In her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” She encourages women, whether they are in the workplace or at home, to “lean in” to their potential rather than sitting back and accepting unfavorable situations.
I’m asking you to speak up.
Here is the first of the no-excuse self-promotion principles in my book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio:
You are in charge. You have control over words, prices, artwork, and your image.
People will take as much power from you as you give them. Guard your power carefully. Accept 100% responsibility for your actions and make no excuses.
Artists often feel like everyone else has the power. You have to remember that people have only as much power over you as you give them. [tweet this]
I continue to hear about artists giving away their power. See if any of these situations sound familiar . . .
1. Art consultants who want to buy your work at wholesale prices, and then turn around and triple the price.
This is unacceptable. Art consultants who do this are taking advantage of you by hijacking your pricing structure.
Unless you can make a living through a single art consultant, run the other way.
2. Gallerists who try to negotiate lopsided deals in their favor.
Gallerists might try to lock you in to unreasonable exclusivity within a region.
They might ask you to pay for things that should be their responsibility (such as mailing or reception costs) or, worse, a pay-to-show fee.
3. Venues that hire you to teach, but won’t pay your going rate because “it’s our policy to pay just $X per class.”
Everything is negotiable. I’d rather see you run your own classes and workshops than cave to a rate beneath your standards.
4. Exhibitions or situations that promise exposure to new audiences and really just want cheap art.
Some opportunities do provide terrific exposure, but I’m still skeptical about the value of Community Supported Art (CSAs) programs. If you have had future sales at your full price from participating in a CSA, I’d love to be proven wrong.
Too many people now expect inexpensive art, and it’s hurting artists’ abilities to earn a living. They will continue to do so until more artists take a stand.
5. Art Organizations asking for art donations without any remuneration, even though U.S. artists cannot deduct the value of their art for tax purposes.
Many organizations don’t understand the ramifications of asking you for a donation. We forgive them. But art organizations, which exist on the backs of artists, should know better.
Our responsibility is to educate them as we set boundaries.
I encourage you to voice your dissatisfaction publicly with any situation that derails artists’ abilities to earn a fair wage or demeans the market value of the work.