Asking an Artist for a "Discount" or "Hookup" is an Insult
*** Disclaimer! This article is to advocate that artists SHOULD be able to make a living strictly from their art. Yes, art is our passion and we can't go without making it, but that doesn't mean we want to work 2 other jobs to survive. ***
Moving along. For all the friends that have asked me for a discount or "hookup" on my art - I still love you! No, really I do - because in the end, you guys are my biggest supporters.
But here is why you should think twice before asking any artist if you can pay less than the price set, and some advice on what you can do instead.
This is what I hear when you ask for a discount...
When you ask me for a discount on something I created with my hands, you're basically telling me, "I like it, but it's not all that good. It's not worth me paying the full price because something is wrong with it."
It has absolutely nothing to do with the money you have in your bank account or wallet.
I'm not a factory.
But if I were to think of myself as a factory, let me clarify that the machines creating each piece of artwork are my hands, my intellect, my creativity, my originality, my vision and my heart.
I am NOT made of steel, housed in a huge building, operated by buttons that are pushed by a number of people, with the ability to produce a million copies of one thing.
Everything I create takes time, energy, care and attention to detail. Once I create something, I can never reproduce it to exactness with my hands. So when you buy original art from me, you are indeed purchasing something that does not exist anywhere else, and cannot be replicated by anyone, not even myself.
I empty my pockets in order to make art.
Believe it or not, canvases, paper, drawing utensils, paint, brushes, cleaning supplies, and my studio space, just to name a few, are not magically dropped in my lap with a note saying, "do something with this."
Nope. I actually have to spend my money on all of those things!
So let's put things in this perspective: I create art because I love it. It's an urge I have. So, I purchase these supplies and accommodations in order to create the things that I want and need to create. Then, all I can do is HOPE that someone will buy my art, so that I'll get money back and can spend that money on more art supplies (and of course food and other things that help me survive so I can continue to make art.) But let me tell you, I have a lot of art in my studio that has not been sold. So if you can imagine my art as a product of a loan I took out from myself, you can bet I've acquired quite some debt!
Art is worth more than your shoes.
I'm just using shoes as an example, but you can apply the idea to many things you purchase. It aggravates me when you can throw down $100 or more on one pair of shoes that will eventually get dirty, scuffed up, or go out of style, but you want a "hookup" on something that can last a lifetime (if you're careful with it). Art can be appreciated for decades upon decades and can be passed on from generation to generation. Sometimes, the value of artwork even increases!!! You can't really say that for the Jordans or Jimmy Choos, can you?
I get it - money is tight.
You may genuinely be broke, but still want to support your favorite artist. I understand. I'm usually broke too. So here are some alternative ways of thinking if you are really digging someone's art.
- Consider trade. If you have something other than money to offer the artist, there's no harm in asking. Like I mentioned, I'm usually broke, so I may never have enough money to get my hair dyed, or buy nice furniture, or get that tattoo I really want. But if you have a skill or access to something that you think the artist might be interested in, ask them what would be a fair trade. Perhaps you build furniture and can build the artist a flat-file for them to store their drawings? Or maybe you're a tattoo artist and can offer them a tattoo of equal value. Are you a graphic designer? Well, artists need business cards - lots of them! Even if you're an artist yourself - I may be a huge fan of your work. Let's trade art! Just think outside of the box, but be fair. Don't offer them a copy of the book you just published that costs $15 to buy, but you want an original painting that costs $150.
- Put it on your wishlist. Is your birthday coming up? Did your parents just ask what you want for Christmas? Well, if you've been eyeing a piece of art, there's no harm in asking your family or loved ones to get it for you as a gift! And I'm sure they'll feel a lot better about giving you some art you really want, versus a gift card.
- Buy it in good faith. Chances are, if you support your friend/the artist by buying their art, they'll turn around and support you when you need it.
- Buy a print (a generated copy), instead. If you don't have the money to buy the real thing and have nothing to offer for trade, consider buying a print (if it's 2-dimensional art). Ask the artist if prints are available, as they will be far cheaper than the original. Just remember, we (the artists) still have to pay for production costs to have the print made of our art. For an 8x10 inch print, it may cost the artist $15 to order plus shipping costs. In order for us to make profit, we have to bump that price up. So don't ask for a discount on a print either, because we are likely already losing half of our asking price.
You must respect the value of art.
If after reading this, you still feel entitled to ask for a discount or "hookup," it means you do not fully understand the value of art.
And if you do not understand and respect the value art, it likely means you won't care for the artwork properly anyway. So don't bother wasting your money or the artists time and just enjoy the art from afar.
There will be times when artists decide on their own to offer their art at a lower price, and that could be an ideal time for you to buy it. Take the opportunity, but still remember that just because you paid less, doesn't mean the art is of less value.