I became annoyed by a post on Tumblr this morning in which a young artist told her story of not having her work returned after a show at a tech firm. She was told that it was being 'rented' online at "GetUpArt.com", something that she had not agreed to as part of the original exhibition. She went on to say that while a couple of her works were returned, she was given some small sum for 'rentals' and then the money wasn't coming in at all. She didn't mention that she'd had the remaining works returned or not.
Then, I cam across a 'competition' sponsored by Asos.com, an online fashion outlet that caters mostly to 20-somethings, that has a call out for artists to design a t-shirt that and the winner would have their design printed. That was it, no compensation or other reciprocal value to the artists/illustrators was mentioned at all, other than the implied 'exposure' on the Asos brand t-shirt.
Issues such as these exist at every level and in almost every area of the creative arts, what I call the 'Exposure Trap': entering contests and competitions where there is next to no value for the artist. I'm not against ALL art-related competitions, I'm against the desperate mindset that they create in younger and sometimes, not- so-young artists. It's important to question these things and that's what I address in my post. The full text of my Tumblr entry is below:
THAT THING ABOUT BUSNIESSES, ARTISTS AND ‘EXPOSURE…
Not long after reposting and commenting on a post by Jenny Odell regarding her problems in dealing with GetArtUp.com, I see that Asos is calling on “Tumblr’s top artists and illustrators” to enter their “awesome competition…”.
What do the artists and illustrators get? Well, “Your artwork will be a placement print, in the centre of the tee”. That’s it. No financial compensation of any kind from a company that makes millions in profits every year.
“But they’ll get all sorts of EXPOSURE because we’re a top online fashion seller…”, they will inevitably say.
I say a company making millions can afford to pay the ‘winner’ of this competition at least a couple of hundred bucks for their time and work. Competitions of this sort are really disrespectful of artists’ talents and foster a mentality of being grateful for receiving next to nothing in return.
If you’re going to enter contests like this, at least be really discerning about it.
Take at least a few minutes to research the company/entity or individuals involved. Search to see if there have been any complaints about their contests in the past or to see if they are legit about their claims.
Questions to think about:
- Is there compensation involved?
- If there isn’t, what else of value are they offering to the artist entrants, i.e., purchase of artwork, share of sales of merchandise featuring your artwork, etc…?
- Will they post/tweet about the winner and link to the artist’s website (if they have one)?
- How much work and materials will I have to put into making the art for this? Ex: Is it going to take a couple of weeks or more to work out an image that might get chosen to be on a t-shirt (or other item) that you’re not getting paid for?
Just food for thought…