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Standards of Professional Practice

(Originally posted on Motion Design Association)

Co-authored with other founding members of Motion Design Association

When employers pressure artists to work without contracts or legal protection, and to work unrealistic hours for inadequate overtime pay, the entire motion graphics industry suffers. Both sides lose when artists can’t trust their employers to pay a fair wage, and when studios receive subpar work from overburdened employees.

The Motion Design Association believes solving this problem requires instituting higher, regularized ethical standards for both its members and their employers. By speaking together with a collective voice, we can demand a new status quo with greater trust and better compensation for all.

We seek to establish a set of rules and standards for good business practice in the motion graphics industry. Explicit, transparent and codified expectations will reduce the exploitation of inexperienced artists while raising the quality of work from all graphics professionals.

To generate a fair working relationship, artists should demand the rights listed below, deliver on the standards their employers have the right to expect of them, and work with other artists to educate them on these widely accepted best business practices.

Artists have the right to:

  • A clear contract or deal memo, outlining the scope of work and accepted terms (i.e., payment, duration of assignment, etc.)
  • On-time payment (according to local labor laws or contract terms).
  • Overtime compensation in the event of work necessary outside a standard 40-hr workweek, a reasonable amount of notice of the need for overtime work, and the option to turn down such requests without reprisals.
  • Credit on all completed work in Press Releases and publication.
  • The use of all completed work in self-promotional material.
  • A clear creative brief, including all necessary information regarding the project.
  • The ability to turn down work on moral grounds without reprisal.
  • Join unions, professional associations, or other collective organizations without reprisal.

Employers have the right to expect that artists:

  • Represent themselves accurately in their portfolio.
  • Be professionally responsible.
  • Act in their client’s best interest.
  • Create work that represents the best of their ability.
  • Produce realistic estimates of project times and cost.

Artists should NOT:

  • Knowingly infringe on the copyright or intellectual property of other designers, artists or musicians.
  • Accept spec work.
  • Create work which is false, misleading, abusive, derogatory or substantively detrimental to society or the environment.

Artists may choose to:

  • Assist organizations in their community by providing pro-bono or volunteer work.
  • Participate in mentorship and educational opportunities for fledgling motion designers
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One comment

  1. Thanks Bran. This is a really great list. You have armed me with lots of information.

    What kills me is “The use of all completed work in self-promotional material.” This seems to be “the most overlooked and vital” of the list.

    Been hearing stories lately about studios trying to block designers from posting work on their own personal websites that really only a small subset of people knows about.

    It sounds sketchy and disgusting when I hear this. There is a line of decency by waiting till it’s public, and in more security based situations there being measures… but it’s going too far at certain places where no one gives a fuck about some no-salt idaho potato commercial that’s already airing anyway.

    Yet another prominent sad power play in this business… with certain studios (even smaller ones too) trying to block the artists with shaky reasons.

    This is clearly the result of drafting up unreasonable “corporate” terms via with lawyers who are paid to maximize their “benefit”. Giving the artists in some cases zero right to use something on their portfolio as samples.

    And to top it off even when you can use it…on a good day: the artists are having to beg “massa” (the studio/client who is already using it on their website) for a watermarked/shat on copy. Of the work he himself created. As if that designer were only “the help” when he in fact led and designed campaign with his bare hands by himself with little to no resources from the studio. I credit everyone i humanly can directly under every video. That should be enough.

    There is nothing stopping our clients and studios from lying and making false claims… about how they’d take a loss if you posted the spot or styleframes on your site. 90% of it is a bunch of hogwash designed to block artists and make them less powerful and “help based”.

    It just keeps going on and on…and artists cave-in to contracts quickly due to fear. Few have the balls.


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