Being asked to work for free (or for “exposure,” which is often the same thing) has long been a problem for professional artists, but this week, the artists are fighting back. In a couple of very popular tweets, two illustrators posted screenshots calling out people who slid into their DMs seeking free drawings and turned nasty when they were told “no.”
Canadian illustrator Aryll tweeted out this screenshot of a customer demanding free art, telling her she should be “thankful” that someone likes her work, and then calling her “entitled” and writing “fuck you bitch” when she didn’t give in. The irony seems to have escaped him.
The most nonsensical part—so dumb it’s almost unbelievable—was the argument that she draws for herself for free all the time, so this should be no big deal.
In a later tweet, Aryll claimed that the anonymous jerk had apologized to her, but she declined to post those messages or reveal his identity. She suspected he may have been trolling and didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.
For those of you asking why I haven’t disclosed the @ of the person involved in those DMs yesterday, here’s why: pic.twitter.com/vMFZAJDaAG— ARYLL (@aryllins) September 26, 2016
Although Aryll’s story is the most popular example of this gross way of interacting with artists on Twitter, it’s not the only one. It’s not even the only one in that 24-hour period.
Less than a day earlier, an artist named Jonas posted this gem from his own DMs:
The pattern is very similar. The would-be customer demands free work—in this case, a large number of Pokémon illustrations, involving hours of drawing—and then calls the artist “ungrateful” for refusing. The conversation ends the same way, too, with the troll cursing Jonas out.
These conversations are so similar, and so popular, that some people are starting to wonder if they’re being faked for the attention:
It’s easier than ever to fake screenshots now, so there’s no way of authenticating beyond taking the artists at their word, but there are other plausible explanations. This could, as Aryll posited, be the work of a troll seeking attention.
Or it could be two separate instances of actual jerks who think art is free. It’s extremely common these days:
People get so upset when artists want to be paid to do their job. pic.twitter.com/0HODdlfIgq— Chris Hallbeck (@ChrisHallbeck) August 19, 2016
Entitled art fans are nothing new (although maybe calling artists “selfish” is turning into an unfortunate troll meme) but the trend of exposing them on Twitter seems to be taking off, and that’s a good thing.