Dan Cassaro is a graphic designer and artist with an impressive body of work. That’s why he was so offended after receiving an email from Showtime asking if he’d like to enter a contest by submiting a promotional design for an upcoming boxing match at the MGM Grand. Basically, work for free, with a chance of winning a trip to Las Vegas if he’s lucky enough to have his art used to advertise a fight generating hundreds of millions of dollars. Fingers crossed!
Cassaro probably lit up when he read the first sentence of Showtime’s email, because, normally, when you’re contacted by a major television network who say they’re fans of what you do for a living, they usually don’t follow that up by asking you to do that very thing for free. Unless it’s for charity. As Dan points out in his response email, however, promoting a televised fight featuring Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. isn’t exactly doing God’s work.
Cassaro tweeted the original letter and his response, which went viral because it perfectly illustrates (he is a professional artist) the frustration that many creative people feel when it comes to valuing the work they do. Dan told Buzzfeed:
“The whole thing is just unethical. You would never cold call a bunch of licensed electricians and ask them to do the lighting for an event like this for free. You certainly wouldn’t ask them to hashtag their ‘submission’ on Twitter to drive traffic to your website. To call it a contest is a bit insulting. A contest is guessing how many jellybeans are in the jar so you can win all the jellybeans. … To participate in a contest like this as a working professional devalues the work of everyone.”
Exactly. Asking a professional to work for free isn’t a contest. And a trip to Vegas isn’t much of a prize.
Imagine how executives from Showtime would respond if they were asked to work for free, with a chance to have their emails displayed on the Internet as part of a story about corporate exploitation.