I write this to not spark a debate or judgement, only to share my personal opinion and experience in hopes of benefiting you and offering insight to people thinking about hiring an artist.
Things you should never ask an Artist to do:
1. Free Work.
Do I really have to explain this one?
You wouldn't walk into any other business offering a service and ask for free clothes or a burger right? No, you pay for them without question and they take a lot less creativity, time to make and cost a lot less. Why ask people to work for free on something you couldn't make yourself? If you believe in your vision, then I suggest find funding for it to pay the people doing the work for you. This goes for family as well, don't get me wrong, I love my family and enjoy doing something for them but it means so much more when I OFFER to do something for free than when it's expected. Let the artist decide whether or not they want to give their time for free without asking them, as a rule treat them with respect as you would a business and be prepared to pay.
2. Mimic another Artist's style.
Maybe there are a lot of people on the fence on this one but for me and from an artist's perspective it takes a while to develop our own style and look. We spend hours every day perfecting it, and it's an ongoing process, so why would we want to paint like someone else?? If you see an artist and like their work but it doesn't fit your style you're looking for, move on and find the right one. It's taken this long for me to figure out my own, why would I want to mimic someone else?
3. Fast Work.
We're all entitled to our own opinion on this but if you look at the mere logistics, is anything rushed of good quality? Would you rather have 10 flawed pieces that are knocked out in a short amount of time or 10 quality pieces that will pay off in the long run. Art is what we do, it's who we are...don't ask us to compromise the very thing that defines us.
4. Read Minds.
I've run into this quite a bit and the result is usually me redrawing something 10 different times before the client says "yeah that's it!". I realize it's challenging for some to communicate what's in their mind on paper, heck I run into the same thing, but there is one word that will remedy that very thing. References. Some of the best jobs I've done are people who use pictures, artwork samples, perspective shots, textures..you name it, anything to get their idea across. I don't care if you have to buy little action figures put them in a pose and use a digital camera to get the perspective you like, to me that's awesome.
The more details and visuals you have on your idea makes it easier for the artist to conceptualize and execute it more effectively. Saves time and money for both sides.
5. Lower their rates.
To me this is in the same vein as asking for free work and borders the boundaries of compromise. There are some things you haggle in this life and some things you don't. If you're at a garage sale looking at an old toy with some damage here and there, haggle a way. A uniquely designed and original piece of work that takes weeks or months to complete, you do not.
I wish people would realize that an idea is only an idea but artwork solidifies it and plays a big part in the profit and popularity. Take care of the ones making your idea come to life that's bringing prosperity, it's an honorable thing to do.
6. Work for recognition.
As long as I have been an artist, I have never EVER had exposure pay my bills. Sure exposure is necessary, but there are a ton of different ways to market your own work on your own time without giving someone who doesn't appreciate the value of art a free ride. We pay our way in this life, they should too.
7. Can I pay you when the project starts to make a profit?
I have spent so much time and invested my own money based on an dream that belongs to someone else. I have yet to see a profit from these projects and it just leaves me with a "What the hell was I thinking?". Granted there have been some projects with some awesome people working on an idea I believed in as well and wanted to offer my time but again that was me offering my time as a gift.
I encourage you to look at it this way, what does the guy at the helm have anything to lose? You're the one doing all the work and not getting paid, he's the one coming up with the ideas based on your creativity and the one who will most likely come out on top regarding profit. You have much to lose, time spent on free projects could be time spent on paid work or even your own dream. The truth is people will use others that allow themselves to be used, respect yourselves enough to know your time and creativity is valuable and worth compensation.
I'll share a personal experience with you, I'll keep things on a generic level because I don't want to name call and point fingers because well, that just isn't cool.
I was approached by a company with an idea that I thought was awesome, they even had success with it in the past and had some big players interested in funding it. We had some big names ready to sign all we needed to do is produce, I believed in it so much I devoted 2 years of my time working on the project and invested $40,000 of my own money to enable me to work for free and cover other expenses while I worked. The deal was I would get paid when the company did. Well the company kept making changes to where it was doing more harm than good and to make things worse I found out I could've easily been paid during the 2 years I worked. I was in such disgust I walked away from the project and never looked back. It's my own fault for signing up, but the sad truth is in hindsight I allowed myself to be taken advantage of. What did I have to show for it? A shattered dream and no money. LOL It's why I've told myself I'll never sign up on a project where compensation is based on a gamble or on a later date, no matter how good it sounds. (Unless if it's my own dream of course) I respect the work I do enough to know I need to be compensated, if people truly believe in their vision they'll make things happen, appreciate the people under them and have a desire to compensate them.
Anyway that's just my two cents. I am by no means the authority on this, I just felt like doing a journal that might help others think and to prevent them from getting sucked into an increasing trend where artists are underpaid and undervalued. Maybe this list will increase as I continue my path, who knows.