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Sorry, Shaq, we don’t work for free

The art community slams the former basketball star for asking for free animation

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Yet another celebrity or production company has asked an entire community of professionals to work for free. We see this all too often: creative people being asked to produce work with no guarantee of payment. Oh wait, sorry. They are asked to work for “exposure.” Well, the artists aren’t having it anymore, and former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, affectionately known as Shaq, learned a hard lesson this week after he released a video asking animators to create animation for free for his upcoming TNT and TBS docuseries Shaq Life.

While there is nothing wrong with a contest here and there, especially if it is geared toward those still honing their skills, to ask a professional community of artists, animators, and writers to submit expert-level work for “exposure” is obnoxious. Just ask Chapterhouse about the fallout they received recently for one of their “exposure” contests.

In the video O’Neal shared, he asks animators to produce entire short films about him. The deadline is less than a month and only the chosen shorts would be paid $500. And of course, a large helping of “exposure.”

“That’s right animators, I’m going to make you famous,” his pitch states.

O’Neal was bombarded with hundreds of artists slamming his concept.

O’Neal shouldn’t be the only one blamed here. The networks behind his show are known to invest millions into their products. TNT and TBS are both owned by WarnerMedia, a division of telecom giant AT&T. WarnerMedia creates original animation through Warner Bros. Animation, Cartoon Network, Warner Animation Group, Adult Swim, Ellation Studios, Rooster Teeth, and more. In short, they are not new to the animation and art world, and should know better.

The networks have since removed their promotions for the contest, but not before Twitter clapped back, including Eisner-winning artist Jen Bartel. Check out some of the responses to Shaq below.

1 COMMENT

  1. I never drew this connection before, but Shaq’s professional also depends on lots of early career folks working for free hoping the exposure will help them get a paying career in the field. Of course, he should know better by now.

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