ETHICS OF ARTIST SUBMISSION FEES

Not too long ago, charging artists fees to exhibit work was considered an appalling practice associated with what was once known as “vanity galleries.” Slowly but surely the practice eased into art fairs, exhibition and residency submissions, and grant applications, sponsored by nonprofit organizations, including museums.

Way back in 1994, art critic Joan Altabe posed the question “What would you think of a theater that charged the performers rather than the audiences? Crazy, right! Behold the crazy art world. The arrangement described above is one of the ways many exhibit halls support themselves.” Altabe interviewed various not-for-profit arts organizations who justify charging entry fees because the fees pay for the venue’s overhead. “We couldn’t survive without entry fees.” Altabe responded by offering a practical and intelligent suggestion: “Charge the audience, not artists.

Charging artists submission fees is now a fait accompli – and few are questioning it. The same thing happened when over the years artists have allowed gallery sales commissions go from 20% to 33 1/3% to 40% – and now 50%. Surely there are more creative ways that nonprofit organizations can stay afloat without getting on the backs of artists!

In most instances, I have been unsuccessful in dissuading some of my clients not to participate in art fairs if they (and not galleries) must pay for the so-called privilege. However, success from my warnings have only come after clients have shelled out $2,000-$3,000 (sometimes more) and have nothing to show for it, no sales and no valuable contacts. So, success is achieved by lessons learned from the hard school of knocks.

Each month I include in The Newsletter a few exhibition, residency, or grant opportunities. I would like very much to list more, but I try not to include venues that charge submission fees. Consequently, there are slim pickings and I spend a substantial amount of time doing research. If you run across any venues that do not charge submission fees, share the good news and let me know. carollmichels@gmail.com

THE TALENT OF COMPARTMENTALIZING DURING A CRISIS

Compartmentalization is often described as a negative trait. Wikipedia has this to say:

“. . . a subconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.”

However, the ability to compartmentalize when dealing with stressful situations is a true talent and if you have this ability it should not be taken for granted, as it is not a talent that all artists possess. Unfortunately, some people find themselves unable to focus on anything else but the Covid crisis and are preoccupied 24/7 with mentally paralyzing thoughts.

On the other hand, some artists handle stress by retreating to their studio to create new work or begin a new series. Other artists are wrapping their brains around career development projects that will be launched in the future – once the crisis has passed.

As many therapists have pointed out, compartmentalization is a skill. It is the ability to be afraid, angry, hurt, sad, or disappointed and put those feelings away until a time when you can better deal with them. Healthy people do it all the time.

For more on the subject:

https://withoutstress.com/reduce-stress-by-compartmentalizing

WEBSITE TO HELP ARTIST TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR CAREERS

The Artist Help Network ®™ is a free career resource website for fine artists – offering national, international, and regional, contacts and information designed to help artists take control of their careers.  The site is based on the Appendix of Resources in How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself without Selling Your Soul by Caroll Michels (7th edition, Allworth Press, 2018).

People working in the applied arts, arts administration, and arts-related fields will also find the site helpful. The site is a work in progress and is continually being updated. It is divided into the following categories that unfold into many subcategories:

  • Career
  • Exhibitions, Commissions & Sales
  • Money
  • Presentation Tools
  • Legal
  • Creature Comforts
  • Other Resources

Caroll Michels is career coach and artist-advocate, she works with artists throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and South and Central America.  For additional information visit www.carollmichels.com.

“NETWORKING IS OVERRATED”

Writes Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School.  Although the article “Good News for Young Strivers: Networking is Overrated” is not written specifically for artists, much of what the author has to say is applicable.  “If you make great connections, they might advance your career.  If you do great work, those connections will be easier to make. Let your insights and your outputs – not your business cards – do the talking.” Click to read the full article:

WHY I WON’T USE THE WORD “GALLERIST”

I read recently that an organization that provides career support services to artists is sponsoring a podcast that describes the differences between art dealers and gallerists.   In my humble opinion, they are one in the same.  Excerpt follows from How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself without Selling Your Soul (Publication date: April 2018):  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1621536130/?tag=artisthelpnetwor:

“Somewhere between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, art dealers in New York reinvented themselves and changed the title of their occupation to “gallerist.” . . . The new title arrived with a set of rules regarding who can use the title and who cannot. As an attempt to explain the difference between an art dealer and a gallerist, a gallery owner interviewed in the New York Times1 described an art dealer as one who buys and sells art but does not represent artists. The article also suggested that a gallerist nurtures artists . . . . Although the new title is pretentious and a less-than-subtle embellishment of the occupation of “salesperson,” it can also be interpreted that the “ist” at the end of “gallerist” symbolically represents yet another encroachment into an “artist’s” territory. It can be compared to the 50 percent sales commissions art dealers receive, an implication that they are major contributors to the creation of artwork! Therefore, this is the only section of the book that will refer to art dealers as gallerists!

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  1. Grace Glueck, “Old Business, New Name: Behold the Gallerist,” New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2005/12/24/arts/design/old-business-new-name-behold-the-gallerist.html. to art dealers as gallerists!

ADVICE ABOUT PODCASTS FOR ARTISTS

Podcasts offer audio programming, and can serve as another effective art marketing tool when used to record artist interviews. If you have been interviewed, provide a link on your website. If you have not been the subject of a podcast interview, stage an interview. Prepare a set of questions pertaining to your artwork, creative ideas and your life, and ask a colleague to serve as the host/interviewer. Or, if an interview has appeared in print, request permission from the publication to duplicate the interview as a podcast, in which case you would also ask a colleague to serve as the interviewer. If you stage an interview or convert an interview in print into an audio format, publish the podcast on iTunes and create a link to add to your website.

When adding videos or podcasts to your website, include a title and a short description. Announce the availability of a podcast or video in your blog or/ newsletter.

Additional information about creating a podcast can be found in the book Introduction to Podcast Technology: Discover the Essential Tools and Techniques You Need to Record, Produce and Launch Your Podcast by David Power, which guides readers through each stage of a podcast creation process in detail and offers precise, step-by-step instructions on the essential tools and techniques you need to record, produce and launch a podcast. More podcast resources