“Exposure!” by Richard F. Yates

I received the following message today through Instglam:

“Hey our team have been eyeing on the artworks you’re uploading recently. Are you interested in being featured in our page for 1 week for only $49. During this 1 week, you’re the only account we will follow and we will upload three of the best works you want us to feature. Our account are followed by multinational art collectors around the world and we believe this is a great opportunity for you. Let us know if you’re interested.”

Frankly, I was offended. If this person is attempting a legitimate business contact with me, they need a FUCKING EDITOR or I’m not going to take them seriously. Missing punctuation, noun/verb agreement issues, flow issues, and very little style—errors like these are warning signs that the person (or organization, if there is more than one person involved) are amateurish and predatory, and I can’t envision that a “sales pitch” like this is going to convince very many people to fork over their hard-earned dough. (I hope.) As the late, great Harlan Ellison tried to make explicit (particularly in the documentary Dreams with Sharp Teeth) CREATORS need to value their abilities. Whether you are a writer, dancer, painter, actor, musician, snake handler, or conversationalist—YOU NEED TO STOP GIVING YOUR WORK AWAY FOR FREE! (At least stop giving it to people who are going to profit from your work while telling you that it’s worthless.)

CREATING is hard. CREATING is personal. CREATING is something that most people won’t do, but OTHER PEOPLE are happy to take what YOU have created, for free or for “exposure” or for their benefit, while trying to explain to you why they shouldn’t have to compensate you for your work. THAT IS BULLSHIT! Don’t give it away anymore. If it’s not YOUR website or YOUR project, MAKE THEM PAY YOU.

I can’t imagine that the person who sent me the message that I quoted above is an artist, or they wouldn’t be trying to SCAM another, fellow artist. They are trying to get artwork for THEIR site, THEIR endeavor, without making it themselves, AND TAKE MONEY FROM AN ACTUAL ARTIST at the same time. It infuriates me. What gives them the right? Oh, I see now. They say that their account is followed by “multinational art collectors around the world.” So fucking what? MY sight is followed by multinational art collectors from around the world. That doesn’t mean a fucking thing.

Don’t be desperate for attention. Don’t try for shortcuts. Don’t give fuckers like the one trying to scam me any of your money. If you want to be an artist, to sell your work to collectors, then you need to contact galleries and dealers and follow their submission guidelines. (It’s not that hard to do. I had my sketchy-ass artwork in a gallery after only contacting four or five different places. However, I should also say that, after selling several paintings, I soured on the gallery scene and no longer bother with it.) Another thing you can try, if your parents are rich or if you can get the funding through financial aid, is going the “ART SCHOOL” route, which has distinct advantages (contacts, a place to show your work, and an education in the techniques and the history of your chosen medium) as well as disadvantages (“influence” can quickly become “restriction” as you change your style to meet the expectations and opinions of your professors or colleagues; art school can be unbelievably expensive and there’s still no guarantee that you’ll be “rich and famous” when you get done; and sadly, personalities can clash in the education environment and cause severe psychological damage. After I took a creative writing class from a particularly hostile professor, I stopped writing for almost three years. Completely. It took a very supportive professor at a different college several months to talk me into believing in myself and my ability again.)

Honestly, unless you HAVE to make your money as an artist, not having commercial constraints will give you more freedom to explore and play. In the best-case scenario, money shouldn’t have a damn thing to do with art. In fact, I am now of the opinion that you (not JUST you, but EVERYONE) should BE CREATIVE for the JOY of MAKING AND DOING. If others end up loving what you’ve done, too, that’s a bonus, but it shouldn’t be the defining element of your work.

Here is how I answered that Instaglam message:

“Thanks for the offer, but the way it usually works is that people pay ME for my artwork. I don’t pay them to take it. If you’d like to pay me $100.00 per image for me to let you use my art for a month, I’d be willing to consider it, depending on the image. Otherwise, I think you have the creator/borrower relationship misconstrued.”

To quote Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” (Yeah, I know that line comes from an old poet, but I know it from Gene Wilder, and his delivery is perfect.)

Fuck scammers who provide false hope for money. Ignore the temptation and just do your own thing. Make stuff that makes you happy. Don’t be dependent on SALES (or “likes” or “follows” or any of that shit) for your self-worth. ART is what makes the world MORE than just eating and reproducing and dying. Make things and share them so that the world becomes a happier, more interesting, more worthwhile place to be, but don’t give it away to assholes who are going to take your work and then say it’s not worth anything. It IS worthwhile. It DOES have value. If most people don’t understand that, fuck ‘em. We, the CREATORS, already know that our lives are extraordinary, whether we’re swimming in cash or not…

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)



About richardfyates

Compulsive creator of the bizarre and absurd. (Artist, writer, poet, provocateur...)
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