Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Taking a chance - pay artists for their time and product!

So, this video link came around via Ali J and it's a bit of a touchy complex subject for many.  Theres a video link here that is well worth watching if you intend to ask for one of my products for your blog, competition, event etc for free.

Here's the thing - a while a go I had a great conversation with Kira O'Rielly who is primarily a performance artist about the importance of *asking* to be paid. She, like all of us, occasionally negotiates a fee or service but she pointed out how it is terribly important for ALL creators to ask to be paid.  She stated that you wouldn't think twice about not paying a lawyer or teacher for their service - why assume artists services are free? We are underpaid - while art may appear expensive we may sell one or two a year..sometimes none if you work in the fine arts field I do (bioart - electronic art).  Kira is right - we should be letting anyone and everyone know we expect to be paid as artists; bartering doesn't put a roof over my head or pay my bills.

A couple of years ago we (my partner and I) were invited to exhibit in Spain - we said no. The gallery wooed us - said they would pay for the flights plus a $2000 euro fee.  We said yes not understanding how to protect ourselves being our first international gig.  The work was lost via the luggage system on the way over! and despite months of post discussion, we never saw a cent of that flight money or artists fee.  It was a seemingly difficult situation until we figured out we wouldn't have lost the work had there been proper negotiation - it wouldn't have gone missing had we said no and regardless, we put aside time and money to be involved (we did end up still presenting the work at a conference/symposium). People simply need to be paid. 

It's important galleries, blog writers, competition organisers, event staff, magazines and so on know how important it is to pay artists. And by pay I don't mean "in kind" through advertising or exposure - through cold hard cash. The exposure should be a sweetener if they really want to feature your brand. Please stop selling yourselves taking everyone else with you for a little bit of exposure in a blog or zine.

So, from here on here is my pledge -

Never again will I do any art for free. If they can't pay - I will find another way.

Please watch this video and pass it around...


  1. absolutely BRILLIANT thanks for sharing it.


  2. Yes! YES! That is wonderful and so freaking TRUE! People do all these artistic/creative things as a "hobby" and say, "Oh, I'm just happy if my costs can be covered."

    Meanwhile, those of us who are trying to earn a living and build a reputation as professional creators are cut out of the market by a bunch of hobbyists with no concept of actually being paid for the talent that they have.

    Rant! Soapbox! Etc! I love this post.

  3. I think thats dead on right.

    Here's the thing to think about when you are approached by a blog for example for free work and you are trying to get exposure - **the blog** is the the one getting the traffic and publicity for your object - your traffic is secondary at best and this simply does not translate into tangible sales enough for you to give away your art and to make other artists suffer through your example to mag and blog owners. People who enter those comps want the free item, not necessarily to buy one from you when one is being offered for free.

    Letters4Lilly made a good situation out of that but requesting the equivalent value in paid advertising. If the blog doesn't offer this make sure they know that you know their "oh but its publicity!" is for them and not so much for you. Ask for free advertising if they offer paid advertising options or ask to be featured if they like your product so much - but without a freebie. Etsy has coupon codes for discounts now so offer that instead!