Thursday, August 5, 2010

Artists Work for Free... Series one: Donating Artwork

For some reason if you are an artist you are expected to work for free.  I have experienced this first hand as I am sure many of you out there have.  The problem is multifaceted and it is really up to artists to make the change, through awareness and action. One dilemma is that there are lots of artists that want their work to be seen and they don't know what they should expect in return. A particularly perplexing scenario that is quite abundant in the art world is that which happens with the "donation piece."  Are you constantly being hit up to donate artwork to charity in return for exposure?  Well guess what- you are doing yourself a disservice if you buy into this promise.  If you feel like donating a work because you love the cause, then so be it, but if you are looking to expand sales-- look somewhere else.  Most artists can only write off the materials used in making the artwork, unlike business that can write off the whole amount donations.  That means you are working for free.  I do not believe in artists working for free.  A good model is to ask that 20- 50% of any sales resulting from your work come directly back to you.  YES you should get money back, you know why, because you don't work for free, and you can not write off your art.  If the charity organization does not want to give you a percentage then so be it, tell them no.  If you do happen to make a deal with the charity make sure that you name appears in EVERY spot that all other donors names appear.  When it comes to your artwork you have every right to demand what is fair, and stand up for yourself.

Sonia Semone

Response from Cody
Yeah, I agree with that..Ive never donated art..I have to make a living first..when I get to a spot where I have old work laying around and Im asked to donate then I might. Dont ever expect to make money doing it..people that want art go to a gallery. I get lots of businesses asking me to hang work in there offices and stuff too..."we have lots of wealthy clients that might buy your art" . Nope..number one they are not going to sell it to anyone and two they just need art and want to use you for that purpose. :)
Thats my take on it!

Cody Hooper


  1. I don't paint to make a living. I paint because I am compelled to. If I sell a piece in the marketplace or donate one to a good cause, so be it.

  2. I donate art a lot. I have no attachment to my older work and I have a ton of it. Why would I want it to set in my extra bedroom and garage if it could be out there being enjoyed by others. To sell and even donating art is a full time job, a job I am not interested in. I make art rather it sells, it is being donate or sitting in storage. :)

  3. Nice to hear your perspective. There are many artists that do sell work, and that is their job. As stated in the article, if you feel like donating-- do it! If you are donating to generate sales, then you are in for a disappointment.