Cultivate first came together as a result of the frustration we felt as London-based artists in terms of the way we were (and still are) treated as artists. We decided that, rather than just moan about it, we;’d do it ourselves We continue to do it ourselves, group shows, solo shows, shows here and there, inviting artists to come be involved, you know what we’re about (well hopefully yo do). I’d rather be shouting about all the exciting art and artists, than banging on about the way artists are treated yet again, really must write a piece about Rosso and This One and what went on under the railway arch, but I a bit of a bee buzzing in my bonnet today……..
Got an unexpected phone call from a rather pushy PR person this morning, he was asking me to give away a painting to be auctioned for a charity event. Now normally, in theory, I don’t have a problem with this, but he was being particularity demanding and pushy and a little bit aggressive (I’d never dealt with him before, as far as I know I don’t know him). I asked him if his company was working for free on the PR campaign for the auction and if he was going to be giving his time for free? He was very evasive and unwilling to answer, eventually he conceded that no he and his staff “could not be expected to give up working time”, so yes, he was being paid, a “reduced fee” as he insisted on stressing a couple of times, but they were being paid. I asked him if he though that was reasonable, he gets paid for his time while I spend my time and money (on materials) on a painting? I said I’d donate a painting if he’d donate his time for free as well, he said no and that he had office expenses and rent to pay and blah blah (of course my paint and rent is free, I don’t have any bills to pay) . I’ve given away several paintings to charity in the last few years, indeed we’ve been involved in fund raising events as Cultivate, not something I shout about, but in theory, as broke as I am, I am happy to try and do this when I can. But hey Mr PR man, don’t take the piss and don’t treat me like I owe you a living. This has annoyed me this morning, what makes a PR company person think things should work like that, he really was aggressive demanding, he said I was heartless and I well, I won’t go on…. just don’t take things for granted.
Today, I should be delivering a painting to a private buyer in Luton, the train ticket is sitting here, it won’t be used now, the guy cancelled on me yesterday, he commissioned the painting last month. I’m not that keen on doing commissions normally, but this seemed interesting and fitted in with what I do anyway, we kept in constant touch, he seemed very enthusiastic until yesterday when a one line e.mail informed me he had changed his mind… so the painting is sitting here, the unused train ticket is sitting here and you know, this is just a little annoying. Don’t take artists for granted, you wouldn’t get away with doing this to a plumber or an electrician (thankfully I did make the guy pay a small deposit, he hasn’t asked for that back yet, but…), A couple of weeks ago I got asked if one of my paintings could appear on an album cover, the record label involved was quite a big one, certainly not a shoestring D.I.Y operation, no payment involved though, apparently it would have been “good publicity”, I might have said yes if it had been a decent band who genuinely had no budget but hey….
Last month I was asked to go paint live at what looks like it is going to be a reasonably big music festival, seemed like a good event, some decent bands playing, some good people involved and such, I said yes, I rather stupidly assumed I was going to at least get some expenses and costs covered, I was kind of looking forward to it. The organiser got in touch a few days back to confirm it all and to see if it was okay to add my name to the posters and the publicity and could I also start publicising it via the Organ and such, apparently, as she pointed out, I’m good at publicity. Then she casually mentioned that I’d better hurry up or I’d miss out on the early bird tickets and have to pay full price to get in. What!? Seems I was expected to buy a £70 early bird ticket to get in to the event I was being billed to appear at? Silly me, what on earth made me think that at least my travel expenses would be covered and that the cost of material would be taken in to consideration for an event that i was being advertised as taking part in?How silly of me, artists get to ride trains for free, we don’t have bills, where is my I’m an artist free rail travel card, can’t seem find it in the studio here…
I know no one forces me to do what I do, no one owes me a living, and in the big scheme of things, the fight for the NHS and the the junior doctor’s strike today that we should all be supporting and shouting about and such, this expecting me to do everything for nothing is not that important, and I know that it is my choice to live like I do and live on cheap baked beans while I make art (actually it isn’t really a choice, it really is something I have to do, something I’m burdened with), but really, stop taking artists for granted, if you want me to give my time, you give yours as well, if you want to commission a painting then don’t cancel at the last minute without the decency of an explanation, if you can’t afford it then say so (it isn’t like I was charging a fortune in the first place!) and if you want to advertise that I’m painting at your big money making music festival then at least pay me like you’re paying the bands or the DJs (or yourselves). As far as I know, unless I missed the memo, we artists don’t get to live rent free, we don’t get to go to supermarket with our “I’m artist I don’t have to pay” card and take what we need to survive, as far as i know we have bills just like everyone else 9I think those things piling up over there are bills?), it might be news to some, but paint costs money (or so the man at Chrome and Black keeps telling me).
So Mr PR man, I don’t usually make a noise about these things but telling me I was heartless this morning really annoyed me, and no, I’m not buying a ticket for a festival I’ve been invited to take part in (couldn’t afford one anyway!), and if you want to commission me from now on, then at least a hefty slice of the coldhearted money up front please. And no, I’m not giving you a painting for your album cover big record label person…. Now let me paint over this canvas that should be on the way to sunny Luton today, the thing is slightly tainted now. PR man was right about one thing though, I am heartless, they’re leaves! I don’t paint hearts, go see Jimmy C if you want a heart, he’s next door painting hearts…. (sw)