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What not to say to an Artist

by Adriana Artmeier

There are so many things that we as artists have heard a lot! A lot of these just make it clear that some people don’t value art at all or just don’t understand it which is fine. Art is just not for them but that doesn’t mean they have to rub it in our faces because even though it is obviously not a critique of our skills or creativity it can still be quite demotivating to be asked to do artwork for free for examples so,

Here are some things that you maybe shouldn’t say to your artist.



I never know what people are trying to archive with that sort of comment. Like that is .. very impressive, why didn’t she do it? The exact same thing?

I think that comment is always a mix out of - not valuing the work, jealousy and a bit of ignorance maybe? I’ve even heard that comment a lot during the Christmas season at a Christmas bauble company I work for (I personalise ornaments for 2-3 months during the year in shopping centres) and it is always quite a fun time when they walk past, talk VERY LOUDLY (all over sudden just to make sure you hear the) “Oh, I CAN MAKE THESE MYSELF, THEY’RE SO OVERPRICED”.

And I mean they’re definitely not the cheapest but I’ve been practising for years to get that writing to how it looks now, the baubles are handblown and hand-painted I mean If you got all these skills then that is absolutely amazing but most of the time these customers are the ones that usually come back after they messed up and order one anyway because they realised that It was not quite as easy as they thought it would be.



I am definitely guilty of that one too and I think most people are but most say it in their heads and are actually open to change their mind about it after reading through the meaning, etc.

I found a lot of artwork stupid and that was a lack of education on my side a lot of the time. Even now I look back at artworks that I thought were absolutely bull..pants and some of them actually make sense now and even though it wasn’t my style and more on the conceptual art, I get it.



NO! Absolutely no. Even if that account has thousands of followers, there is no way I am going to say yes and you shouldn’t either.

I’ve heard of so many cases where the artist or small businesses ended up getting ghosted after they had done the work. These people take advantage of naive artists or well just new artists and businesses in general. Even I still get messages like that.

I am currently working on a shark book and the first page was a sketch of a Greenland shark. After I’ve posted it, I got approached by a Greenland shark scientist who found me through Instagram and said that my sketch was the most accurate one to an actual Greenland shark that he has seen so far (which made me incredibly happy as a shark obsessed person). We had a short conversation about sharks and then he said that he would like something like that sketch for some presentations and I was super duper excited and already pictured my artwork getting shown to actual shark scientists (tiny dream of mine) BUT .. BUT THEN .. it happened. I quoted him $200 for the size and the sort of drawing he wanted and he said “Oh, I would share your work and show it to coworkers and potential clients for you so I thought I might be able to get it for free.” I declined and he kept going, I didn’t budge and well, I didn’t get that gig obviously.

I am always a bit flabbergasted when someone asks me if they can get the artwork for free. Does he do his job for free?

I don’t think so, but we as artists actually get this comment a lot and even though it is not a big deal and usually you just go “Nah, sorry but I can’t live on likes and followers”, it makes you think about how many people don’t actually think about how much work goes into it and/or how many people don’t value our sort of work.



The bigger artists that make a couple of thousands per painting and they can actually produce it quite quickly, yes, they do make a lot of money and there is a lot of money, in general, to be made in the art industry but just because one painting is $3k doesn’t mean that the artist that is selling that painting is rich.

This $3k painting might’ve taken that artist 1 month, they might need to pay commission to the gallery and might’ve had to pay money for the space in the gallery and BAM, that $ 3k can turn into minimum hourly wage if you break it all down.

There so many factors that go into the pricing.

You have to consider the materials, the gallery costs, the time that goes into it, insurance, this and that, it is absolutely crazy especially if you consider that some galleries take as much as 60% of the price the artwork is sold as.



I wish! Yes, painting all day does sound quite easy for someone that doesn’t do it but also that is not all that we do. There is a lot of admin and computer work involved like updating inventory, listings, applying for galleries, getting back to clients, social media, marketing, taking track of all the expenses and TAXES and all that fun stuff. I spend probably around 24 hours per week just on the computer editing my website, doing inventory, promoting and more. Even if it would just be painting all day every day, painting, making sculptures, taking photos, whatever it might be, is exhausting. It is exhausting for our brains and body and also to keep up with that pressure today’s society built around us where we always have to create something great and big and meaningful.

Painting every day gets romanticised quite a bit as well, I sit in front of my canvas and paint for 12 hours straight which is exhausting for the body as well.

It is hard work. It is crazy hard.



Art is a real job. One of my teachers once said it to me and I believed him then. Now I know how hard it is and that it is a real job. A job that requires a lot of skill, a lot of intelligence (if you wanna make it work), creativity, hard work and self-motivation.

I’ve taught so many skills to myself whilst running my art business. Skills that are a job by themselves where workers earn $50.000 per year. It is not just one job, it is multiple jobs.



Also an absolute no. I am very happy to get inspired by these works OR paint other artists work for myself as a practice but I won’t copy someone else’s painting and sell it to you for cheaper (which is the exact reason why you ask because the original is probably too expensive for you and you expect me to paint it for you for cheaper)

I would be more than mad if I would see the exact same painting that I came up with just on another artists page.

Don’t get artists to copy another artist, even if they would do it.

A lot of the usual cliche comments are quite funny most of the time but sometimes they can still hit and make you wonder about your own abilities even though most of the time it doesn’t have anything to do with your work directly.


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