Rather than talk about my work on here (I have tried it and it seems to make me quite despondent) I have decided it will be far more helpful for me to explore some of the issues facing artists trying to make a living out of this business…
WORK MAKES WORK
So I started this tumblr thing:
WMW is an attempt to make a place for artists (of any kind) to share their experiences (in a diagram of some kind) of how work has led to more work or opportunity. What that hopefully does is show in some way how networks operate and where opportunity occurs. This is different to ‘opportunities’ listings, because lots of these in the diagrams are private and to do with people connecting. It’s not supposed to belong to me or anyone, but just to be a place for generosity and transparency between artists. Things are smooth and mysterious in retrospect, so it’s nice to see the reality of a journey through projects and commissions, or just life.
I discovered that lots of artists already make them, just to evaluate or pin something down that is too complex to know in ones head.
I don’t know exactly what it does or is for yet, I need lots more to be able to see if there are specific things going on.
If you would like to add your diagram then please email and image to me at:
Fees Fees Fees.
I have been so overwhelmed by the number of opportunities with entrance fees attached recently. I don’t know if there are more of them around, or it’s just because they are ones I am interested in, but they seem to be everywhere.
I have a no entrance fee rule and have only broken this twice (and really regretted it) since 2009. But it makes some things difficult.
I totally object to artists always being asked to pay to enter things, to essentially go through a tendering process, which takes time and SO MUCH ENERGY. I know funding is scarce. I know exhibitions cost money. I also know that artists, including myself, earn very little income and don’t need to be an additional source of income for organisations or whoever. Often the people organising things, such as the Lacuna Art Prize, are doing so voluntarily. Much of the time, the people organising/administrating things are doing so in an organisation where people are on salaries.
I decided to tot up what the entrance fees on opportunities I’ve considered would have cost me since last autumn.
British School at Rome £25
RBS Splash £25.20
Jerwood Drawing Prize £22
(for one work. I am extra outraged by their decision to charge regional entries more).
Creekside Open £20
Whitechapel Open £25
RBS Bursary Awards £20
Charlie Dutton Crash £10
Mark Tanner Sculpture Award £15
Standpoint Futures £15
Exeter Contemporary £20
Locws Art Across the City Open £15
Total = 212.20
YEOWCH. There were more too, these are just the ones I remember offhand.
There must be a better way of doing this kind of thing. I realise there is a dependence on a conventional and tested model (especially for organisations), but why does the artist have to bear the brunt of these costs when they are the very person the competition/organisation/whatever is supposed to be supporting? It makes no sense to me.
I was asked to be a judge for one of these things once, although in a very odd and messy situation, but I still would have said no without those complications. I was offered £250 plus travel and accomodation to do so. I have no idea what other opens pay their judges, but I know that this has got to add up. Before you start on at me, I do realise the logic involved in having judges: it adds credibility, publicity, opens networks and the people in the opens should (but don’t always, some have a first round elimination) get their work seen by said judges. But at the end of the day, artists are funding these events, the many fund the very few, essentially making it a very odd kind of lottery. Artists are paying to apply for work. What other sphere of the world would do that? Totally bizarre.
I don’t know why I still get tempted by these things, I guess the pull of the award (whatever it may be) is strong enough in some cases. I shall continue to sternly talk sense into myself.
The other problem of course, which is a whole different disaster zone, is that if you are ‘lucky’ enough to be selected, especially for an open, there is probably no assistance with travel/production costs etc and it will cost you a fuckton of money just to take them up on their offer. Probably just save up the cash each time you are tempted and you’ll have enough for a new laptop/spa-day/food in no time.
I recommend reading this Career Suicide post and try and use it as a filter next time you look through opportunity listings :)
I wanted to add this scrappily drawn diagram here – it tracks life post YSP and how the exhibition has positively influenced things and directly brought in work.
The curator and I really wanted to make something that could be used as a document to show the effect that supporting emerging artists can have and to encourage the park to continue to take chances. I did also write it as a list for her – not everyone needs pictures to understand things after all :D
I just got the work delivered back to the studio last week so it was good to reflect a little bit.
I’m sure I missed things out too, but it’s a good start.
First, a cheekily brilliant look at getting paid by Mister Bingo:
Second, yet another warning about Debut Contemporary. I saw this while I was in Japan and I thought it was important to flag up, particularly because Teresa has written so openly about it.
Don’t go there, please.
So, for the first time in months I’ve had a bit I headspace. I’ve been getting a few things clear and have decided that the blog may have come to a natural end. I’ve been thinking this for a while and while I don’t plan on declaring it dead, I think it is going to become a place to highlight links and interesting projects rather than the diary-style blog it has been.
There is, of course, a ton more to be said about getting paid, artists’ rights and working conditions, but as I’ve been writing from a personal point of view, I’ve started to realise that the same issues re-coccur constantly. I feel like I have been round the carousel once and have started to experience similar things again, and I really don’t want to start repeating myself.
I plan to have a good rake through the blog and make a kind of summary PDF document of all the good stuff. Over the next year I have plans to work on a few long-term projects that involve putting some of the getting paid knowledge into action. I’d also like to do a bit of writing around the bigger picture after gathering some research together.
I still get a fair few emails every month (thank you C for the confirmation about Debut Contemporary being worth avoiding – a hilarious email about cameras/pink bowties and a completely lack of transparency in their proceedings). I really appreciate those and all the comments/dialogue the blog has brought and I will miss it. Getting Paid has just been a great thing to do all round and has brought me some really interesting friends and employment. Thanks everyone.