Being in the industry I speak to many artists at different stages of their artistic journey, what I hear more often is how they feel they are being taken advantage of, this sometimes comes from their desperation to get their work out on display and more importantly generate an income through what they love, however this can sometimes result in bad decisions. I’m often told they are paying so called ‘agents’ decent amounts money to have their work exhibited, in the hopes of having it displayed in galleries. What actually happens is artists see their work put on display in random locations, without any footfall or potential custom with little or no promotion behind it what so ever. Typically resulting in looking like a jumble sale, in some instances having it on tables or propped up against a wall. Artists should be well aware that many people aka leeches will opt to monetise off them or use their creations without correctly compensating them by selling them one word, ‘exposure’. So if the story is constantly on play, why do artists make the same mistakes and how do they continue to fall into this trap?
When I initially started Visuale, I approached artists offering promotion and opportunities to help sell their work, with a fresh approach to the old fashioned submit your work to a gallery or competition and hope for the best philosophy, needless to say the majority of them were not interested. Maybe because I was running in a different direction to the traditional gallery or arts organisations. Being in the digital era where people check you out on google or social media as soon as they hear your name before they even meet you, I focused on creating an online platform first. From which artists could showcase their current work, future projects also utilising the site as an outlet to sell their art. Has this worked? Yes and very well, as I was able to convey exactly what Visuale is about and the artists we work with. So when we eventually did meet with buyers or galleries face to face they already had an inkling of what our vision was all about and the inspiration behind the artist.
Its common knowledge the arts is quite a cliquey industry especially in my city, I knew I’d find it tough getting artwork out there and establishing the artists I work with. Some think that being in cliques gets you ahead and others are just generally brownnoses and will do anything for help, thats how they try to get ahead period. I am a strong believer that networking is key, being a great opportunity to meet new people to help showcase who you are as a person not just your work. But those who buy into the notion of networking and cliques can often fall into a trap hindering real progression. Oh but you think that the new clique you've entered will have a huge network of people to introduce you too who can help you progress? Perhaps, but it is often the case you're pushed in the direction of a smooth talker whose sold you the word 'exposure'. The outcome is most commonly and outlay with no reward, of course this will be debated but last year I was continually told by not just artists but singers and other creatives they had been smooth talked into shelling out on 'promotion' and 'exposure' with no beneficial outcome.
On the flip side to this many artists and creatives aren't giving up their time for free anymore, for such a long time companies were selling the word ‘exposure’ getting creatives to work for basically nothing. Whether it was painting, creating illustrations, logos or performances, i’m glad to see the creative community stick the finger up to companies who still believe they wield the power they once did before the days of transparency. By this I mean the internet, where creatives can utilise digital portfolios such as behance, to websites down to Instagram, the digital era is helping to eradicate the gatekeepers.
So this is my plea to artists don't fall for the bullshit, not every ‘opportunity’ is a good one, do your research, ask for their credentials before you hand over a penny. Yes its at times its good to take a gamble, but constant gambles can be detrimental especially if you are keeping a close eye on your finances. Be wary of your new circle not everyone is out to monetise off you but as mentioned ask for credentials.
In the past few weeks I have been working on a series of podcasts offering advice on a range of topics which can help creatives increase momentum enabling them to hit the wider audience. The Podcasts will also feature creatives from a variety of backgrounds who will also give their experiences and insight to progress in the artistic arena. I will be dropping more news about the podcasts later this month as I am hoping to upload them the beginning of March.