Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
The Pitch
(A Satire About On-Spec Freelance Work)

(The following text is not mine. It was originally published on the no longer available, then re-posted in the forum of the Illustratoren Organisation e.V. where I found it and translated it from German into English)



It was one of those long, depressing winter Sundays. The television program consisted only of crap interrupted by other crap, and the sun was shining brightly. So brightly that I could no longer ignore the dark stains in the corners of my room wall. It had been ten years since the walls had last seen fresh paint. I decided to leave the painting to a real professional this time instead of coloring my own clothes white.

The following Monday I looked up telephone numbers of various painters, took my phone and called the first number.

„Steppmüller Wall Painters and Stucco Plasterers, what can we do for you?"

„Good day, this is Schmid from Düsseldorf. I intend to have my apartment walls newly painted. I'd like to invite you to a pitch. When can you be here?"

„Pitch? You mean an estimate?"

„No, a pitch, working on spec. You paint a part of the wall for free in advance to demonstrate your knowledge about off-white."

„So... you want me to paint a wall? For free? So you can judge if I can paint? Listen, I am a registered diploma painter, I've been painting for 20 years-"

„Yes, that's why I decided to invite you to the pitch. You have an excellent reputation. You know, me – and my girlfriend – care very much about quality. We also would like to get an idea of your creativity."

„What, creativity? Am I supposed to paint the walls white, or what?"

„Well, you know, your brushstroke and such. Your personal style..."

„That's done with the roll. Into the paint bucket it goes, on the draining board, then on the wallpaper. Roll it off, ta-da, done! That's how I've done it for the last twenty years. Like my father, and my grandfather before that."

„I appreciate your skill. I've long observed the development of your company and am familiar with your excellent work."

„Then you already know how we work."

„Yes and no. You know, every room is different, has individual needs. I have been looking at walls for 41 years now. Believe me, I know exactly when I like a wall and when I don't. It all has to fit perfectly."

„What has to fit perfectly? The color? But you determine that."

„Yes, yes... but we also need to get to know each other better, to check if the cooperation works. I need to make sure of that on my own apartment walls."

„Now what, cooperation? I arrive with my assistant, paint the apartment, you write a check. Done!"

„You're leaving out a lot there. I expect an in-between calculation to determine the direction of the work. Then my friends and family have to see the finished painted wall. It's possible you have to go back to work on it again then."

„Am I getting this correct? You tell me to paint the wall off-white, and when I'm done your friend says red would be better, so I paint it all again in red for free...?"

„Now we understand each other. Also, my girlfriend is rather peculiar. If you work for us you agree not to paint any walls in Düsseldorf for one year, and especially not in off-white. We would prefer some exclusiveness."

Click. … toot toot toot


To my astonishment the conversations with other painters went similar. No flexibility nor readiness for compromise, and no trace of politeness. One of the painters even possessed the audacity to make very unflattering speculations about my mother. Even though that has nothing to do with it. Another one asked me if I am from „Candid Camera".

There I'd been ready to offer a contest on painting my apartment – without guarantees and some demands – but, hey, I offered more than an euro per hour plus materials!

It's an unfair world.
  • Eating: lentil soup and baklava
  • Drinking: tea
Add a Comment:
Jadeyfish Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha only just read this, it's excellent
DamselStock Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Sad. True, but sad. It doesn't matter what area of art and design you are in either; if you freelance, you will encounter this at some point in your career. I have been a freelance web designer for nearly 10 years now aside from being a digital fantasy artist. I have had some wild experiences with people similar to this dialog.
toerning Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012
An addition based off personal observation:

"Alright, I can't work for free, but I could come by this afternoon and have a look at your walls and give you a quote."

"Oh, this afternoon, huh? Well alright but let me just call my contractor first."

"Your contractor? What do you need them for?"

"Well I'll need to build the walls first."

And then, as you say, *click*

Thanks for the laughs!
ArtOfEdge Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Hahaha, perfection xD but also sadly true.
TrickyTiara Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is funny. Is a euro per hour a lot?
KristinaGehrmann Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Legal minimum wage in Germany is 7.50 euros per hour.
Professional illustrators calculate with 50-100 euros per hour.
now you have an ides :D (I know not everyone is familiar with euros)
Sirielle Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012   Digital Artist
Cool text :XD: Thank you for translation :thumbsup:
tartleigh Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
wonderful! My day job is a graphic designer for a print company and we get this all the time. People think all I do is push a few buttons and make things look "pretty", because someone in the past has designed their project for free, or nearly free.

However, on an average day, I use 6-10 computer programs (not including a few other odd file types and their respective programs), I have to be proficient in Mac and PC, and be able to set up final artwork for as many as 5 different printing machines.

My favourite, though, is how many people approve a project and never even look at it, then are angry when something is not correct.

People are funny.
Dr-Aim Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012  Student General Artist
oh my god this is everything perfect about commissions
Dorothy-T-Rose Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
This is so brilliantly true that its really just sad. Very sad!

jstuckey001 Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012
Do they always assume they get something for nothing mentality? That is a sad commentary for commissioned clients.
Agent505 Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Professional Writer
Yeah, that's completely reasonable. :)
sushy00 Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
Witch-Haze Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
Haha awesome!
nathie Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Hahahaha! XD
Yep, thats how it goes - sadly often enough. As a freelancer it´s not only important to have quality work, you need a good bunch of psychology knowledge to handle such - and similar - clients. :)
KristinaGehrmann Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Yes, exactly! :) Diplomacy and such.
nathie Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
BaliroAdmin Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012
ROFL - that is so true to how many commissions work out
HowlSeage Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Hahaha, fantastic read! Thanks for translating :D
keight Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012
Exactly! :D
Add a Comment:

:iconkristinagehrmann: More from KristinaGehrmann

Featured in Collections

Words by VanadiumTaintedBeryl

Written stuff by Arabascan

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
October 4, 2012


23 (who?)