Every freelancer has stories about clients who want them to work for free. But one freelancer decided to turn those stories into a Twitter account.
For Exposure is a Twitter feed run by Ryan Estrada, a South Korea-based artist. The idea behind For Exposure is simple: Readers send Estrada stories about clients asking them to do unpaid work “for exposure,” or Estrada finds their stores on the internet.
Estrada then captures these requests in all their depressing, greedy glory.
Almost Millions just spoke with Estrada about For Exposure, why he recently launched a Patreon page for the Twitter feed, and what freelancers should know about avoiding unpaid work.
Almost Millions: What is For Exposure?
For Exposure is a Twitter account that shares quotes from the worst unpaid artist-wanted ads out there. I dig into the deepest, darkest, grossest part of the internet so you don’t have to.
It’s there to first and foremost give artists a laugh of recognition, but also to help both artists and patrons of the arts better reflect on the offers they make and the offers they take.
An unexpected side effect is that many artists also use For Exposure as an outlet for their frustration. They avoid murdering their actual clients by scream-tweeting daily at the anonymous jerks and getting all the rage out of their system.
How did For Exposure get started? Did you have personal experiences that inspired it?
I am an artist and I’ve seen all the ads, but I didn’t know how widespread it was or how nasty it got until I started the account.
I thought it was a dumb joke that I’d find a month or two’s worth of content, but in a few days of searching I had a two-year backlog already scheduled. Now, it’s been going for four years.
How do you find content to feature on the Twitter feed? Do readers send them in, do you find them on their own, or both?
My daily routine is to check a folder of about 30 bookmarks consisting of forums, subreddits, and other places that often give me the best stuff.
One positive aspect that makes my life harder is that once I cover one place long enough, people there start to catch on and realize how crappy they sound and they get better.
As a result, I have to find new sources. I’m always digging, and following leads from readers. I get a lot of submissions now, and following those lead me to even more insanity.
What are some of the most common excuses or reasons people make not to offer pay to creatives or freelancers?
Usually it’s because “it’s just a hobby.”
But, like, golf is a hobby. You still have to pay your caddy. No one is going to give up their day and the time they spent following their own dreams to carry your golf clubs.
In fact, have you ever been to a hobby shop? Nothing there is free. Or, they say that drawing is “so easy” or it “doesn’t cost anything to make.” This is always someone who has never made art and has no idea how long it takes or how expansive the supplies are.
Can you talk a little bit about For Exposure’s Patreon page and creating a Patreon presence for a social media project?
I create many things besides @forexposure_txt. Comics, graphic novels, podcasts, audio dramas, videos, etc. I do massive collaborative projects that take years of production. They range wildly in genre, tone, and medium.
So I’ve always wanted a Patreon but it’s hard when i can make no promises what I’ll be working on or how many years it will take from month to month. But For Exposure is the one thing I’ve been doing consistently, multiple times daily, for 4 years.
So the not-so-secret secret is that it’s used as a way to have a Patreon for all of my work while sticking to one consistent project. It also allows me to give back and achieve maximum irony… by hiring artists (usually @forexposure_txt followers) to illustrate quotes about why they shouldn’t be paid.