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…
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?
I spent a good chunk of yesterday updating my artist website and even managed to revise my artist statement without giving myself a headache, lol!
There are two new sections on my site: ‘Installation Photos’ and ‘Studio Visit’.
The Installation Photossection contains shots of my work in various exhibition and other spaces. Studio Visit has photos of my studio space and works in progress. It gives visitors to my site a curated glimpse inside the studio and see a little of my process if they don’t visit or aren’t aware of my social media outlets, which is where I post most of those documentation shots.
A couple of years ago, I felt like I was on the verge of having to move my studio because of renovations going on in the building. The renovations were going to be starting right as my lease was going to be up. Luckily, I was able to keep the space. However, this year will see a big change because I found out this week that my lease won't be renewed at the end of the year. The short version is one of simple economics (as usual): someone else in the building is expanding their business, there's no more space and there's no way that I can match or beat what they will be willing and able to pay.
The good part of this is that my landlord has given me an eight month notice (my lease is up at the end of December) and I can leave beforehand with no consequences. So there's time to save a little and hopefully find a suitable work space option.
When my landlord texted me last week wanting to set up a meeting, having to leave the space was on the list of possible topics in my mind. I've been mentally preparing myself for this for the past 13 years, so it's not such a shock. I'm surprised that I was able to stay in Old City this long, considering the gentrification that took hold before I even moved my studio there.
Anyway, endings make for beginnings, and I have no choice but to embrace this change, so may as well get to it...