The Battle Against Being Shanghaied By Buyer Crimps

In a lunchspot the other day, I was on a communal table where an artist was chatting to an anti-nuclear power campaigner.

The annoyance of being expected to do ‘free’ work in return simply for exposure was quick to surface.

As the artist (or as he also described himself, ‘photographer, musician and videographer’ and so more prone than most to receive such demands of freebies) complained;

I’m sick and tired of being Shanghaied into free work

This was an expression new to me. So where to turn for clarity but wikipedia (!)

Shanghaiing refers to the practice of conscripting men as sailors by coercive techniques such as trickery, intimidation, or violence. Those engaged in this form of kidnapping were known as crimps.

The oppression of press-ganging is a tactic that those regaling against work on spec and free pitches know all about.

Then the artist picked up the very pepper grinder in the pic above and waving it around, groaned;

If you want this pepperpot from me, you don’t ask for it for free, as you know it can’t be, yet you can expect my time for nothing! Why is that one-removed?

A neat analogy using what’s at hand.

In an earlier life, I remember myself facing demands for outrageously cheap prices for software. On the basis that a blank cd cost only pennies. Incredible. Whither the tireless army of programmers cutting the code?

Not all buyers are such bullies – or crimps – of course. Yet many may feel they deserve a discount that renders your profit not only dented but sometimes, obliterated.

The key is to have your defence ready. And if you can call on a nearby equivalent of a pepper prop to do so, all the better.

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