I am a designer that wants to do some free design work for people, but the problem is, how do I find people to do free work for? Is there any place online?

The reason behind this is that I am good at this, but I don't have any clients, or any previous experience and I am a freelancer, so this would look good on my portfolio.

My skills are very vast and include : 3D, 2D animation, 3D modeling, motion design, stop motion animation,video editing, game design, level design, FluidSIM, illustration, unreal engine 4, graphics design, editorial design, web design and I also know HTML5, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery.

By free work, I mean that the clients don't have to pay a single penny for the work that I do.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 2
    I don't know you, but you should first honestly evaluate your skills. It's unlikely someone just starting out has the list of skills you've posted. Or at least posses enough of the skills to be fluent in all of them. You may know a bit about each of those items, but you should honestly evaluate whether or not you could see a project to completion using each of your listed knowledge base items. Even "free" clients will spread bad information about you if you try and take on more than you can honestly handle and mess it up. You've listed a very wide range of skills.
    – Scott
    May 1, 2015 at 20:07
  • I'm a programmer, not designer, but I had the same issue. I searched for small projects through my standard search engine (which is NOT the one people normally mean when saying so and neither the other famous competitor). If you're interested, feel free to check out the URL in my profile (you haven't left any contact information in yours), they're looking for 2D animation artists. May 1, 2015 at 20:23
  • 1
    @Mattygabe you are absolutely correct. I was speaking in generalities. In general, clients that ask for free work tend to not be good clients and you tend to end up with poor solutions that don't look good in the portfolio. But by no means does that mean you can't do great work for free. Just in general, 'free' is usually a bit of a red flag.
    – DA01
    May 13, 2015 at 16:32

5 Answers 5


Have you tried offering your services to your community? Places always in need of graphic designers include:

  • Religious communities (churches)
  • Community centres
  • Amateur theatre groups
  • Support groups (i.e. AA)
  • Schools
  • Immigration welcoming groups
  • Senior communities
  • Condominiums

By the way, you can always do these things without saying explicitly "hey, I am a graphic designer and I am looking for graphic design tasks". Just volunteer to do things that are graphic design by nature like posters, websites, flyers etc. As a bonus, you will get experience on how to handle clients: even if you do it for free people can get very demanding and opinionated.

Mind you, the more we offer or work for free the more people think our work is worth nothing. It is always good to give back to the community, but it is also important to educate the world. We do what we do for a living, not just for the love of it.

  • Well, I live in Maldives, where the community doesn't care about design and don't even need it. This is why I am seeking online for help. May 1, 2015 at 17:59
  • Related question: How to give back as a designer?
    – JohnB
    May 1, 2015 at 18:01
  • Even online it applies. One of the reasons why people don't care about design and would not consider paying for it is because we are nice enough to to it for free. Nobody would expect a mechanic to fix their car for free even if they love doing so.
    – cockypup
    May 1, 2015 at 18:02
  • Here in Maldives, good design is appreciated and even payed for handsomely. However that is not the case for most companies and organisations, because most of them are poor and cant afford good designers. many people do it themselves and do a terrible job of it. May 1, 2015 at 18:20
  • I know your pain : ) That is not only in the Maldives, I think it is all over the world. It is hard to make people understand that good design is not just a decorative added value, but a great business tool... particularly if their budget is small.
    – cockypup
    May 1, 2015 at 18:23

I suggest that you contribute to an open source project.

  • 6
    Can you add a bit more to this? Many designers aren't familiar with the open source world. Also, related: How can graphic designers contribute to Open Source projects? May 1, 2015 at 17:53
  • where can I contribute :) May 1, 2015 at 17:55
  • StackExchange is Open Source :) The first answer on that question really helped me find great projects. I went to GitHub and browsed around, sent some messages and was really well received!
    – Yisela
    May 1, 2015 at 18:13
  • I hate to be spammy-ish, but my small open source project could honestly use a ton of design work, both graphics and UX-related things. If you're interested please contact me through the project's SourceForge page here: sourceforge.net/projects/phpdraft
    – Mattygabe
    May 6, 2015 at 13:14

I started out much like you my friend, I had a lot of talent and skills and no real knowledge of how to put these things to use, obviously I had a little bit of learning to do so what I did in my spare time was contact companies in my local area that I was interested in, and either did some work on my own, and brought it in to ask what they think, or id reach out to them and simply ask them if they needed any work done. This will go a long with in both establishing a client base, or atleast a group of people who are familiar with you and who can provide your name to someone they know needing the services in the future and it will also teach you a lot about how to work with clients, and probably the best part of all, you get to meet new people in your community and lend a helping hand!


There are better options than doing free work for clients.

  • Open Source projects
  • Personal projects
  • Student projects (come up with your own design brief and design to that)

The problem with soliciting for free work is that you tend to get clients that don't value design work to begin with. And for design to be good, you need both a good designer, and a good client.

That's not to say it's never done, though. Ad agencies, for example, are notorious for 'pitching' work. But even then, they're doing essentially a 'student project' that they then hope to get paid for later. You can do this easily yourself. Find a local business that you feel could use a design overhaul. On your own, come up with a design brief and design a solution around it. Now you have something in your portfolio. You may even want to chose the business what you did, but I wouldn't expect anything out of that other than perhaps some feedback.


Forgive if I'm rude here.

Design is one of the profesions that has prostituted the most. Why do anyone has to pay a penny if there are always new insecure people who has no previus clients?

"so this would look good on my portfolio"

Your portafolio will look good if it has good work. So why don't you concentrate in making good work to show?

You say you are a designer. But I don't know if you have an idea what design is for. Do you belive in design? Do you belive that a good motion design video will help your client sell more? An impresive web page? A great business card will make a good impression?

"I don't have any clients"

But you don't belive it becouse you are not making any video to sell the idea of making videos. You are not making a web page to sell web page design.

One method to sell is "Look this are my clients". But the best selling argument is "Imagine what I can make for you". There are a lot of people willing to pay talented work. Period.

"By free work, I mean that the clients don't have to pay a single penny for the work that I do."

We know what that means. But new designers have no idea what overall perception that makes! Design is worthless.

I have a question. Does your work worth one penny or less? Or it is good enough to recive real money.

Make a series of wallpapers with an idea of a clasical author, Ilustrate a poem, animate a folkloric tale, make a political statement, make logos out of plain words, make your corporative image and webpage and fool everyone to think is the greatest design firm.

That will get you clients.

  • 1
    I think this a a bit harshly said, you could tone it down a bit. But this in reality is the crux. By doing it free you are depression your won worth. OTOH so is posting answers on SE
    – joojaa
    May 3, 2015 at 11:01
  • In response however, I think the sentiment of "whats the best way to contribute to open source" rather than "how can I give away free work" is shared among many in development as well (where I am from) - doing pro bono work on open source projects are great ways to contribute to visible projects without needing to create entire projects. If you need to showcase a particular skill, you can do so without needing to utilize seven others to make something that makes sense/solves a real problem.
    – Mattygabe
    May 6, 2015 at 13:45
  • Yes. If someone is compelled to help a ONG, a open source project, a stakexchange or whatever becouse you like the challenge or the project behind, its great.
    – Rafael
    May 6, 2015 at 16:52

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.