There seems to be a pervasive request for freebies lately; it's almost like the buzzword for the 21st Century is Free. Whether it's Google trying to get illustrators to create work for Chrome for nothing or the free downloads that seem to be invading cyberspace. There's nothing wrong with bartering in tough times, it's a historical fact that artists have bartered their art for food and shelter but the idea that a multi-billion dollar corporation can't pay an artist's fee for usage is downright despicable. But it's not unusual.
Unfortunately illustration lacks the respect of the vast majority of art directors, art buyers, editors and the like. They view illustration as second-rate, only to be used when they can't afford photography or just to fill a space. They don't view what an illustrator does as anything special, nor worthy of a high fee.
And the worst thing of all is that too many of us are willing to work for free or very close to it. And everyone knows it. You wouldn't find a photographer taking the bait from Google and more importantly, Google wouldn't even bother to approach them because they know what the answer would be--NO.
It's like the difference between cats and dogs. Illustrators can be like pups who sit there wanting to be loved, waiting for someone to throw them a bone. Cats on the other hand are aloof, sure they can be affectionate but they're not there begging for attention. When they approach you it's on their own terms. Cats know their value and they play to their strengths. If illustrators were more like cats they wouldn't do assignments for free or for a ridiculously low fee. The illustrators who turned down Google are like cats, the ones who took the bait are like dogs. We all need to be cats.