Coffee for justice? Sounds good Image: Thinkstock
If you've ever been a freelancer or an independent artiste, you are well aware of the miseries inflicted upon the creative mind. We are not talking about writer's block or deadlines, but anyone or everyone looking to make a profit off of your talents. *Cough* Exploitation *Cough*
We know you don't rush to your lawyer in case of a late payment, sketchy client or plagiarism. But you can though. Hyderabad girl Manojna Yeluri has come up with something that will bring you a little closer to the right side of things.
Yeluri started a campaign called #CoffeeforContracts, and it is exactly what it sounds like. She will offer legal counsel to artistes who need the same, in exchange for a cup of coffee.
"If you’re an artist or creative professional looking for help, please get in touch via DMs or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) I’ll try to help you out and all I ask for in return is a cup of coffee, whenever and wherever we meet next," she wrote on Facebook earlier this month, and received an outpouring of responses.
Coffee for justice? That's what we call an easy bargain.
"It’s the sheer diversity of professionals (who reached out) that is really making me smile. Coffee for Contracts isn’t just some free gig, where I wanted to get the attention of artistes, but was honestly meant to be an exchange. It’s so important to understand the pulse and vibe of the creative community, to be able to effectively work with it," Yeluri tells us.
She is the founder of Artistik License, a five-year-old legal and business consultancy for artistes and creative professionals. She advises and negotiates deals on behalf of indie or alternative artistes and content creators.
"The underlying aim of my work is to make sure that the law seems more approachable and useful to artistes, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping to achieve through Coffee for Contracts. Many times, artistes and creative professionals don’t know where to look for answers (when it comes to protecting their work, for instance) and I’m happy to be able to fill that gap in a way that is not intimidating," she tells us.
You must hear about Yeluri's campaign Image: Facebook
The campaign is for this month only, but Yeluri might just extend it as she admits she has an insatiable appetite for black coffee.
"The idea is simple – any artiste or creative professional can reach out to me for the whole of July 2018, and I’m happy to help them out with their queries, so long as we agree to meet up for a cup of coffee whenever and wherever we meet next," says Yeluri.
She mainly wanted to be able to help independent artistes in a way that doesn't seem overwhelming or daunting, because creative professionals do not always approach the law, even after being on the right side of the argument. So, Yeluri came up with a no-frills way to bring the law to them for free. We mean for coffee.
Yeluri also wants the indie community to stick together when needed, irrespective of their professions, and her campaign could very well establish that.
"I’ve already exchanged emails with illustrators who want to know more about how to safeguard their rights using contracts, and music festival organisers who want simple clarifications for some overarching questions. I would prefer to keep my exchanges anonymous for now, but I can say there are some really cool and interesting people out there, who are reaching out and from a few different cities," she tells us.
Yeluri obviously realises how precarious the notion of trust is in the indie business and she believes freelancers and independent artistes should be able to communicate.
"I genuinely believe that something we can fix (and ought to) is providing mentorship. It is so difficult for artistes and creative people to find trusted advisors and sources of information because as a community we still like to stick to our cliques. And that’s something we need to fix right away. We need to find ways to build community dialogue through peer exchange and mentorship opportunities, without harping on barriers and egos," she adds.
Funding, censorship, archaic legal provisions and infrastructure are some of the very basic elements which are a concern for indie artistes, and she intends to see them through their fears.
"The indie creative scene is literally bursting with new players, creators, platforms and stakeholders. And while that indicates growth, it also implies our infrastructure really needs to catch up. I’m someone who believes in the power of information and that we need to have enough awareness to be able to make informed decisions. These are just some of the many things that bother us all," says Yeluri.
So, if you're an independent artiste, and in need of some help, you know where to head.