Another week, another massive corporation asking an artist to do work for free. The cable channel Showtime has been publicly called out on social media by designer Dan Cassaro after they invited him and others to join “a design contest” to promote their broadcast of Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana boxing match on September 13th with the promise that he could have his artwork displayed in Las Vegas. After Cassaro received the email invite from Showtime, he sent a response filled with sarcasm: “It is with great sadness that I must decline your enticing offer to work for you for free. I know that boxing matches in Las Vegas are low-budget affairs, especially ones with nobodies like Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather.” Cassaro then posted the email exchange on Twitter.
Showtime attempted to defend itself on Buzzfeed, declaring that the cable channel is “a strong supporter of artists around the world.” Since Cassaro’s tweet went viral, he has been contacted by many people with similar stories. “It’s not just designers. I received a ton of responses from writers, cartoonists, architects and people in other professions who get asked to work for free. I don’t know what it is. Maybe people think that if you went to art school you don’t understand money?” This is not the first time an artist has publicly shamed a corporation over the value of their work. In 2011 designer Mike Monteiro made a famous “F*ck You. Pay Me” speech. In 2013 designer Juan Luis Garcia penned an open letter to Spike Lee over the use of designs for the poster for Oldboy. The godfather of artists who call out companies for getting artists to work for free in exchange for “publicity” is outspoken science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison.