Friday, April 30, 2010

Today's Art Rant

I can't believe what I just read!
It was yet another call for art where a charity organization was asking local artists to donate a piece of their artwork to be auctioned off at their fundraiser.

Don't get me wrong; I understand the concept that charities need to ask for donations in order to raise funds. As a matter of fact, just this past month one of my pieces sold at a similar type auction. I do give away some of my art to certain organizations, although I need to keep most of my hard-earned product for paying customers so that I can put food on my table. I also like to see that there is a minimum bid required in the auction. This means that if the minimum is not reached during bidding, the artist may retain his or her art, so as not to devalue it. I think that is an important factor, which respects the artist AND the artist's current collectors who paid an appropriate price for their piece.(Another acceptable situation is when the organization only asks the artist to donate a portion of the sale.)

What got me ticked off was that this organization, after asking for artists to give their art for the auction, (with no mention of a minimum bid, by the way) had the nerve to ask for an image of the artwork if "you would like to be considered for the benefit". It's a juried show! Now, you get to ASK them if they'll accept your donation. Unbelievable.

I want to repeat, I'm a giver. But I'm also an artist who takes my career seriously and is trying to survive financially in this crazy world. It just doesn't seem right to me. It's hard enough for an artist to invest in the needed supplies, spend the time, money, physical and mental energy required to complete a work of art only to hand it over for donation, but now they need to go through a jury process in order to do it. If someone's art isn't of the highest caliber, then the free market will decide that; it won't get a million dollar bid. But at least give the artist the dignity and freedom to be allowed to turn the art into something good.

I'm not trying to be mean, but what's that old saying? Beggars can't be choosers?
What do you think? Am I off the mark on this one?


  1. Laure W12:11 PM

    Are you off the mark on this one. No I dont think so.
    Laure W

  2. I went to a beautiful hall with a well organized event for a charity & saw a mile of crappy art that artists had obviously donated because it couldn't sell...The next year the charity show was juried...They were right...

  3. Thanks for your input. I agree that when attending a charity event featuring donated art, to have nothing but low quality art would lend itself to be an unpleasant experience. However, I still feel that to be asked to donate one's artwork and offer nothing but publicity in return is a lot to ask and to reject one's offering is a kind of a slap in the face.

    To donate one's artwork can be quite a generous effort:
    When an American (US) artist donates artwork which has a particular selling value, that artist can only deduct from their taxes, the cost of materials, not his or her time. So a piece that might otherwise bring that artist $500 in income, now will mean he gets only to deduct maybe $100 off his taxes, and all the hours spent planning, creating the art, recording, framing, transporting,... are now all non-billable. No other business would put up with those numbers!

    A solution to your problem could be to have two categories: a low-priced and a high priced classification. Most low-quality work would naturally settle into the lower bracket and art viewers might be more understanding and accepting to what they see. I don't know, it's just an idea. Many more ideas at the URL below. This discussion was expanded upon extensively on lindkIn by many other people with various points of view. One can read them here:

  4. One additional note: I want to make clear my previous point:
    When I mentioned that artists can only deduct the cost of materials, I meant to compare that with other businesses that might donate a salable item, and they can deduct the full value! This is why I say that for an artist to donate is asking a lot; it is more of a sacrifice than some other types of donations.

  5. Many well run fundraisers pay the artist 50 - 60 percent of the sale price of the art that was donated. These are the fundraisers that I happily donate to.

    I just wrote a post on this topic last week, as did another blogger (my post links to hers).

    Must be a lot of donation requests happening right now!

    Here's my take on the Problem of Donating Art and the Solution:

  6. I feel that giving art to fundraising auctions affect the retail market for your work and your work at galleries.

    Read the Professional Guidelines document about Fundraising Auctions for Artists titled,
    Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Checklist for Artists
    Fundraising Auctions: Issues and Checklist for Artists

  7. Wow. Maria and Harriette,
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and thoughts. I have discovered a couple new very valuable resources! I urge other artists to check out these artists! (Just click on their names)


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