Commissions, Submissions and Exposure Etc.
by Roy Mackey
I should point out here that the opinions expressed by me here may change without notice. My views and ideas about life are constantly changing as I learn more. There are always two sides to every coin. Sometimes heads makes sense... sometimes tails. Thus it is a good idea to not take too much of what is written here seriously. After all it is only a fleeting opinion.
Commissions, Submissions, Exposure
Beg-a-thons and Other Donations
Supporting Charities... My Solution
Commissions, Submissions, and Exposure
Normally I almost never do commissions though if the project sounds interesting I may be open to it. My problem is I have too many ideas that I want to get done and never seem to have enough time or focus. Not to mention a fear of incompetence and doubt in my abilities to pull off your project. I have heard some commissions though can be fun and worth while but have never actually seen one like that. The truth is though I am a lousy fabricator who never could get directions straight. A lot of people find this hard to grasp after seeing some of the work that I do but it is true. Doing my art is a totally different game. So if you want to commission something then feel free to ask. The worst that could happen is I could forget to get back to you.
The odd time I have been beaten into "Submissions" but found getting the unusual work I do approved by the "committee" to be pretty well fruitless. Thus I have decided not to be beaten into any more "Submissions" from now on. Besides I also do not have the talent to or motivation to work from any point other than pure inspiration. Just the same I wish you the best in your search for artists capable and willing to do that. If your submission involved a piece I had already made out of inspiration then I would definitely be game.
In the past I have almost died from "Exposure" thus no longer am that concerned with seeking out typical "Exposure" venues. If you have an "Exposure" opportunity you would like to share feel free to contact me but the odds of me being up to the challenge are very slim unless of course you are from a medium to very large media company of some sort. I don't do small shop window displays for tourist amusement.
Also in the past I have often been taken for "Granted" but so far have never received a "Grant". I think once again this is partly do to the unusual work that I do. Which seems to make it hard getting it past the deciding "Committee" This is fine though since I feel grants are a bit of a trap to enslave artists and thus keep them into a desperate cycle of poverty. I have been able to do that quite well on my own already.
Beg-a-thons and other donations
I should also point out that I presently am not a fan of pre-gallery or not yet fully established artists like myself donating to Beg-a-thons or as they are more commonly known "Charity Auctions" Taking spare change off a street person to give to the rich so they can research building homeless shelters does not make a lot of sense to me. At least on the part of the street people anyway. The same applies to starving artists. Getting them to donate art they can barely afford to make in order to support charities is no different.
Now I do realize that beg-a-thons are fairly popular but that is partly due to the fact that so many artists out there are desperately "Begging" for "exposure to the rich" They think that one time shot at exposure will put them on easy street. In reality this rarely happens not to mention begging is a poor way to live. And of course we all know too much "exposure" can kill you.
A lot of artists don't realize that the days of a newspaper article or a beg-a-thon launching their art career in one fell swoop are gone, assuming that is, they were ever here. Valuable one time exposure today probably happens the moment Oprah buys one of your artworks. Anything less is more than likely just hot air. Big advertising budgets belong to big companies not starving artists.
Not to mention setting up situations where those with more financial security are forced to "steal" artwork off the poor in order to support a favorite charity is also a bit strange. Those capable enough to put themselves into a position where they can afford to buy art likely don't have to "steal" it, at a fraction of the cost, in order to acquire it. On top of getting a tax credit to boot.
Of course another point is the fact that there is almost zero tax advantage for an artist donating a piece of artwork unlike most think. In fact I avoided declaring one piece of art I donated as it would have actually cost me way more than the deduction I would have got. For an artist It only sounds good on the surface until you clarify it with qualified accountant versed in artist issues.
Up and coming artists cannot afford to nor should they be supporting charities when they cannot afford their own production costs. I like the example our friend Warren Buffet set by doing what he did best... investing. Instead of donating money he invested it and then when he finally did make a donation it was beyond all belief and I believe the all time biggest in US history. He kept re-investing all his "would be" donations. Knowing very well that down the road he could turn all those little "would be" donations into one huge donation that could be big enough to actually make a huge difference.
The same applies to artists. They need to be producing new work and lots of it. Their work is what they are good at. An artist that produces a handful of works and then fades away to sell color tv's is never worth investing in. When an artist tries to gain exposure through giving their art away to charity they are really benefiting no one, other than maybe the person who scored the art cheap. but often not even them because unless the artist can afford to keep producing new work he is not going to go anywhere anyway. If they sold their work and bought more materials they could be producing more work. When they eventually do get their name out there via more appropriate channels then they can consider donating. After all at that point even part proceeds from a sale could be huge in comparison.
You see production is the goose that lays the golden egg for the artist. If you don't feed the goose then it will die and thus no more production. This becomes lose lose for everyone. Especially the person who bought the art cheap as an investment. Not much of an investment if the artist turns to selling Amway before he ever gets his name out there. If you are versed at collecting art or antiques you are likely already aware that rarity does not establish value. Demand does. if an artist has not produced enough work or "name" for himself the work will be worth nothing. Think Picasso.... fairly prolific and for a long time. Would you trade your rare, one only, high quality Joe Schmoe painting for a way more common Picasso? My guess is yes.... at least dollar wise.
If you doubt any of this reasoning then you may want to track down and listen to Warrens reasoning on why he refrained from donating in his earlier years. After all he is a lot smarter than I am. I believe his donation was in the range of 30 billion give or take. From what I understand, low income critics with their own limited vision and understanding had a heyday with his apparently cheapo attitude. Thankfully though he did not respond to their lack of long term reasoning.
One point I should make here and that is the above only applies to those like artists, investors, business people etc. Different rules apply to those on fixed incomes from a job, pension or whatever. On fixed incomes small donations with regularity do have huge value to any charity. But even then you have to know your limits. If you over-donated to a charity and then lost your job because you could not afford to fix your car what long range good would you be gaining for the charity? None... or at least not near as much as you could have had you donated smaller amounts and were able afford keeping your car running and thus your job. Over donating in this case would be considered a fool hardy move by almost everyone... yet charitable societies and some art buyers expect / hope already starving artists will do this "fool hardy" behavior all the time. Now I am not the smartest cat around but I am pretty sure this does not make a lot of sense. Thus....
My two bit cheapo solution...
As a pre-gallery artist who bumps into compassion on very rare occasions I have now had to come up with my own way to support charities. After some contemplation I have come up with a solution that I feel benefits everyone involved. I will be donating anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of all art sales made directly by me to the charity of your choice. How this works is you just need to give me a check for the percentage that will be donated in the form of a certified check or money order made payable to your favorite charity. Plus a check for the remaining percent plus tax payable to me. Basically I am giving you up to thirty percent off the price for supporting your favorite charity. Thus you get to feel great about helping out and I get to maintain my cold and blood thirsty image.
If you only have one check and very little time then you can pay me in full and I will then donate the 10 to 25 percent to the charity of my choice and send you confirmation. It is a bit less but actually costs me a little more because of increased income and taxes. This helps to give charities the support most desperately need. Which of course makes our world a better place. This does not count any sales done through my dealers or galleries I have or may have at the time.
This option helps everyone win.
First and most obvious is the charity. They do a lot of work that makes life in our county a lot better than we realize. You may think they don't do much to make your life better but not true. Things like helping an addict get back on his feet means that addict won't be breaking into your car some night or day for that matter.
Second is you. Sure you may pay a little more initially but there are huge advantages. If the charity gives you a tax deductible receipt then you can save on your income taxes. If you are buying the art via your business then you can write off the art purchase as a business expense also. Buying art for your business is like getting the government to help you buy something that enhances your business at the same time having the potential to be a great investment. After all if you did not have the art to write-off you would have to give them a lot more money at tax time than you would have had to. Sure if the artwork goes way up in value then you may have to pay some capital gains but who cares. Capital gains just mean you made money on the investment! Needless to say buying art is a pretty dam good deal for you.
Third of course is myself. Your purchase enables me to maintain or even increase my production of these unusual works. Which, as you now know if you read the above on Beg-a-thons, is vital. Especially if you want your art purchase / investment to increase in value and demand. After all unless I produce a lot of work and keep up that production the odds of the art as a good investment is not near as good. After all a prolific artist is often a committed artist. Both are as vital to success as talent is. A prime example is Picasso or maybe Hirst. Though they both have unusual talent they also produced a lot of work.
IMPORTANT FINAL NOTE:
I just have to say here that even though a lot of this may make sense it does not necessarily mean I would not donate a piece of artwork to a charity. Hell I come up with or stumble across bullshit theories like this all the time. After all these years I no longer believe half of what I think or come up with. And even when I do it is rarely for long before I come up with a new theory that takes it's place. Thus you are welcome to take me seriously if you want but fine if you don't. If you are a charity and would like a me to donate something I would say it could be worth your while to at least check. Depending on my mood, the stars, the feng shui in our studio, time of year, blood sugar, my bank balance and caffeine levels I might just end up popping you something for your cause. Either that or send me you charities info. If someone buys a piece and wants me to direct the 30%, then your charity could be the place. Just a thought.
Not sure if you knew this or not but Hitler wanted to be an artist... even booked in for some big time art school. Did you ever see any of his paintings? Me neither. Anyway I am guessing but starvation probably got the best of him.... too bad actually. Something to think about next time you buy a painting for... too... cheap.
My One Commission
Here is my most recent and I think only commission I have ever done. This one was for Mr. Jack Leshgold. Mr. Leshgold obviously has vision and taste for original art. This piece was slated for one of his buildings. Three of the hammers are similar to previous ones I have done. Two of these are originals. I hope to get the installed photo sometime soon.
Here is a pic of one piece that I sold to Mr. Jack Leshgold for one of his many buildings.
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