Fair Compensation


This is a pillowcase that I got on a trip to Thailand with my husband before we had kids. I love the loose patterns and bright colors. We’re not traveling anywhere exotic these days, but we will again, with Hazel and Thatcher in tow. I can’t wait!


I was approached this week by a company called Paper Culture. They are similar to Tiny Prints or Snapfish, but with an environmental platform. Planting a tree with every order, their mission “..is to deliver modern eco stationery as unique as the life events we help celebrate.”

Great, right?

After finding my portfolio on Behance, they contacted me about becoming part of their freelance design program. Always interested in additional revenue streams, I was excited to learn more. And, I really resonated with what I read on their website–caring about the future state of the planet, using recycled paper and reducing their carbon footprint, etc.

Unfortunately, those sustainability ideals don’t extend to their artists.

They pay $100 per design for exclusive rights, in perpetuity.

That’s it.

100 bucks. And you can’t even sell the design in your own shop.

I find this reprehensible. And disheartening.

After talking with them on the phone, I sent a strongly worded email declining their offer on the basis that they are exploiting artists everywhere and undermining the entire profession–making it harder for any of us to earn a living in this industry.

Would you ever call your doctor and ask for a free or discounted exam on the basis that you were going to tell all your friends about it and they’d get great exposure?

There will always be someone willing to be paid next to nothing in my line of work.

That doesn’t make it right.

By hiring freelance designers, they are asking those artists to provide a service that they will benefit from financially. Is it so wrong to expect to be fairly compensated?

I’d love to hear from you on this one–what do you think? Have you had an similar experiences?


Don’t forget, for the month of July, 10% of what I sell will go to The Art Students League of Denver, a local organization that focuses on providing opportunities for artists of all ages and abilities to study and work with regionally and nationally recognized working artists. From their website:

“ASLD is an inclusive and inspiring art community where members of all abilities are guided by professional artists to reach their highest potential.”



4 thoughts on “Fair Compensation

    • They actually have in-house designers in addition to freelance artists, so they should know what it takes to do creative work. I think if they offered a royalty percentage (maybe 10%) on top of the $100, and the license ended after a few years, I would feel completely differently. Thanks for your comment Daniela 🙂

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