Paula Rodríguez’s speculative project is a reflection of undervalued and unpaid creative work
Barcelona-based graphic designer and creative director Paula Rodríguez has created a two-part speculative design project, based in a dystopian near-future, that invites users to reflect on the potential consequences of undervaluing design work. Taking place in the year 2027, the first part of the project proposes that – due to the immediate need for visibility – there is an excess of unpaid work and collaboration proposals in the creative industries. As a consequence of this, the ‘Instagram Wallet’ was born; users can manage their collaborations whereby instead of money, the payment comes in the beloved form of ‘exposure.’
For many new and emerging creatives looking to get a foothold in the industry, collaborations and unpaid work create a complicated and conflicting dilemma. With a lack of industry experience or contacts, these projects are accepted as a means of networking or ‘positioning’ – with the hope of paid work in the future. The tricky part is, in reality, most forms of unpaid work devalue the creative process. It creates a negative impact on the industry as a whole, as it falsely represents the price of art, design and creativity.
Through a critical lens, Rodríguez aims to not only challenge those who propose this type of work, but also those who accept it. Having been involved in these kinds of exploitative collaborations herself, Rodríguez emphasises that, as creatives, we have a collective duty to stop those who take advantage of the devaluation and precariousness commonly seen within creative professions.
An #InstagramWallet would devalue creativity and therefore, it becomes ‘on sale.’ This introduces the second part of the project, an anti-campaign centred around the hashtag #CreativityOnSale. Inspired by the clothing labels we associate with fast fashion, Rodríguez created three ‘sale labels’ corresponding to three job roles; make-up artist, designer and photographer. With a series of posters, she infers a fast-fashion-esque escalation of creative professions – representative of work under pressure and the consequences of devaluing creativity. These are further complemented by bold typographic posters, set in ITC Garamond, reminiscent of 90’s Apple advertisements.