To expose or not to… bother.
As artists we are constantly looking for ways to get our art out in the open. When nobody knows our work, how will we ever sell it? So, we create galleries, websites, blogs, we try to follow the trends a bit to see if and where we could position ourselves. Companies like Red Bubble, Fine Art America, Amazon, Spreadshirt and thousands alike know that. In fact, some of them are really good at telling us what we think we need (let that sink in for a moment) and build markets around that.
This results in a continuously growing amount of websites that we can utilize to spread our web presence. A lot of those sites are free to start – although in general it’s going to cost you some amount of money to really get the site to work for you. And time; uploading, tagging, titling, pricing, audience targeting, spamming the social networks, etc. Some sites are prone to theft, so every now and then you can find your image or composition in someone else’s gallery and then you have to go to the appropriate loops. Usually this means putting a lot of effort into a lost cause. Copyright – or any right once your image has become part of the world wide weirdness – is just a tiny nightmare in the sea of madness that we call international copyright law. Get your money belt out and expect nothing in return for your expenses.
Most artists who try to sell their work through the Fine Art & Merchandise Bulk outlets soon discover there are way too many fish in the sea. They get overlooked in the daily dosage of the Artistic Vomitorium. Some get lucky, that is true, but the majority is only spending money. We don’t want that; we want to earn money.
Luckily, for us, there are still people looking for art. Film and music producers, GMO’s, companies of all sorts and sizes, they all need to feed their audiences with yet another clip or EP, a message of utmost importance, a incomprehensible commercial. Whatever it is these companies want to sell; they need audio, images, faces, ideas and preferably for a low price.
Again, how lucky! There are websites that connect the artists (US) with the searching parties (THEM). How cool is that!
Truth be told… Often that is not cool at all.
The Haunted House
One of the not so cool examples is a site called Talenthouse.
“Talenthouse was built to help professional creatives be seen, heard and compensated. Since 2009, Talenthouse has democratized creative work, giving independent artists from all over the world direct access to creative briefs from leading brands, agencies and entertainment icons.”
I don’t remember who introduced me to this website, but I do remember my first submission was an artwork design for a Signal Snowboard. This design did not receive much love, which I blamed on the fact that I hardly put any effort into sharing it on the social media effectively. Also, I don’t know a hell of a lot of snowboarders, so I accepted my `loss´ and kept an eye out for other opportunities.
Subsequently I submitted photography to a few other `creative invites´ and even created a Remix of “Wolves Without Teeth” for Of Monsters and Men. After discovering which remix actually won that contest and observing how that win was manipulated by the agency behind the band, from the moment it got submitted, I started thinking about what the hell I was trying to do.
“Artists that are not selected will not give up any rights to their work, however Xxxx and Yyyy have the right to promote their work on their channels in connection with this Creative Invite. All artists will be credited accordingly.”
Right of the bat, the blatant rights grab is apparent. The searching parties and their intermediaries know so damn’ well artists need exposure in order to get noticed, that they would sell their soul for a few hundred likes and clicks. That these likes and clicks usually serve some big company who actually owns the medium the artist uses… Well, how would the artist know? He or she is too busy to get noticed, sorry I obviously mean creating, right?
When we look at what companies offer for the product they are looking for, we see that payment is usually in the magnitude of do you really expect me to get out of bed for that? Don’t you find it amusing to say the least that a multinational worth several billions of buckazoids has the balls to offer 400 buckazoids for the photo/logo/font/jingle that expresses their values and connects to the intended audience in the best possible way? And it’s even worse, because when three thousand people submit their design or photo or whatever, only one of them will eventually get paid. That is a lot of working hours absolutely for free! Doesn’t it make you want to vomit if a band is ripping off photographers or remixers? It should! After all, where the hell are we headed if artists no longer care about artists? If artists no longer care about art?
And how about the receiving party? Are they really any better of than by carefully looking for an artist that whose work they like, with whom they can sit around the (virtual) table and discuss the what and how and ins and outs? No! At best they get lucky with a one trick pony – unless they get REALLY lucky and find that golden boy or girl, but then again… Will that golden opportunity sell their soul for 400 bucks? Think again.
Sites like Talenthouse are bad for everybody, because they devalue the artform, the artists as well as the company or organisation that makes use of their scheme. Oh really? Yes, really! The artists and art for the reasons I mentioned before and the companies, because in the end people will think you are a schmuck if you run your company by trampling over people.
Try to get away with that in a restaurant; tell them you want to taste all their dishes and then only pay for the one you liked best. Or even better, go to all the restaurant on your favorite avenida and tell them you want to order their best of the best and then only pay one of them. You are going to be so popular!
Stay true to yourself – unless you’re a dick, then please change
Over the past years, trying to make buck in the strange world of rock and shots, I’ve given my work and talent away for free, it has been stolen, copied and abused. For what? For an extra chance that one day, someday soon someone will call me to tell me they actually want to pay for what I do. Guess what, most people who paid me, did not get nothing for free to begin with. They saw my work, liked it and simply wanted me to do the job. Not the cheapest one they could find, not the one with the best marketing strategy or the biggest dick or fake smile.
Take that Talenthouse!