I’ve been modeling and animating at game studios for 7 years now. Recently I got laid off when our project got cancelled, so now I’m looking for employment opportunities, including freelance.
I’ve come across a few places that want you to complete an unpaid “test” assignment before getting the job. Is this common? Is it even ethical? It takes days to complete a nice model and its textures. Does a professional seeking work really have time to do unpaid test work? I’ve got a new baby, I don’t have time to do unpaid work. Is this a practice in other industries? Are programmers asked to code whole sample programs before they get a contract? It seems unfair to the freelancer to ask them to prove themself by doing unpaid work, isn’t that what the portfolio, resume, and interview are there for? I could see doing a single paid assignment as a test before getting a large contract. Doing unpaid work to “earn” a contract just seems abusive towards artists.
I’ve made a policy out of turning down jobs where they want me to do test artwork. My portfolio and resume demonstrate clearly that I can do the work, why should I spend time proving myself by doing unpaid work.
Lets say someone did the test assignment. What about the work that you submit? Can the studio use that work without compensating the artist? Surely not. I could see a studio needing 15 models done. They get 30 artists to do “test” models. now they don’t need to hire anyone because they got all the work they needed for free.
I’d love to hear comments from people with more experience in these matters.