...serenity in motion

What are you worth as an artist?

What are you worth as an artist?

People are posting on facebook pages all the time “What should I sell my work for?”  The question however isn’t what you should sell your art for but what are you worth as an artist?

What does that mean? I was talking with our Managing Director at the Spokane Art School about this very thing this week.  We were talking about poster contests in the region and how the artists sometimes get nothing but recognition.  Padding your resume is fine but when you end up donating your finished piece for nothing more than a concert ticket, is it doing you that much good?  Is it doing the artists behind you any good either?  One organization gives the artists 10 posters to sell and keeps all the proceeds from poster sales and from the final auction of the poster original.

It came up because I was trying to get artists to volunteer for our organization and spoke at length about it to one of my poor victims.  Stan Miller is a local artist who is nationally recognized.  He gets paid to be a juror for shows.  He makes a minimum of $1,500 for a weekend workshop and the organization covers his travel expenses as well.  Stan was very excited about our fundraiser but couldn’t paint for us.  He was very generous and donated a beautiful signed print (it really is gorgeous and we will have it in our silent auction).  He has his professional career that he is thinking about and if he gave his time away to us, others might expect the same thing as well.  I understand where he is coming from, and assured him of that.

When it comes to poster contests, what are you worth?  What are the people who will follow you worth?  Being the artist for a local music festival might be good for you ego but what does it mean for your pocket book?  That piece that has you on a thousand posters, can’t be sold by you because the organization has the copyright.  Once the festival is over? What will it be worth the following year?  Will it be seen outside of the area?  Out side of the region?  Out side of the state?  The original might be worth $1,500- 15,000 to you and your collectors and then there are the print sales, that you have just given up because it pads your resume.  Consider this; there are hundreds of contests all over the country every year and many of them really compensate the winning artist for their time with a real cash award and you get to keep the piece and the copyright. 

It is worth it to apply, just weigh the benefits; you never know what you are giving up for a line on your resume that won’t maintain value over the years.