Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Guru.com : A Rant

**Feel free to continue posting your questionnaries, if you still haven't done so. In the meantime...**
I would like to continue things by posting an opinion about a freelancing website I've been experimenting with lately: www.guru.com. Certain freelance programmer I know introduced me to it, with the hopes that I would find illustration work and I decided to give it a shot.

At first, it seemed like an excellent idea. People post their projects, and artists decide whether or not to bid for them. I saw some interesting projects and decided to join the website as a basic member. As I started searching, I realized that as a basic member I wasn't allowed to bid on most of the projects, because these were reserved for "Gurus" or "Guru Vendors". To be a "Guru" or a "Guru Vendor" one must pay a fee that varies from 75$-150$ (quaterly or annually) and prices vary depending on your trade (these are for an illustrator). The artist, (guru or not) must pay the website fees on every project that is awarded to them through the website. It sounds like it works like a artist rep would, only that the projects are never guaranteed to you when you bid for them and the clients (sadly and most usually) are more interested in picking the cheapest bidder that'll "get the job done" than an artist that would deliver quality and creative problem solving.

As a basic member, the artist has limited (and much less interesting) projects to bid from, must pay the guru.com website up to 14% in fees for any project that is awarded, and is only allowed 10 bids per month. Also clients usually specify their budget when they post their assignments, so when artists bid, they must do so within their budget limits (and many of them can be quite unreasonable).

Even after I realized this, I decided to give a project a shot. It was a logo redesign that required some hand lettering and bought all rights. The website requires you to prepare an extensive proposal (like a one-page essay) in which i detailed the reasons why i would be good for the project, my education/preparation, my experience, how much i was charging for and why, how long would it take, etc, etc, etc...) All this in addition to an extensive portfolio of images and profile, loaded with my resume, awards, specialties, website/blog and everything else they asked of me.

I priced my work properly (according to the ethical handbook and my common sense) and sent the fastidious proposal. Needless to say, I never heard anything back from anyone, and honestly I wasn't surprised. There is a sizable amount of "artists" in the network willing to do whatever for much, much less than I was.

Another thing that really irritates me about the whole way guru works (for creative content, at least) is the overwhelming amount of "clients" that are looking for artists to work on projects with little or no creative input of their own. I have seen way too many "duplicate this photo" or "vectorize this for me" or simply images in which the artist is given no concept to work from, but instead a detailed specification, like:" i want so and so standing like this wearing a sexy cocktail dress next to so and so holding a wine bottle and on the other side so and so in a suit holding a rose, for my book cover on a love triangle based on my life, ect..." (no, im not kidding)

What happened to illustrators actually thinking up the creative content they create? All this "hand for hire" attitude really makes me flinch sometimes when i see these "projects" everywhere... This is the same attitude that makes me feel like a desperate artwhore, willing to do anything for anything, regardless of my experience, portfolio, ideas, etc... just to call myself an "artist".

I must admit though, that there is a lot of people looking for artists through websites like these, and that even one successful client interaction would be all it would take to build a new relationship, but one must really, really screen through so much crap in order to bid, and then hopefully be selected. It's tough on your morale, it has definitely been on mine. That's exactly why I'm writing this rant right now :) But i believe i owe it to myself to keep trying... I also understand that these websites were designed for completely different type of freelancers (programmers,engineering, legal,sales, marketing,accounting, consulting) who dont depend as much on creativity to get their jobs done. So in that sense, I am not that surprised.

What do you think? Am I being overtly naive by expecting any more from the general public/clients? Is it pretentious to refuse to be a "hand for hire"? What would you do/ recommend in a situation like this? Is it worth it to keep on trying to get work in such an environment?

The discussion is open! Please don't hesitate to disagree or be biased! I certainly am! Your opinions are always welcome, this is what this blog is for!


EDD said...

I think we could have learned to be a 'hand for hire' at another art/design school and paid a much lower price for it.
But for better or worse, we had teachers who encouraged us to think on our own and come up with our own solutions, not just follow directions.
I wouldn't close off guru.com as a possibility, but don't give up on sending those postcards! You deserve to find clients who respect you and respect your skills.

Jude Uzcategui said...

thanks for the support, Eammon! I'm preparing/designing a new batch of promos to send off in the second round...hanging in there!