Art requires labor. It requires years of testing, trying, seeing, asking, peeking, being, and creating. It requires self-critique, global awareness, cultural exposure, daily action and consistent progress.
Art requires seeds, tools, and visions.
Art requires seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, and years passed by.
Art costs the artist their lives. Both as a form of compulsion but also in the form of an eternal force, a thread throughout history of humanity expressing its collective self and communicating around what life is and what it means to be a person.
When you pay for a piece of art – you are paying for all of that.
The creative experiments gone awry, the anguish of perfection, the process of discovery, and the development of an artistic voice. Quite frankly, the fact that any art at all can be purchased for less than a few hundred dollars is totally amazing in such context.
If this is the case, our society needs to drastically shift the way we think about art, the way we compensate artists, the models we build for including art in our world, and the way we redefine the value of art in our culture and communities.
Dispelling and expelling the exposure paradigm in art is essential to that progress.
Am I right? I’m not sure, but I highly doubt if anyone has ever walked into a dentist’s office and said, “I have no money, and I don’t intend to pay you… necessarily, but I know your work will help me, so how about I just tell a few people that you do solid dental work and we call it a deal – cool?”
I mean, it’s asinine. There is no way in hell this exposure paradigm would work or would even be suggested in literally every other industry, product or service in the world.
What’s really happening here, though?
What’s happening is, the curator, organizer, or producer of the event wants, and more importantly knows, that they need the artist’s contribution to make the production special, fun, creative, vibrant, alive, engaging, exciting, worth-talking-about, etc etc etc.
In essence, they have no event without the artist.
At IPaintMyMind, we believe that working artists, as in, artists with a track record of sales and professional work should always be compensated for their work, unless the artist feels it right to donate to a cause they believe in or support. This does not mean adding some quasi-cause component on the end of a money-making venture, only to reduce the artist’s compensation package. It’s about having skin in the game and sharing the upside.
The Coffee Shop Model
You can see where coffee shops can be in a bind, but I also think it’s really gotten away from us, to the point where artists are presenting entire gallery shows in coffee shops without any guaranteed compensation. Oftentimes the ‘exposure paradigm’ gets lumped into this model because sans cash, it’s really all they can offer.
I don’t think this trend will cease, but there are a few things well-meaning coffee shops could do to more fully support the artists who display entire collections of finished, oftentimes framed artwork, without pay.
1) Share a % of tips for the duration of the show run with the artist
2) Promote a small % discount for the artists online sales with a special discount code to your customers both in-store and online
3) Purchase 1-2 pieces of art from each artist you invite into your coffee shop and slowly create your own rotating art collection!
4) Free coffee for the artist the entire time their art is on display.
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