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Unpaid Art Tests - Why is this even a thing????

soaps
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Hi Polycount, I'm a freelance artist and recently I've been given two art tests. Both are unpaid and both expect couple of days to complete.


One demands 2 days of my working days and another is 5 days. The brief of the 2 day asks for game assets, character design AND UI design. The 5 day test stipulates that I'm not even able to maintain ownership of my work... both briefs has HUGE red flags for me.


I don't see anyone asking their dentists to do a free cleaning to see if they indeed have the chops to be your teeth guardian,

I don't see construction workers working for free just to see if they really can lift that 500lbs steel bar with their awesome strength,

Nor do I see a cleaner cleaning for free because their client wants to see if they indeed can clean at their satisfaction.


Most cases, even if the work you hired people to do are not done at your satisfaction, they still get compensated.


So why is it a common practice for artists to work for free? Why do people think exposure and experience is a compensation?
-----------------Why are Art Tests expected to be done for free?????


Just to note, I'm not a "FOB", I've worked in the industry as well as the design industry and have almost a decade of freelance experience so I know that my concerns are valid. Until all of us band together and say No to this "very common practice" this will be reality for all of us.


I appreciate your input, personal experiences as well as any advice.


Thanks Polycount.

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  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky
    Is you doing them though?

    People will get away with as much as they can. That's just how it is. Reason we have to have laws that make punishment for cutting off your neighbors head. People do that shit.

  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis godlike master sticky
    I'd ask for yourself to be compensated for the art test. I don't think anybody will become angry with that question. For the 5 day art test, maybe don't send them the models, but images and breakdown of the models, to guarantee they don't use this in their game?

    Can I ask what country you're from? I feel like you're more likely to be paid for an art test in Europe than in North America, could be wrong though.
  • soaps
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    soaps polycounter lvl 3
    No, I'm not doing the test I've already sent them rejection letters. I'm frustrated that this is still a thing.
    But me not doing it won't stop this from happening, there will be others who are willing/desperate to do the free work.

    Just because it is a "common practice" does not make it right. It'd be ideal, especially to those who are new, to value their skills and the training they had to get through in order to be where they are at: we all need to value our time---the amount of training we did, the mental discipline we had to uphold, plus the personal hours we spent to polish our craft.

    This is a hard thing to do, especially with all the insecurities and anxieties we hold on a daily basis (even hourly for some), but this is why we have forums like these, so we can talk and speak with the people in the field. 

    Like you said people still do awful things despite it being illegal. Until we all grow a backbone, these type of things will happen and will continue to happen, and people will take advantage of us. As of right now, they all think it is alright to assign free work if it means there are few that are willing. On top of it all many of us has an idea that we will get compensation in the future and that is good enough.
    Even if you do the unpaid test/work, and land a job, I highly doubt they will respect you as a person. 

    Right now as artists, as this is s a "common practice", for those who are just entering the field to do unpaid work and tests, they don't even have leverage to say No. This is not right, and it is up to us to fix the mentality of non-artists and our future/potential employers and clients, and to protect ourselves and our time.

    We Deserve Better.


  • soaps
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    soaps polycounter lvl 3
    I'd ask for yourself to be compensated for the art test. I don't think anybody will become angry with that question. For the 5 day art test, maybe don't send them the models, but images and breakdown of the models, to guarantee they don't use this in their game?


    I am a 2D artist; any assets I send them, watermarked and all, will easily be used if they see fit and have a competent photoshopper.

    the 5 day test asks for the original files as well as pdfs, AND complete full ownership. :#

    Hello Red Flags, and Good bye. 

    edit: I've already asked if I will be compensated and the answer was no. 
  • slosh
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    slosh hero character
    So, while unfortunate, unpaid art tests exist because the market is saturated and companies can choose to be picky.  Obviously, if you become a well known senior artist, this will happen less as clients or companies will trust your abilities.  The caveat is you would have to be pretty damn good for this to ever happen.  For the rest of us, this is not the case.  You can always ask for payment but most places won't do it cuz they know they have 10 other people already doing the art test for free.  Plus with more and more art being outsourced to much cheaper external vendors, studios can be EVEN pickier about who they hire in house.  You are freelance which is a bit different though.  It might help to work for an outsource vendor so this doesn't happen as companies usually don't test vendors.  They just look at the folio of work and decide whether to hire based off of that.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp quad damage
    Well if it's any consolation: not too long ago I was approached by a well-known developer for what turned out would have basically been an art-test (with a chance to get paid if deemed sufficient) - for a freelance contract. So basically I was expected to put in the work up-front in the hope of scoring the contract. Very tech-dependant work too to be imported into some inhouse engine I know nothing about.

    And I did not even apply for this gig - they contacted me a few times, initially even wanted to hire me full time.

    I mean I do understand the need to narrow down the applicant pool if you are looking to hire full time from a number of hopefuls, the portfolio is inconclusive and you'd also be fronting the new employees relocation costs, but for this...?

    Anyway, turns out declining job offers can be quite satisfying. :)

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky
    soaps said:

    But me not doing it won't stop this from happening, there will be others who are willing/desperate to do the free work.





    Yes, that's why I'm saying any company that has you signing a contract that says you won't talk shit about the company is a major red flag and nobody should work for a company like that. I don't care if it's Blizzard, Naughty Dog... if you sign a contract like that, you are a buddy fucker.

    Because what happens? They use you and abuse you, you leave with your tail between your legs, and then you just keep your mouth shut while you watch everybody else go to do the same thing? Unforgivable! What's even the point of being a human and having language if you don't use it to warn others?

    Obviously developers forming a union seems like the most direct and immediate solution to abuse of workers rights, but I really think there has to be a change in culture for any long-term meaningful solution. There cannot be total forfeiture of responsibility  for victims... as in, you got abused and there is zero responsibility on your part to avoid obviously bad situations like that in the first place. That's not right. Somebody drives recklessly on the road and ends up getting htemselves hurt, what do we do? We shame them for being stupid. "You learned your lesson didn't you?"

    Of course a young kid being manipulated and taken advantage of by a major, prestigious corporation isn't as obviously stupid as speeding, but I really can't see how people who have been abused and don't sound the horn is not shameful. If I am climbing with my friends and I dislodge a rock and it's coming down at them, and I don't yell "rock!", well what the fuck is wrong with me? A real asshole right?

    But that's a bigger problem. 8 billion people, nobody even knows their neighbors or gives a shit. If that's not a dystopia, I dunno what is. It's very unhuman to not have a tribe that you give everything for. You need to care about others like they are family, otherwise it's all just a total waste of time isn't it?
  • soaps
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    soaps polycounter lvl 3
    thomasp said:

    Anyway, turns out declining job offers can be quite satisfying. :)

     How Dare they contact YOU and expect an unpaid art test for a freelance contract?! This is comedy gold. But I'm so happy to hear that you avoided them, *phew*
    If they have the balls to say such things to us, I don't see why we can't install steel plates of our own and give them a taste of their own medicine. 

    slosh said:
    So, while unfortunate, unpaid art tests exist because the market is saturated and companies can choose to be picky.  Obviously, if you become a well known senior artist, this will happen less as clients or companies will trust your abilities.  The caveat is you would have to be pretty damn good for this to ever happen.  For the rest of us, this is not the case.  You can always ask for payment but most places won't do it cuz they know they have 10 other people already doing the art test for free.  Plus with more and more art being outsourced to much cheaper external vendors, studios can be EVEN pickier about who they hire in house.  
    I understand that you're trying to explain the reality of it, but I'm afraid that we are all staying complacent to this issue and we will never get anywhere at this rate.  Like you said, there will always be someone lining up to do the tests for free,  But does this mean we are alright with this? Isn't this a problem we want to overcome and solve? Many of us still line up to do the free test because we understand that this is the reality and right at that moment, they are in need of work and have no other choice but to accept.
    It is easy to just get over the immediate problem at hand, and move onto your next problem but that one decision to push forward to do the task isn't just your problem anymore, but for many others who wish to change this reality. It really only takes that one person willing to do free work that ruins it for us all.
    If we don't stand up for ourselves and create more choices available, no matter how much we love doing what we do, we will be sandpapered mentally and physically until there is nothing left. 
    Obviously developers forming a union seems like the most direct and immediate solution to abuse of workers rights, but I really think there has to be a change in culture for any long-term meaningful solution. There cannot be total forfeiture of responsibility  for victims... as in, you got abused and there is zero responsibility on your part to avoid obviously bad situations like that in the first place. That's not right. Somebody drives recklessly on the road and ends up getting htemselves hurt, what do we do? We shame them for being stupid. "You learned your lesson didn't you?"

    This problem, along with many problems that we have to solve, will not be resolved overnight. It will take long-term and you're right, we ourselves has to change our mentality and eventually culturally. 

    No one in our society likes to take responsibility, and this is the core issue of it all. Just like how we stuff ourselves full of sushi to the point that the ocean is now turning bare, we are STILL gorging ourselves with fish. 
     No Body Cares---and this is absolutely heartbreaking. 


     
  • Eric Chadwick
    I get the outrage. However it's a supply issue, as people point out. You can't educate all freelancers; it's a free-for-all. If you're bucking the system, you'll get only so much tolerance before employers stop talking to you. 

    You can either work within the system to get work (and that's do-able, as demonstrated here), or figure out an alternative income stream. There are plenty of alternatives for digital creatives now. Self-marketing via multiple content stores is one approach. Quite a few forum threads about this, including solutions and guidance.

    I can't recommend this book enough, clearly and concisely explains the business side of creative work, and how to work this system to your benefit. Your local library will have a copy.
    Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines
  • Shark
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    Shark polycounter lvl 8

    As someone that runs a very tiny indie studio(that does do art tests) I think most of you are missing the very important context. The reason why we do art tests is the ensure the artist can properly fill the role. PLENTLY of people apply to the artist job and have a good looking portfolio, but that doesn't mean they can do the job. Portfolios can be and are often spoofed with art they can't do. Or they say they can match the style, and in no way can they. I get plenty of art tests that look like a 6 year old drew it, I get plenty "style matches" that are as similar as the frozen artic and the amazon rain forest. Despite a good portfolio, and the artist being adamant that they can do the job, in truth only maybe 3% of the artist applying can remotely even maybe do the job, and even then a lot of them aren't good enough fit wise.

    If I paid 200 artists for a single image and 99% of them don't work, then I just destroyed my entire budget for 150 images I'm hiring for, I over doubled it which is something I can't afford to do. Not to mention there may not even be 1 useable image in there. If I had to pay for the art tests then I couldn't allow most people to take it. Before using art test's I hired people did all of the paperwork, and then they didn't work out, and I had to fire them, and since they got paid based on completed and approved images, they still didn't get paid, and it was so much more of a hassle. Not to mention all of the ones that ghosted me right after everything was set up, and such.

    However using art from someone you didn't hire is absolutely wrong. That's why in general the art test we do are generally matching things we already have finished, so there's no use in using anything from the art test itself. I have also done an art test where we did need it, and it was an unpaid test, unless they passed, and then if they passed they'd be paid, and then we use it and pay them for future ones. I do all types of methods in the tests based off of the individual artist I am talking to, and their worries. Because making sure both parties are comfortable with the situation is important. One sided comfort isn't a good path, and sometimes there is no meeting where both are comfortable, and that to is also a test. Because if you can't meet where both are comfortable to start with, there's not going to be a good working relationship there, hence it's best for both parties to move on.

    A "test" no hire, then use the art anyways is VERY wrong. So I do not ask for the core files of the art until I'm ready to pay. I also do not wish for them to take our designs from our concepts and designs, and do what ever they wish with those art tests. That's taking stuff from us. It'd be different if they did everything from scratch, not just the art but the planned art design. I think art tests when done right are best for both parties. Because having to crack down hard on who is going to be able to take the test to begin with is going to hurt both sides. Expending a massive part of the budget if not the whole budget for failed tests of over confident artists is also not the way. At the same time, stealing others art to use in a commercial project is also not right. Art tests are important and valuable to both sides, but it has to be done in a good and healthy way.

  • Ruz
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    Ruz ngon master

    I took an art test last year, but it was for 'pixel art' and I was curious if I could do it or not ( I couldn't :))

    I quite enjoyed doing it tbh, but proably expected not to get thqat particular gig


    for normal 3d work etc I would not bother as if they can't be bothered to check who i have worked for and the work i have done, then it's them

    who are not doing their homework

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    @Biomag

    thats great to hear and thanks for sharing.

    You know, a person can justify anything. If we want to make things easier for ourselves, we can justify that. And if we recognize that we already have what we need and decide to help others, that can be easily justified as well.

    I was reading about how some interviews work for programming positions, and it is common to have sort of logic test as part of the interview process. While that is not as lengthy as an art test, I think its similar in spirit. And I don't think it's a very effective measure of much. It might screen out complete idiots, but I think what would be much better would be to have a person outline some work they have done and explain their work process.

    Why couldn't the same work for an artist? Walk through a project they made, have them explain what decisions they made and why. You are going to learn a lot more than some silly personality-gauging questions and learn more than from an arbitrary art test. You'll understand how they communicate, what they know about their profession, if they are a good decision maker or not, and of course you can ask some probing questions like, "how come you didn't do it this way?" and responses may help filter out people with ego problems.

    Just my opinion, but if I have to hire some help in the future I think that's how I'll approach it. And it seems more ethical as well, because we are sharing time together having a conversation, I am not asking somebody to do unpaid work for hours or days and then I silently review it later.

    A few years ago when I was learning 3d art I submitted a project to one of those student art contest, and the reviewers made comments about how I did not retopo my models by hand and this was a sign of laziness. But I had retopo'd the entire thing by hand and spent over 1,000 hours on it, lol.

    If it had been an art test, they would have believed something untrue because they were making assumptions, instead of asking questions.

  • Biomag
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    Biomag sublime tool

    My girlfriend is a producer. For her current role she had a timed 1 hour test. For the role before that in game dev, she had a couple of smaller tests (combined just a couple of hours) plus a whole day that she met the team and talked with them (we had to move to Finland so the had to pay the trip anyhow to meet her). None of this is an issue for me.


    But having to do an asset that might take 20-40 hours is ridiculous. Its 'easy' when you have a job and just doing one on the side to maybe switch studios. Far from ideal, but I could get it - an investment to improve your situation, nobody is forcing you to do so and you have your income in the meantime. That's something the artist can justify for him-/herself. Looking at freelancers or people trying to find a gig though this is time they waste that they need to bring food on the table. And it won't be a single test because they can't afford to sit around for months waiting on the company to conclude their hiring process. This means weeks wasted on unpaid work that can't be used for portfolios either (because lets be real - most of the art tests won't be even remotely on portfolio quality due to the stress - juniors don't bother asking the studio for permission to put it into yours). Its a complete loss for the candidates.


    Basically the studios drop as much of the risk on the candidate who will always be in a worse financial situation than the company. This is irresponsible. Do your due diligence and take the risk of hiring someone without having an art test to judge them. Stop acting like your studio's safety will be threatened by making a bad call hiring someone. You most likely hired your whole back office with less scrutiny.


    Just to make one thing clear - I'm sadly not speaking for our whole studio. Its hard to shift the whole company on this topic, people are really stuck in their ways. My lead trusts me dealing with my part of the team and doesn't force me to do the art tests, but this doesn't influence how he is doing his part. I can just suggest others to try it out themselves and make sure I don't support this habbit myself.

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    I just see the art test as inferior means to judge a person's professional capacity - never minding the ethics of it.

    On the one hand you have people making it out like to get a job you have to be an art hero, on the other you see all the time people griping about how people on their team don't know the a, b, c's of 3d.

    Seems like if you ranked candidates based on the non-portfolio criterions first, then just grabbed as many from the top that you can make time for and have them give a "book report" on whatever project of theirs that they want, you'd get a better idea what they know and who they are.

    I put half the blame for this on the job seekers though. It's 2022, we have the internet. Everybody ought to know by now that employers are going to be as unethical as the law allows them too. If people hadn't killed and died in literal battles all of our kids would still be working in mines. So, anybody who is just going along with the status quo even though they know that it's an affront to their dignity is, in my opinion, complicit.

  • poopipe
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    poopipe godlike master sticky
    They're a necessary evil for certain cases IMO - usually it's a fresh graduate that shows promise but doesn't have work that's representative of what you'll want them to actually do. 

    Hiring the wrong person isnt just expensive, it's shit for everyone involved 
     You end up punting them back out into the world before their probation period ends and they then have to explain to their next interviewer why they didn't last very long at their last job.  There's also a significant cost to the studio involved in rehiring for the same role (here it's about the same as the national average yearly  salary)

    If someone didn't want to do a test I wouldn't hold it against them -  I wouldn't hire them either though, too much risk.


    All that said . There's no reason to art test someone with experience. They either have a portfolio and track record you like or you don't interview. 
  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    @poopipe

    "usually it's a fresh graduate that shows promise but doesn't have work that's representative of what you'll want them to actually do. "

    In a case like that, where you want to confirm that somebody can work in some style or medium that they have not yet demonstrated proficiency in, how big of a task do you think they need to prove it?

    Do you really need to know more than, "I can dictate standards to this person and expect them to understand and comply?"

    You don't believe that could be discerned from a focused conversation? E.g. you explain a task and have them spell out step by step how they'd do it? I think the people who are faking the funk would be pretty obvious - I mean in order to talk through the process you really have to be experienced and understand what you are doing.

    One problem I could see is that this might bias against people who might be good artist but just suck at explaining things. That might mean you miss some prodigy, I guess.

  • poopipe
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    poopipe godlike master sticky

    I should point out that none of this happens until after a face to face interview (over an hours worth of conversation) which comes off the back of an internal portfolio review (30 mins with a couple of people usually). The test is only ever set if we think there's a decent chance of the candidate succeeding and importantly that we have determined that the candidate would be a good personal fit for the team when they do.


    These are good questions so...


    "how big of a task do you think they need to prove it?"

    Generally speaking a test would be something that'd take one of my existing junior people 2-3 days to complete and usually the candidate would have a week or 2 to hand it back in depending on their circumstances (school/work etc) . Comprehensive feedback is given whether they are successful or not.


    "You don't believe that could be discerned from a focused conversation"

    Yes and no. You can learn about how someone thinks about and approaches a task but you can't learn how well they actually execute something specific within defined parameters.

    A very stark example of this comes up frequently when hiring material artists (substance designer primarily) - what you're looking for is how much control the artist has over their output. Making something pretty is easy, making something specific look a specific way is a lot harder.

    This sort of thing applies to 3d artists, tech artists etc, too, its just a lot easier to explain with designer users.

  • Biomag
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    Biomag sublime tool

    I understand the risk that is involved in hiring the wrong person. I just don't see the difference between an artist and any other position. And again, other positions will do much more harm if you pick the wrong person (with often ending up in a situation where you will face the visible consequences of the mistake only far later on with potentially disasterous results).


    I'm also not arguing against the art test making sense to mitigate the risks - but if you are mitigating risks because it is worth something to you, why not pay? Why exploit the person in the weaker situation? Just because the market is that way? Does it really always require pressure from competition or laws?

  • poopipe
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    poopipe godlike master sticky

    first question : It's perfectly normal in most industries to set a test for programmers and other technical roles - sometimes these are short on the spot tests - other times they can take several days and this is the case all the way up to senior and team-lead roles. There are plenty of professions where a test needs to be done before you can take a position - whether its informal or or part of an accredited professional qualification (eg. HR/finance/law enforcement/catering etc.)

    second question : we don't have to offer anyone the test - I can just give the job to someone who is lower risk. The applicant doesn't have to take the test - the same as they don't have to accept a second interview.

    on your other point - If legislation forced payment for tests, I wouldn't be allowed to set tests - not cos we don't want to pay an artist a few hundred dollars, but because it would cost thousands to go generate the contracts and process all the other shite associated with it.

    How ethical this is comes down to how much of a dick you are about it I think - despite my comments above , I'm not a fan of setting tests and only do it when I feel like I might be missing out on a real talent if I don't offer the opportunity for them to demonstrate their abilities in a way I would find useful.

  • nathdevlin
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    nathdevlin polycounter lvl 11

    Echoing some previous comments here but will throw in a few notes. I've always looked at art tests as a way to prove myself to the company and show them I can genuinely do the role. I've completed a few in my time successfully and I've also turned down abusive ones that were 2-5 weeks of work.

    I am also not a fan of unpaid art tests but over the last few years being so involved with hiring at times an art test is the decisive factor a lot of the time to assess if a candidate is the correct fit for the role often this happens when its a graduate or someone moving up a level. The test is to afford them that chance. In cases it's also happened that an artists portfolio will be missing something to close the deal. Rather than over look them a small focused test gives them a fair shot. More often than not this has worked out exceptionally well for all involved.

    OFC usually there's a two step interview process to assess culture fit and general skill fit, this is after the initial portfolio review. By the time an art test is sent it's likely come up due to the portfolio review and two interviews identifying a potential area that needs clarification.

    As an example there's a chance that everything went great BUT the role requires a particular method of modelling , visual style or technical component that the candidate will need to be able to work with. This is where I'd set a unique small test 2 - 8 hours of work ideally and allow the candidate spread it over a fair time. Usually a week or whatever suits them to complete it satisfactorily. Time isn't the issue here it's can they do THAT thing.

    To me these focused tests can be very beneficial in making sure the company and candidate are happy the role is right for them meaning no one is under severe pressure and they're likely to pass probation and excel in their role. That's awesome.

    With all that said I do think companies eventually paying for this MAY be beneficial to both parties as it'll maybe make companies not hand out so many (some companies liberally send them out) but this may mean less chances of less seasoned artists being able to catch a break. Sadly there's no perfect system.

  • neilberard
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    neilberard polycounter lvl 16

    I think any test that requires more than a few hours labor should have to be paid by law. It doesn't matter if you intend to use the art internally or not, you are still requiring someone to perform work for the opportunity of employment.

  • poopipe
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    poopipe godlike master sticky

    where do you draw the line?

    The last interview process I ran through took around 15 hours over a number of sessions - I put another 9-10 hours into background research, arranging things, prep etc. I also incurred a fairly significant cost by taking time off work to attend the several interviews.

    Should I be compensated for any of that?


    As I said above though - it's a bit of a moot point, as soon as payment for tests became compulsory there would be no more tests (it makes no financial sense to set them) and as nathdevlin mentions, some good people would miss out on positions they could have got.


    In my view, you're doing speculative work when you go for a job. It's no different from painting a picture and trying to sell it in a gallery, or building a video game and putting it on steam. Nobody is under any obligation to buy what you're selling and nobody owes you compensation for the work you put into making it.

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    offering a job is no different though, is it? You can put it out there, but if nobody wants what you are selling, that's that.

    The only difference is that there is too many people looking for the jobs so the employer can be picky. Make people jump through hoops.

    Nothing will change until there is legislation, that shouldn't be any surprise to anybody who ever read a history book. But it would be nice if, in general, workers realized that they had every bit of power and leverage the employers do, if only they'd talk and cooperate more.

    Unpaid art test isn't a huge deal in the big scheme of things, so nobody is going to take very much risk to change it. Personally, I'll go live in the wilderness before I'm going to beg for a job like that. If I was teenager and eager to prove myself, I'd do things like that, but the older I get, I just can't stand the idea of somebody fucking with me. Is my employer going to take a five-hour test to prove they are competent and not a douchebag? How can anybody think they are better than me like that? I wouldn't treat anybody that way. If I can't pay them, I'd at least give them some food. And good shit too, not some cheap, sticky doughnuts.

    The simple fact is, people who don't cooperate with each other have no power, and if you have no power people are going to take advantage of you. Artist/game developers should get organized. How many even are there? I am sure virtually everyone is on the internet and can easily be reached one way or another.

    When artist collectively say no, they won't jump through so many hoops for free, they'll gain a little time back, a little dignity, and the employers will figure things out as far as finding quality workers. They'll also set a precedent, gain confidence, and that will make it easier to collectively fight for better treatment in the future.

    Slavers complained that the economy would die if slavery was abolished. You can't trust anything people say, especially those who get rich from the work of others. If decent people don't stand up for themselves, life will keep getting worse and worse. Don't let polite society fool you into thinking nobody out there wouldn't eat you if they could get away with it.

  • killnpc
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    killnpc interpolator

    rather than protesting policy, i really feel the community should be encouraging each other, especially our young devs full of fire, to create our own companies.

  • neilberard
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    neilberard polycounter lvl 16

    I think a line can be drawn in the same way minimum wage and other labor laws are hashed out. There is a similar argument that companies should be able to pay whatever people are willing to work for. By enforcing a minimum wage, you are effectively removing opportunity from a segment of society that is deemed not worth paying that amount. Why have labor laws in the first place then?

  • poopipe
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    poopipe godlike master sticky

    I'm not sure it's really the same thing although your logic is fine - I'm coming from a position where someone doing an art test isn't working for their employer, they're doing it as part of the interview process.


    Alex - genuine question... What do you expect to gain by refusing to do a test? If you need to do the test you already failed to get the job based on your portfolio and isn't this just rejecting an opportunity to show what you can do.

    We already know how to find a quality worker - it's one of the other people we interviewed that don't need to do the art test.


    I dont need to reiterate that I'm not talking about the scumbag version of art tests do i ?

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    @poopipe ,It's not what I gain, it's what I lose. Self-respect being the main thing. And if I do it, it also sets precedent for others to follow. It becomes race to the bottom. It's just like littering. A single coke can won't destroy the world. But if everybody litters, or even just 1% of everyone is littering, then the place is trashed in no time.

    When I first started with computer stuff, I figured I'd try and get a job to start out, but it doesn't look like the sort of work environment I want to work in. Too much stress, pay is too low, lot of kids racing each other to bottom - working with computers is already unhealthy and stressful enough. The pay should be high (80k/year minimum), the environment should be zen-garden levels of chill, and I only want to work with calm, mature people.

    Working on my own though, I can keep my environment like that, so I don't see a situation where I'm ever going to take any art test. In the future I'd like to be able to hire like 2-3 people for some help, and I don't care if it's the best measure or not - no way I could ask somebody to take a test unless I could afford to pay for it. To me it just seems disrespectful beyond question to ask so much. I am not offering an opportunity to work for me like I am some saint. I am just another ape like everybody else and I need some help.

    I remember in high school I think it was an economics class, the teacher asked the class that if a business has a lot of demand for their product, would they lower the price or raise it?

    Every single person in class agreed that they would lower it. Now they can make the same amount of money and distribute to more people.

    Of course, the teacher explained how the opposite is true. In that moment, he killed human instinct and introduced a classful of innocent young monkeys to psychopathy. (I am not faulting him, it's important lesson for people to understand.) I am just making point that humans have instincts which tell us how to deal with each other, and the fact that we model our entire society off the genetic freak of psychopathy is making life more and more untenable. So I am not going to do something to contribute towards that.

    One last thing, I remember watching a video of some experiments they did on monkeys like back in the 70's. There is two monkeys side by side in cages. They give both monkeys a leaf and they are happy. Then one monkey is giving a grape. It's really happy about that. The other monkey is visibly upset. The give a second grape to the same monkey, and now the other one who has not got a grape is going ape-shit crazy. HOW FUCKING DARE YOU! He's going straight to 100% violence mode. And the monkey that got the grape? He refuses it. Throws it away. All the monkeys get equal share, or they won't eat at all. That's the way that works for monkeys - it's been like that for million+ years.

    In my opinion, the monkeys might be dirty little primitives but they are living their lives with dignity and in a way that is correct for them. Nature made them this way and they don't fuck with nature. Man on the other hand fucks with nature, and look how miserable we are, despite having complete control of all resources.

    Anyway, that's all to say, if trade is not directly, unequivocally equal, I won't make it. It just ain't right.

  • neilberard
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    neilberard polycounter lvl 16

    If the candidate was granted full ownership of whatever is produced in the art test, then I think it would be a fair argument to say they were not working for the employer and that rule would not be applicable.

  • poopipe
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    poopipe godlike master sticky

    I've never seen a situation where they weren't.

    If that were the case then you'd hear no argument from me about payment being fair.

  • killnpc
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    killnpc interpolator

    i've been asked to remove rejected art tests from my portfolio by multiple companies. i would've appreciated using the unpaid effort made there in helping me secure other opportunities, obviously during that time i was actively seeking employment.

  • neilberard
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    neilberard polycounter lvl 16

    @poopipe Glad we can agree on that point. Every art test I have ever taken involved signing an NDA and working off of copy-written concept art. I've never put art tests in my portfolio, but it feels like I would be breaking NDA if I were to... Hmm, if I ever have to take another one, I might ask for permission to use the work and see what they say.

  • Benjammin
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    Benjammin polycounter lvl 5

    Well, some monkeys lie; they'll make fake alarm calls to scare off other monkeys, then go and steal their food.

    I more or less agree with your point that we need more respect for ourselves and each other, but nature is terrible example of fairness. Arguably, the monkey who throws away unearned food is doing it because the other will do violence on him if he keeps it.

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    @Benjammin

    "violence if he keeps it"

    exactly. Stupid monkeys got no words, but they know the rules. We have so many words that psychopaths fool people into forgetting the rules.

    The majority of people are failing to do the violence when others are keeping too much. In 2022, our "violence" is unions or at least intense shaming if that can't be accomplished.

    The only thing preventing better treatment is because people are spread out, don't communicate/cooperate, and are afraid to take risk that might make getting a job harder. Those are all problems been solved many times already. I am sure there is some people been around in CG industry a long time that might be able to reach out to some unions in other industries and get some pointers.

    Probably unpaid art test aren't a huge motivating factor for that but I think too-low wages and treatment we see in news all the time from the biggest studios ought to be. Looks like a crime against humanity wherever an executive takes a bonus simultaneously as they lay off workers. I can't understand how anybody can go into workplace where this happens and summon the motivation to work hard.

  • sacboi
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    sacboi insane polycounter
    A 'banana' I think worth pondering, indeed perhaps a portent of things too come?!

  • Benjammin
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    Benjammin polycounter lvl 5

    Again, I agree with your broader point. I think using animals as examples of behavior to emulate is getting into naturalistic fallacy territory, but that's way off topic.

  • Ruz
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    Ruz ngon master

    I did 2 day art test at Bitz games, whilst in their studio. Bit nerve racking , but it came out pretty ok and i got the job.

    did this around 2002- modleled textured and rigged in 7 hours + tidying up the next day


    I was pretty much inexperienced at the time.

    I suppose it proved that i could handle that particular situation ok, but it didn't really work out there as I got made redundant a few months later.

    Whlist at Swordfish games the boss gave a former colleague and art test as he was a little nervous ( odd reason to give him the test TBH)

    Again he did that in the studio and he got the job

    I did an art test last year, kind of knew the techique was a bit beyoind me( pixel art), but fancied having a crack at it still. Apparantly I got in the top 6 or something

    So although I am not that keen on them, they can serve a purpose if you approach it in a postive light

  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 8

    It's pretty silly honestly, asking for unpaid work. You don't ask a contractor to do a wall framing test, you hire them and they do it.

    Blizzard wanted me to do an unpaid art test, but with their reputation, I don't think they are in the position to bargain.

  • poopipe
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    poopipe godlike master sticky

    contractor vs employee is not the same.

    As a contractor, if you fail to deliver the product you are selling the customer is not obliged to pay you.

    As an employee, the company is contractually obliged to pay you regardless of whether you deliver or not.

  • Lukes3D
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    Lukes3D triangle

    Yeah I agree that art test can be fairly annoying. It's requiring you to put in more time for a job that you may have little chance of getting.

    It's similar to having to submit an audition tape for an acting role, except I would argue is even more involved.

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