Friday, 6 July 2012

Should Designers Work For Free?

As a designer trying to get business in a difficult economic environment I thought being involved with a high-status project would benefit me by association. This is why I did it for free. If I'd imagined that one of the admins would one day excise my contributions so he could claim all the credit for himself, I would have refused. This is what happened.


One of the first considerations to make when choosing whether or not to work for free is how well it's going to benefit you. If they remove your credit from the work and it's on your portfolio, there's a chance that people will check it and call you a liar for claiming that you did the work when there's no way of proving that you did it. That's why I'm so angry about the TEDxSalford situation.


The underhand way in which the deed was done and the dismissive response I got when I complained has led to a dispute with TEDxSalford, since it's the only way I can get enough pressure put on Vlad Jiman to put my credit back. If I'd imagined for a moment that he would remove my credit so he could claim the work as his own, I'd never have done it. Only a fool works for free when they can't even claim any credit for it. As far as I'm concerned, this is fraud if it was intended, from the beginning, to use me up and throw me away.


Timeline


In September last year, Mishal Saeed contacted me to ask for my help in sorting out the website. She explained that I would not be paid but that I would be listed as a sponsor. I agreed, explaining that having my credit at the foot of the page would help my business by associating me with the work.


She's the main admin and since she hasn't responded to my emails, though she's usually very good about this, she's probably completely unaware. It's been two days since I sent the emails to her. The event was in January.


I found out about my credit having been removed when a new client pointed out the fact that my name was not in the credits at the foot of the page. I tagged Vlad on Facebook with this picture:


TEDxSalford-vlad


He responded an hour or so later in a Facebook chat, but his attitude was so dismissive I'm sending it viral. This is the screenshot posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. It's going on Reddit, AKA Viral Central in a minute:


FB conversation with VladClick to enlarge


I make my living from the internet. I defend the internet through my activism with the Internet Freedom Movement and I trust that the internet will help me with this. I can't afford to launch a lawsuit and all I want is for my credit to go back on the site. He can have his there, too. I've never disputed that. I just want proof that I helped to build it for my portfolio. Why is that too much to ask?


Update:


The footer credit is now for TEDxSalford but the link goes to Vlad's email address. To be fair he did a lot of the work on the website, even when my work was still on it.


I've got no legal grounds to complain because there was no agreement to keep all my work on the site. With all my contributions removed, there's no reason to credit me. On the various social media websites where I have complained the consensus is, "Wow, that's nasty, but you might as well take this as a lesson learned and move on."


They're right. I'll make the necessary changes to my portfolio. Lesson learned: don't work for free, not even for a prestige project. As one commenter said, "Respect is proportionate to their investment in you." Since I did it for free, no money has been "wasted" by removing all the work I did. I'm annoyed at what I perceive to be complete contempt for a sucker, but it's their site and they can do what they like with it. I'm moving on. And please don't even THINK about asking me to work for free. The answer is no.

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