Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Art Advice: I hope this does not sound selfish. How will donating my art to charitable fundraisers help my professional career as an artist?

Q. I hope this does not sound selfish. How will donating my art to charitable fundraisers help my professional career as an artist?

A. Well, you could have put it a different way. It is hard to donate anything without having some form of good intention, true? Dr. X is not going to destroy the world by donating something to charity, right? I suppose that could be debated. Actually you hit on something here... artists often mention the fundraisers they have been involved with and are apt to include those ventures on their resumes. However, few are willing to reveal that in the back of their mind they hope a collector or curator will notice their work during the event. If they value their art they obviously value what people think about said art and of them, correct?

The idea is that you will do a good deed and may very well do good for your future at the same time-- two birds with one stone, so to speak. That idea is not exactly something to feel guilty about because you are-- I hope-- donating to a charity that you agree with... and with any luck you will have future success with your work so that it earns more when you donate art in the future, right? Charitable events can be great for making connections.

As for how donating art might help your career... well... who is to say. In other words, don't donate art to a charity if your only goal is to garner fame and fortune. The reality is that you will leave with one less piece and hopefully a burst of warmth in your heart (come on guys, I'm not all bullets!). That said, if you choose to donate for the right reasons it is acceptable-- in my opinion --to hope that maybe someone influential will admire your art beyond the charitable action that you have taken. Also, If you are just starting out and have had few exhibits donating art to charitable events can be a great way to add something to your resume. If you happen to have dozens of paintings, sculptures, what have you, just sitting around... why not donate a few to a charity that you believe in?

To sum this up, the best expectation that you can have is that you will help someone or something in need. Leave your flights of fancy at the door... but keep an eye open for future possibilities.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

I donated one of my paintings. In my community we have a Native American Pow-wow, once a year. It attracts 10,000 people. The Pow-wow office burned down four weeks before the pow-wow event. They lost everything. I created a painting for them, as a gift. Called "They Smoke Dance". I wanted to help them raise money. Because of my kindness, they put an article about me in their brochure. I was able to get a booth to sell my art. Many people that couldn't afford my work were able to purchase a raffle ticket for "They Smoke Dance". During that weekend I sold several paintings. I was great exposure. Im Native American and I believe that everything goes in a circle. Your kindness in donating will be reciprocated.

Martine Birobent said...

Mostly, artists ar poor, very poor. In Canada, it is hard to have an exhibition, and a lot of artists have to go in a bar to show their work.
I feel very offended, because organisations (numerous) ask artists to donate. If the event is big enough to generate a great exposure, why not giving a compensation to the artist ? A small one, just to cover the price of the furnitures ?
Nobody cares about the poor artist.
Why ?
Who help artists ?
It is so easy to ask an artist to give, to donate....
I think this is a lack of respect to ask someone very poor to donate.

Lacey said...

The question should also be asked, "Will donating art hurt my career?"

Oftentimes, these fundraisers are auctions that do not guarantee your piece of art will sell for a given monetary amount. More times than not, unless you are an established artist whose work is highly desirable, your work will sell for less than retail. This degrades the value of your work.

We should educate those holding the auctions about this, and perhaps they will begin to start the bidding at retail. In fact, some charity auctions have started doing this, and I have also seen auctions that offer artists a percentage of the winning bid to help cover materials, etc.

When these auctions are done right, they can be great for your career and for the charity, though you should be donating for the right reasons. Just try to avoid a situation that might hurt your career more than the charity will be helped.

Balhatain said...

Lacey, you make some very good points. I actually helped a gallery raise money for their youth art program by donating art that was donated to me for the cause. So I do have some experience with the process, but not much.

Some of the work was valued over $1,000 and the average piece-- there was over a dozen pieces-- had a retail worth between $100 and $500. However, the bidding on each piece was started very low so in the end the fundraiser only earned a few hundred bucks.

The bad thing is that I don't even know how the money was spent. It seemed that once I donated the work I was pushed back from being involved with the process.

I was amazed that so many artists cared and that they were willing to donate rare print editions and original work... but I was very let down that the auction was handled in the way that it was.

Another issue that should be discuss is the number of charity scams online. For example, I've been emailed about donating work to for different causes, but further investigation reveals that the location of the charity does not exist. There is also a huge problem with fake galleries contacting people about representation. Artists do need to be careful.

Balhatain said...

Wow... typo city. HA!