Friday, November 4, 2011

No Holds Barred.

As you might've guessed, painting for a living (much like any other occupation) has its share of gripes. In this particular case, of course, the issues are compounded by the fact that so many ignorant people seem to think it's a cute little hobby for children, but ultimately something we should grow out of - the ironic part of that being, of course, that the same people make the worst clients because they act like spoiled children themselves. Combine that ridiculous sense of entitlement with bad manners, general rudeness, and willful ignorance, and you've got a recipe for frustration:
  • Probably the most aggravating thing is people who offer shitty advice, or pass on leads that are obviously useless, but demand answers and validation right away. Here's a tip: if you give me a lead and I say "I'll check it out," that means I'll check it out. If I have a question, I'll get back to you. If it turns out to be useful, I will thank you, probably both publicly and privately. If it sounds fishy or turns out to be a scam - which it often does - I'll ignore it. Acting like a needy child won't help sell me on it. More than likely it'll make me feel tempted to ignore you in the future, and that's the politest response I can think of. So don't send me frantic followup messages the next day because you need your ego stroked. I will check out your recommendation and either follow it or not. This isn't about you, regardless of how noble your intentions might be.
  • If you know somebody who's looking for free art in return for some dubious "exposure" somewhere, point them in the direction of an art school. Maybe some lucky student will learn an important lesson or two about scammers and grifters. Me? I've already been down that road many times, and I've learned what there is to learn.
  • Don't be a flake when you're commissioning or buying art. If you've got a project in mind, by all means get in touch. I'll probably ask a few questions, then give you several different options with regards to size and price, and tell you how much I want for a down payment. If the idea of a down payment bothers you, then please fuck off and don't contact me again. It's specifically because of people like you that I ask for down payments in the first place.
  • Further to that last point, if you make a business arrangement with an artist, honour it. Don't run away when the project's half-finished. Don't pretend you didn't get messages, emails, calls, or invoices. And don't just assume I'll forget. It makes you look like a flake, an idiot and a scumbag.
  • And finally on the point of flakiness, don't offer to help someone out with a reference, a commission, or anything else and then bail out when the time comes to actually help. Especially if the aforementioned bailing-out involves pretending you're sick or out of town.
  • If you know someone whose kid would do the job for much less than I charge, hire that kid, or go buy yourself a nice print at Walmart or IKEA. I'm not interested in making bargain-basement art, so don't waste my time.
  • If your significant other decides halfway through a project that they don't like it, I don't care. I don't have a business arrangement with them; I have one with you. They have no say in the process at all. And if you have a disagreement with them, it's your problem. Not mine. Don't drag your dysfunctional baggage into my life.
  • Shipping is a legitimate charge, not an afterthought or a cash grab on my part. And it isn't an exact science; I don't know all the prices and regulations for FedEx, Canada Post, or UPS. If it costs more than originally anticipated, then it costs more. I will try my damnedest to give you a realistic quote, but I can't guarantee things down to the last penny. Trying to stick me with any additional costs makes you look like a cheapskate.
Wow, that was therapeutic. Any other artists got suggestions for issues I haven't touched on?

Oh, and if you think I might be talking about you? I am.


Anonymous said...

Everyone who is thinking of commissioning an artist should read this. I would add: if you're quoted a price by an artist, don't try to barter or say you're willing to pay half the amount. The price is the price!

Matt Sadorf said...

Well said good sir...of course now I wonder if I am flaky in my ideas, but that's for another day. Today we celebrate your excellent and civil form of griping.

Bret Taylor said...

My thanks to you both.

BenoƮt Leblanc said...

Whew! I'm glad I never had to deal with that kind of obnoxious customer!

The worst I've come across were on a few projects where I'd deliver the work and be paid, and then be asked to do some small correction (hey, no problem); then be asked to do some more small modification to the original idea (er... sure, I guess); then be asked to do even more drastic modifications that were really a new idea, and not a tweak on the original. (All that without further pay, of course).

That's why nowadays when I write up a contract I specify the difference between correcting a mistake or changing a trivial detail (free of charge), and doing a new version of what was originally asked for and delivered (for which more money will have to be paid).

I also hate it when someone who has no idea of how a painting is done says something asinine like "this is a fine canvas, but could you put the truck a little more to the left of the barn?"

Keep up the excellent work, Bret!

Kathleen said...

I so agree with you Bret.
Good words and good advise.
For this reason I only sell through Gallerys or finished works "As Is" to people with cash in hand.
There really are a lot of "DORKS" out there.