In the design world, there’s a well-known swindle where a prestigious but stingy client says “I wish I could pay you, but I don’t have the budget. How about you let me use your work for free? I know it’ll be great exposure for you, and lead to paying work.” In truth, it’s not, and it won’t. Designer Jessica Hische aptly calls this “the most toxic line of bullshit anyone will ever feed you.” Why? Because it’s just good-natured grifting, an exploitation of the weaker by the stronger. Nevertheless, it works, because there will always be designers hungry enough to believe that they don’t have other choices.
Google Web Fonts uses a variation of this toxic line as part of its pitch to potential open-source font contributors.