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ADVICE FOR ARTISTS


There are two pieces of advice I would like to give all artists. The first concerns the many requests they get to donate art for charitable fundraisers and the second concerns their signatures.

Artists: DO NOT DONATE ART TO CHARITIES unless you just plain want to support the organization and its mission. I am not talking about the fact (as you all know already) that the IRS lets you take no more tax credit than the cost of your materials (shameful). It is, rather, about your reputation.

The New Yorker Cartoon by Joe Dater says it all. The scene is an Old West bar with cowboys (hats, guns, spurs etc,) sitting at a table or leaning on the bar. Just inside the swinging saloon doors stands another who is saying to the room at large, “I’m lookin’ for a couple of fast guns who ain’t afraid to lay down their life. There’s no pay, but it’ll be great for your name out there.”  Sound familiar? When you are asked to give your art, which represents your time and talent and is the source of your income, you are always promised it will be great exposure. Bullshit.

It will just put you in the position of being the subject of a future conversation when you are showing in a gallery or juried show. A potential buyer will say, “I could have/did buy her work for a fraction of that price at a silent auction for the Humane Society.” The same is true if you show with a local art group in the park or any other low level venue. Remember, no one will think more of your work that you yourself, so always be sure it is displayed only in prestigious and credible places at full price. Also, beware of the greatest mistake and most common mistake of emerging artists: underpricing. If you are willing to sell for less than the posted price, that is your business, but be sure you make clear what you believe it is worth.

The second topic is about your signature. I don’t care how you sign your work or whether your name is readable, but for God’s sake, be sure on the back of a painting to clearly state who you are; list the title, medium and date; and give some information about how to find you. Otherwise, especially if the signature is unreadable, your work will be listed as by “anonymous” in the future.