Like any other creative industry, we as graphic designers get a lot of requests from various people to produce free items for them. This might be a website, a quick little banner, or even an entire marketing campaign. Either way, free work is almost never good idea: With some very important exceptions. If you’re considering working for free—no matter the reason—we highly suggest you read through our pointers below on what projects are okay to do for little to no pay, as well as what projects you shouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

  1. Web Design: This one is tricky, but our general rule of thumb is this: Web design should never be free, as it’s one of the hardest things a graphic designer will touch. There are so many variables involved, from setting out the graphics right up to coding and developing the end results. If a friend asks you to make them a website, say no—unless you’re writhingly bored. However, if a charity requests that you create a website for them, that’s a bit different. Charities look great on your clientele listing, and having that kind of experience and professionalism in your book can be very beneficial.
  2. App Design: We’re going to just come out and say this. Never do any kind of app development or design for free. Why? Because it takes months and months of hard work, and you’ll be getting nothing out of it but a dim sense of satisfaction. In our own words, “No Thanks!”
  3. Gig Posters: In the past, we’ve been paid to do gig posters. We’ve also done them for free. Why is that? Primarily it’s because we enjoy gig posters, which brings us to a critical point. If you enjoy the work you’ll be doing, that may be enough compensation to justify a low price tag. We like creating art that lots of other people will see, especially when it promotes bands that we enjoy. And trust us, lots of people will see the work. The resident artist behind the most recent Black Keys tour has been noticing more attention to his stuff than he ever would have before. Gig posters and other such artsy related avenues are fun, and can be a real publicity booster if you’re struggling to find work.