( This was a comment posted on the WTFNaina piece called The Print Magazine Joke. The comment was shared on Facebook when I posted an update about the piece. There’s another comment that I approved for publishing on the story on the blog, but I don’t find it important enough to respond to with a full-blown feature. I’m a ranter. You got me. )

Sorry Naina Redhu i suggest you don’t take it personally its just healthy business .. Magazines globally work this way, for some artists it works well for some it doesn’t but in any way its not disrespectful to anyone .. people who charge politely say we charge and if business practicality applies they are paid if not they are not .. its just business .. best of luck to you god bless !!

“I suggest you don’t take it personally”

The suggestion is thoroughly appreciated. I will always be grateful to individuals who take the time to visit my blog ( thanks for the click! ) and even more grateful to those who take the time to write a comment. This suggestion of not taking it personally has been given to me many times previously as well. Of course, I fail to take the suggestion because I take my work and ethics VERY personally. The industry I work and earn a living in, is also something I take personally – because I’m invested in it. I am not a print publication myself, but I run a form of “publication”, i.e., this blog. There is no other way to take this except personally. Business is personal. It is about you and me. It affects us all.

“It’s just healthy business”

Not paying people for the work and effort they put in is NOT healthy business. It reeks of decaying, rotting, dying practices that need to be done away with. There’s nothing healthy about it, unless you mean that it is healthy for the print publication to not pay contributing artists. Sure, the magazine’s healthy – business and profits – and the artists are slaves. Not very healthy for the artists is it?

“Magazines globally work this way”

Anything that works a certain way globally doesn’t make it right or something to aspire to. Adapting to a new global work environment is paramount if business is to survive. Magazines need to think of new ways of making money. Indulging in unfair work practices is not going to cut it any more. One would assume that magazines got away with road-rolling artists for so long because the majority of the magazine’s readers did not know how a magazine was run. With the advent of the internet and people sharing their experiences, more of us know. There’s nowhere to hide, regardless of how long such practices have been carried out. Just because the whole world is doing it doesn’t make it acceptable. I will take a stand against such practices regardless of how unpopular my stand is. Because it is the right thing to do.

“For some artists it works well, for some it doesn’t”

Giving away work for free doesn’t work well for anyone, regardless of their being an artist or not. Some might appear to be ok with it because they believe that a magazine feature might make their career. If it doesn’t, there’s little value in talking about how this system doesn’t work for the artists. Why pick a fight? Most of us don’t like conflict. I’m not a typical activist myself – you’ll probably never see me at a people’s march or vigil or protest. Writing on my blog and talking about stuff on my podcast is where I do my bit.

The only thing this works well for is the publication that is receiving this work for free.

“But in any way it is not disrespectful to anyone”

Yes it is. It is disrespectful of my time, my skills, my talent and my work. If the publication is not willing to admit that they’re trying to screw over the artist, you might say that they did not set out “intending” to disrespect the artist. Doesn’t negate the fact that the disrespect did in fact take place.

“People who charge politely”

Fuck you pay me. I do not charge politely. Whatever the fuck that means. I charge. Fin.

“If business practicality applies, they are paid, if not, they are not”

You’re assuming that the print publication decides my revenues. It does not. I decide my revenues. You’re also assuming that only the print publication is a “business”. I am a “business” too. Business practicality applies on both sides. The print publication can decide that business practicality dictates that artists must not be paid for their work. Sure, that’s their business prerogative. My reasons for writing the first piece and this one, is to let the artists know that they have agency. That they can, in turn, decide that they will not give away their work for free. If “they” are not paid, “they” will not do the work. It’s a new world mister, you might want to get your head out of the sand.

“It’s just business”

That’s the worst excuse to justify not compensating for the value you’re receiving. I don’t care if it’s personal or business or war. There are two sides that derive value. The print magazine derives value from the artist’s work to make their pages look more beautiful and attract more advertising money. The artist derives value from being hired by the print magazine.

Do keep the dumbass comments coming. WTFNaina needs you!

For the record, there are some types of features in a print magazine that can be beneficial when it comes to PR for the artists. I am NOT talking about those features here. For example, when the magazine wants to interview you and their photographer takes your picture and they actually “feature” you. That’s excellent. The original “The Print Magazine Joke” was addressing a very different type of feature request. Please spot the difference.

 

More anecdotes and stories in the #WTFNaina series. ( These are all inspired by true stories. Some written emails, some from face-to-face meetings. They have all been piling up for years now and I’ve decided to put them to use! )

 

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3 comments

  1. This is such a well worded piece. Also to highlight all these magazines are entering the domain of fast moving content, videos and animation and what not and have you seen the kind of production value that they are churning out? In a scenario how could you not pay anyone for that matter. All of these century old tactics of monopolising artists is so gone redundant now. Welcome to the world of democratic “luxury and lifestyle”.

  2. Before reading your Print Magazine Joke piece, I never really thought about the work and money from an artist’s perspective. It was all about getting the work done, reaching out to people your boss has asked you to reach out to and get them to write a piece for you. I work for a women’s and education magazine, so the work sometimes is a little different from what you were pointing out to, but there’s a lot of this so called “featuring” that happens and it’s reached a point where people who are providing the content also don’t ask for the money. These people who write for us are given the “expert” tag and their name and photograph is featured in the byline of what is usually a trend-based article.
    I’ll give you an example. We got a piece written from this guy who runs a travel website with his wife (it basically helps groups of people travel to a pre-decided destination). We asked him to write a piece on something around safety for solo women travellers. He wrote an excellent article with very clear, crisp points and gave it to us. There was never a talk about whether he should be paid or not. In fact the magazine delayed publishing his article, citing lack of space, for about four months. This is the norm. I’m surprised why hasn’t someone ever asked to be paid for providing us with content. It’s assumed that if a person is successful in their field, they’re “experts” and nobody EVER discusses the monetary aspects.
    I’m assuming people who write for us are doing well and earning well, but does that factor make it okay? I mean we are asking a professional/artist/creative person to provide us with insightful content that is helping the magazine grow further.

    1. You’re the only person working in print who has even responded to my piece. That should tell you something. No one asks because they’re afraid of never being “featured” again. It’s been going on for SO long that people on both sides just do this automatically. People who ask to get paid ( hello! ME! ) actually are never asked again for features. “She asks for money, let’s not bother asking her.” I get it. There are pressures all around – for the magazine to fill its edition, sell it, for magazine employees to get work done – it’s a salaried job, why bother with any uncomfortable questions – especially when if one photographer ( me ) refuses to do it for free, there will be a hundred others happy to do it for free. And round and round it goes. In India, in my opinion, there is no acceptance of people charging for their time – unless you’re a white man, you will probably be laughed at behind your back for asking to be paid for your time. Not even work – for time. Consulting. “Picking your brain.” Tomorrow’s #WTFNaina piece is exactly about that too! It’s easy not to talk about uncomfortable things. Sweep them under the carpet. Why stir the hornet’s nest. If we start talking about it, everyone will start asking for money. Bloggers are happy being plastered in print magazines because they mistakenly believe that it helps their career in some way. It’s like Facebook “Likes”. They mean nothing in the real world. Put your money where your mounth is, then we’ll talk about who’s a real “fan” of my work yo! Also, everyone seems to be doing it – so why question it and rock the boat and be labelled a pariah?! Everyone wants to “belong”. And most of us would rather belong to the group that is perceived to have more power and money i.e. a print magazine. Artists are perceived as “poor” anyway. On the point of the artist or entrepreneur being perceived as making money or doing well for themselves, apply the same line of reasoning to a fashion designer like Rohit Bal for example ( purely as an example, pick anyone else if you’d like – Sabyasachi, Vallaya, etc. ), he’s doing really well for himself. Why doesn’t he start giving away his garments for free? Ok maybe we’d like to consider him being asked to contribute a piece for a magazine, does he charge for that? Maybe not directly – but the magazine will throw in an ad for him for free as an exchange for the “interview” or “feature” etc. I’ve proposed to magazines that I’m happy to do/shoot/write a feature for them if they’ll give me ad space in exchange – never heard back from them. Unsurprisingly. It’s their way of saying, “Who do you think you are?” To which I say, “Fuck you, Pay me!” ( Culturally in India, like sex, discussing money is also considered taboo – unless you’re an older man or white or both. This is my experience in any case. “How can you be so crass as to bring up actual money figures during our first conversation?!” So as not to waste your and my time madam. ) I could go on you know!

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