United Airlines: Her Art Here Campaign

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Well, I didn’t have Start a fight with a major airline on the books for this week, but I’m always up to fight the patriarchy so here we are.

By now, I’m sure many of you have seen the campaign from United Airlines inviting women to submit designs to wrap a Boeing 757. Sounds cool right? There are so many problems with this campaign I don’t know where to start.

The premise of lifting women up because we are so underrepresented is laughable considering the mission exploits any participating artist by doing unpaid work with that age-old promise of “exposure.” Give me a fucking break.

Here is my original rant from Facebook.

In today’s episode of #fuckyoupayme is this incredibly insulting campaign from #unitedairlines

What may come across as a very cool opportunity (I mean, come on who wouldn’t want to wrap a plane? I’ve always wanted to) but here’s the thing... This is a contest and you have to submit your design to enter. You have to do spec work and hope you get picked for the next round. I can’t believe this is still happening. Expecting people to work for free in the hopes that their work might be selected is complete bullshit. 

I don’t know what’s worse but this is pitched as a way to elevate underrepresented artists and give them a chance to have their work seen on a global scale and get this, they launched this campaign ahead of Women’s History Month. 

“We want to put women's art in the sky, for the whole country to look up to. While 51 percent of today's artists are women, less than 13 percent of art on display in museums is by female artists. This huge disparity in representation led us to commit to carrying #HerArtHere on two massive, traveling canvases — Boeing 757s.” 

This is not a joke and it makes me want to smash things. 

** I ended up spending a few minutes doing a mock up design after all, couldn't help myself. Too subtle? I did use their United Blue pantone colour.


There is a way to do this but this is not it. It seems so bloody obvious right?

Usually, there is a call to submit where you write an expression of interest and include some links to your portfolio with your CV etc…

Then, if you are shortlisted you are paid to produce something within the specs to the project and then present your work for a final round before the big prize is awarded. It’s not that hard. Jessica Hische tweeted about this too.

This is a multi-billion dollar corporation and somehow paying for work slipped their mind? The agency they hired somehow missed this little detail too. Whatever is already on the plane probably cost United rather a lot in ad agency billing. So offering 10k AFTER spec work is them trying to screw a woman artist out of what they already know to be a shit ton of valued labour. But that’s part of it too isn’t it? It is obviously not valued labour in this instance. So they are either completely greedy and horrible, or completely clueless and horrible. Which do you think?

I’ve tweeted, I’ve instagrammed, I’ve facebooked but haven’t heard anything from them (except getting my image deleted) so I think we need to turn the volume up on this.

If anyone wants to submit to this contest as an act of protest please feel free to use the high-res mock up I made. You don’t need to do the spec work because I already have! ;)

You can download the pdf file below just click the button and in the video you need to make for your submission you can let United know exactly how you feel about this.

*EDITED: I don’t know if anyone downloaded or submitted this, the contest is now closed and now the submissions get trotted out for review. And because I got quite a few messages about this from artists that didn’t see it this way, I want you to know that I am not angry that you submitted. I’m angry at United for running the contest this way, it was really tone-deaf and could have been handled better. If nothing else, it has now become a bit of a crusade for me and I will do my best to champion artists wherever I can. Things won’t change unless we change them. Love to you all. xx