Once again I have been approached to give one of my prints to yet another very good cause. On the one hand I feel I should be happy to help. On the other I can't help feeling that the vast majority of artists are not exactly flush, it's really tough making a living from one's art. Why should I be giving work away, for nothing, when quite often the item being donated is picked up at some big charity do, for a song, paid for by people who have a pound or two or three to spare. AM I being a bit of scrooge?
Artists seem to get inundated with requests (or the ones I know do) and so now I take a slightly more hard nosed attitude towards it using the following principles:
- Is it a charity I support anyway? In which case I might give a donation no strings attached).
- What's in it for me? (Sounds awful doesn't it but I have to use some criteria).
- What kind of an event is it anyway?
- Who is being invited?
- How and where is the event being promoted? (TV, radio, press, printed catalogue?)
- Will there be a printed catalogue in which my image gets accredited and my contact details/website can be easily referenced)?
- If the item is being auctioned can I put a guide/reserve price on it? (Is it really good for one's reputation for a piece that one might normally sell for hundreds go for less than fifty quid?)
- Can I have a percentage of the sale price (enough to pay the cost of the frame) so I cover my costs like framing?
A couple of Christmas's ago I took part in a Christmas Charity Auction which was an excellent example of all the above. Christian Aid asked me to donate an original framed print. I had just come back from South Africa and I wanted to support the excellent work this charity does in Africa. They selected 5 artists images from the pictures donated of which one was mine. These were reproduced as a set of greetings cards which could be sold to raise funds for the charity and each card carried a biography of the artist whose picture was on the card.
There was also a professionally produced colour catalogue for all the work that had been donated. Each piece had a guide price so that the work did not go from ridiculously low prices which at the end of the day meant the charity also got more money because people might be bagging a bargain but not a stupid price bargain and in fact some work went for well over the asking price. Every artist was offered a percentage of the price of the work sold which they could choose to add to their donation or not as we saw fit or (were able to afford to give).
The night was a roaring success. Christian Aid raised a sizeable amount of money, the artists covered their costs and some of us got interested customers who knew where to find our work again and everyone was happy. That's the way to make it win win for all parties!