $350 million per annum. Surely an appropriate fee ($10,000, or 0.003% of your budget) is affordable for a company that spends $914,906 per year on its CEO.

26 thoughts on “Obama asking artists to work for free to support jobs

  1. And if you throw a rock, chances are you’ll hit a person who has a great idea for a childrens book who just needs somebody to draw it for them. You’ll get paid when the book deal goes through.

  2. The three who are selected just get a poster signed by Obama? 61 million bucks is a lot of money. The Prez can’t pass along any of it to the top three? I guess he thinks his signature is worth more tan real money. Now if he wants to sign a blank check instead, maybe I am in….

  3. Wow, even the President takes artists for granted…it makes me sad that he’s pulling the whole ‘you love what you do so you should do it for free’ thing here

  4. I’ve heard the banks are taking Obama’s autograph in lieu of mortgage payments. Maybe if I broke out his autograph into individual letters, I could pay a couple other expenses with it as well!

  5. Actaully,
    I bet the POTUS isn’t even aware of this and won’t be until he’s asked to sign the three posters.

  6. Well, I tweeted a link to this article along with a nice message telling @whitehouse “Stuff it. Artists get paid.”

    So now Obama STILL doesn’t know about it, because no way is that account getting monitored for anything short of attn-Secret-Service content.

  7. No dollars and no change for your work… once again, that “cahnge” Obama’s always talked about is about no dollars in your pocket and no change for real…

  8. Man. On top of all the other people they’ve let down or belittled, now Obama’s people are doing it to artists. Jeez. The administration has been the nail in the coffin for me. Our system is hopelessly broken and I have officially lost faith in the current system ever doing anything meaningful to right the wrongs we’re facing.

  9. You guys should read the comments under the Rollingstone article on this. I’ll sum up:

    “Shut, up artists. Derp. Get a danged real job like construction werk.”

  10. This is just awful! I’d actually been thinking over the last few months how great it would be for Obama to replicate the New Deal’s WPA and actually hire artists to do things like this.

    But this request, for artists to work for free AND give up rights to their work is the absolutely worst precedent to set. It’s like a Bizarro-world New Deal!

    I’m really disappointed to the point of illness.

    Just posted this on the contest website:

    Dear President Obama:
    As a professional artist I have to say I am shocked and disappointed at the poster contest you are sponsoring, asking artists to submit work and sign over all rights for free. The fact that it is to promote a “jobs program” only makes it more tone-deaf and disheartening.

    It is not just the poor timing, in the midst of a terrible economic climate. This would be a poor idea anytime. Artists, like any other professional group, do what they do for payment. It’s called “making a living”.

    I voted for you but I must say, on top of all the previous disappointments with this administration, this is the final nail in the coffin. I would say that the callous intent behind this program leaves me speechless, but believe me I am doing everything I can to encourage my fellow artists to boycott this “contest”.

    With great disappointment,
    Gerard Mooney

  12. I hope and pray everybody here and a lot more do what Lester and Beeler have already drawn…..and then enter them in the contest. YES- I’ll be entering…!

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