Unfortunately, we've all been on both ends of it, asking a friend if he/she could do something for us. Just an illustration. A logo. A website. As a favor, because surely we are going to pay that favor back. Well if there's one thing that creatives absolutely dislike, that would be friends sidling up to them in order to get some kind of free work out of them. Because let me tell you. That scenario almost never ends well.
To demonstrate and prove that point above, this time we have a story from Ross Brownell-Dupont, who has a comic out on Tabulit called Stickman Zombie.
His friend has a Youtube startup, and was in need of some illustration. So Ross decided to be generous. He decided to do it for free as a favor, because that's what friends do.
Ross followed all of the directions, and gave them regular updates in order to keep the project in the right track. He even changed the whole thing thematically because they requested a newer version that was more to their liking. Mind you, that's a lot more work than just following a linear workload.
At the end, the whole thing had taken 30 hours, which, would've been worth about 1500 dollars at a going rate for a professional. So what did his friend and the company do? They said it wasn't what they were looking for, and instead they went with a stock photo that they had found on Google Images.
After this, Ross undoubtedly had a sour taste left in his mouth. Now he says that he refuses to do work for friends anymore. He says that "friends (especially those that didn't go to art school) have an extremely hard time maintaining that professional and personal line."
Ross is certainly right to say this. Just because you're friends with that artist, it doesn't mean that you get some kind of free pass to extract creative work of your choice out of that person. They offer a service to be traded for money. Every time you ask for a favor, is time that your friend could've used to make money, for you know, food, roof over their heads, heating and electricity, Internet bills.
Most of all, if a creative turns around and asks for payment, don't balk using statements like, "but we're friends!" or "but you love doing this stuff. This isn't work for you." Because what you're really saying is this:
"Hey friend, I value you as a friend so much. So much that I think your work deserves $0 an hour. I think your work is worthless. That is why you should do this free work I'm giving you. Because it's worthless right? Shouldn't be a problem!"
People shouldn't think like this. Just because creatives are passionate about something, it doesn't mean that they are willing to give away their hard earned skills and services. Especially considering that creative projects can become quite expense heavy. I've known a lot of business people who love doing business related stuff but they won't move a finger if it doesn't result in some money for them. It shouldn't be different.
The best thing you should expect from trying to curry favors from your friend, is that your friend gives you a 'friendship discount'. But other than that, ask for the quote. State what you got, and ask at what cost your friend will do it for. Then negotiate. Try to match it with whatever budget you got, provided that your budget isn't $5. If you don't have the money, then try your luck elsewhere, or try to get the money somehow. Don't give the mumbo jumbo that friendship should be good enough as pay.
Because the benefit of having an artist friend, certainly isn't free work.