How often do artists create and give away their art for free? I witness it quite a bit (and have done it many times myself, I confess…). Like donating a painting to an art auction (often to help raise funds for a worthy cause), performing a gig as part of a festival (even if admission is charged), or waiving a commission fee when your art is beloved by someone beloved by you. But does this common practice perpetuate the general attitude that art isn’t worth much, and that artists, too, aren’t worth much? While the idea of the gift economy is certainly worthwhile and Lewis Hyde’s seminal book, The Gift (a must-read for every artist and art lover) underscores how we must take care how art operates in the marketplace, it is essential that artists receive more than token compensation for their work.
ArtBiz Blog’s “Say No With Grace” is food for thought about how we, as artists, must learn to differentiate between when art is best given and when art is best negotiated for value, whether it be barter or good ol’ cash.