I have been getting hammered with groups asking me to give them artwork for free for charity events lately. I now answer “NO” followed with what I would offer, which usually includes something beneficial for me (kinda like getting paid – weird huh?). I wish more artists would propose something different as opposed to offering up FREE art and defecating on their own brand. I outlined some things that are important in choosing what I will participate in.
Do people really think there is an intrinsic value of “marketing” for me to give away my work? Really?
Here are a few details you need to consider as an event organizer:
#1. Juried. A call for submissions is a great way to attract great artists. The lack of a submission program shows that your event is willing to take what they can get, which by no way elevates your brand let alone the artists. A juried process is important, good artists do not want to show with just anyone. They want their work to be surrounded with other outstanding work and to use that opportunity as a networking opportunity.
#2. Sales. I never ask the gas station for free gas because I know there is no “marketing” opportunity in it for them. I am not sure why anyone thinks there is any type of marketing opportunity in giving my work away for free, again, all that does is discounts my brand. If you cannot offer $ for our work, you need to figure out a way to make us feel like we are getting way more bang for our work that the small amount of money we are asking for.
#3 Marketing. Selling art has a whole dance surrounding it. Artists need to be in front of people telling their stories and talking about their work and inspiration. Artists are interested in relationships. Have any of the people in your organization actually purchased work from the artists you are asking to donate? Has your organization looked at the list of local artists they have purchased from and supported in the past and if that list is minimal then, as a group, you need to seriously consider what that means.
What would we be happy with?
1.Being paid for our work.
2. Being paid wholesale for our work.
3. Offer up a studio tour for us to get people into our spaces to engage with them.
4. Rent a hall and put on a show for us to thank us for our donation.
5. Connect us with Canadian corporations to purchase our work!
6. Connect us to spaces/galleries/stores/restaurants that will host a show or or event for us.
7. Host a weekend show in your home and invite all of your neighbours, friends, their friends and work colleagues.
8. Throughout the year, support us at shows, engage in what we are doing, buy art we produce, purchase commissions. Not everything we have made is incredibly expensive. Most artists have a full range of prices/sizes of work/payment plans. If you want us to support your worthwhile community driven events, then support the artists you want work from.
So yeah, you got it, NO, I will not give you something for your charity event unless you are Calgary Reads (Little Free Library) or The Doorway. But if you want me to give you some art, come up with something tangible that makes me feel like I am not being completely ripped off or like you are calling me stupid. AND if you have never purchased anything from me, how could you possibly have the veracity to call and ask me for art for free?