I know I’ve been writing a lot about art and artists lately, but some things need to be talked about because I can’t believe that people in 2020 still don’t understand how difficult it is to create art. The worst compliment you can give an artist is that they have been ‘born talented’ because it takes years to perfect an artistic skill, and saying that they’ve been ‘born with it’ is just you neglecting their hard work and assuming that what they do doesn’t really take a lot of effort. Which brings us to the next problem: people thinking that artists just sit in a corner and ‘do nothing’.
Every single time somebody has asked me some variant of ‘How hard could it be? I bet I could do this too,’ I want to ask them ‘Well then, why don’t you give it a go?’ I try not to be bitter about this, but when I see my fellow artists being treated unfairly, I have to remind myself that just because I have people who are supportive about my art, doesn’t mean that everybody else does too. So when a friend of mine talked about people just asking her for discounts even though she had specified how much each artwork costs, I felt like this needed to be addressed.
We want to be nice to people who want to commission our artwork, we really do. We want to be reasonable and fair and not overcharge them. But we also have to keep in mind the amount of time and effort that goes into creating even just one piece of art. I remember a time when I spent close to 8 hours on a tiny 5″x7″ canvas, working and re-working the details because I wanted it to look perfect. What looks like just a tiny canvas to the person who wants to buy the artwork is hours and hours of hard work. Not to mention the cost of art supplies. Quality demands quality, you know?
Here’s the thing you’re actually doing when you’re asking an artist for a discount: you’re telling them that their work is worth less than they think. You are not doing the artist a favour by buying their art. You’re buying something they made after hours (or days) of hard work. Negotiating with an artist is not okay, not if you know them personally, even less so if you don’t know them. And if you know the artist personally, you probably know how much work goes into every single thing they make. So, don’t you think that asking them for a discount or free labour makes you the unreasonable one here?
I’ve never brought up the topic of discounts with anybody because nobody who has ever bought my paintings has ever asked me for one. Two of those people are my best friends and, yes, they paid me in full for those paintings. They didn’t haggle because they know how hard I worked on those paintings. But of course, some people demand your services for free and completely disregard all the work that goes into making something that’s not only beautiful but is also up to the client’s expectations. That’s not how it works.
If you purchase artworks from artists you know, good for you! But don’t go around asking them for discounts or free labour because you’re not just being charged for the canvas. You’re being charged for a completed work, the details, the art supplies used, and most importantly, the physical and mental labour that goes into every inch of the artwork. Yes, art is ridiculously expensive and for good reason too! Maybe you’d think about it the next time you entertaining the idea of asking an artist to give you a discount. Be respectful and understand how much of themselves artists put into their work. That’s all we’re asking of you. Think about it a little, maybe.
To all my fellow artists out there, you shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than you deserve and you shouldn’t underestimate the value of your work. You’ve more than just earned the right to put a price on your hard work and you shouldn’t have to reduce that. Know your worth!
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