I really want to address the phenomenon of people asking artists to work for free on commercial projects.
You have to understand that not all artists can afford to work for free, and whereas it may be commendable to offer free work for non-profit projects or projects that are designed purely to benefit society, doing work for free on commercial projects is devastating to the industry and to less privileged artists who cannot afford to work for free, and who might have to give up art entirely as a result of others who can afford to work for free in pursuit of publicity or recognition. In working for free, you are essentially gate-keeping since less privileged artists cannot compete on a level playing field. They cannot even price themselves under you since you are undercutting any possible discount they could afford to offer.
Basically, every time an artist works for free on commercial projects, he ensures that poorer artists cannot afford to continue working as artists. It’s really that simple.
This is detrimental not only to art as a whole, keeping it the domain of the more privileged, but detrimental to society as a whole since the overall pool of artists is being shrunk and also being confined to a class of artists who can afford to work for free.
They are essentially trying to climb a ladder while unknowingly (to assume the best) stepping on the less fortunate artists trying to make it in an already competitive industry.
I feel this issue needs to be taken far more seriously, and any artists who actually care about art should absolutely refuse to work for free. You should be hired based on your merits and the quality of your work, not by offering your services gratis for people who will undoubtedly profit from it.
I myself have done a lot of work for free WHEN a project is non-profit, or when it’s altruistic socially beneficial work, but would never agree to do commercial work for free, on principle. Every time you do that, you make it that much harder for another artist to survive and continue to do art.