In March 2014, I told a cautionary tale about how the Handel House Museum tried to get me to produce creative work for free. That request followed a credentials presentation and a detailed quotation, after which I was shortlisted down to the final four designers for interview by the board of trustees. I was then told by the museum’s director that a member of the selection committee wanted to see some creative solutions before making a decision. To add insult to injury, I was informed that there would be no fee for this stage. I told them what to do in no uncertain terms and withdrew and decided to whistle blow because I was so outraged that one creative community was openly prepared to screw another.
Eighteen months on and that project has now come to fruition as the Handel & Hendrix in London. At the time, along with me, another of the designers withdrew for the same reason, leaving just two. I was informed that all of the original four had been told to produce speculative work for the board to consider before making their choice.
I have no idea if the final design group actually did produce some speculative work; it would be good to know that they didn’t. Perhaps someone out there knows?
The reason I am making such a song and dance about this is because I know that few would bring this sort of thing out in the open for fear of losing work or being sidelined as difficult. But the fact is, if we don’t stand up for the value of our work and stamp free pitching out, we will be continually walked over by the likes of Handel House Museum. Shame on them for not having the integrity to treat designers with respect, and shame on their chairman for denying on Design Week’s website that it ever happened. It did and I wisely kept all the correspondence to prove it.
A little film for all designers with a very big bite.
And in one of those serendipitous events, a wonderful video turned up this week on the very topic of free pitching that is a must for every designer to watch and learn from. Take a look here.