Friday, October 5, 2007

Donating Artwork

Mineral Rights - donated to Palmer Museum's fundraising Gala

The more I read blogs, articles, and any other artist information, the more confused I become about whether or not to donate art.

Why not:
- It makes an artist look bad just to give away art.
- It will not actually give the artist any exposure.
- The buying public will see a discounted price on the art and assume the rest of the artist’s work should be just as cheap.

These seem to be the main three reasons. They are all good reasons. But in the end, the artist must ask themselves if they should donate for each separate request.

Last year I donated two pieces. This year, I will probably donate three pieces. I will (hopefully) refuse any more requests after that.

The first request last year was from the Greater Richmond (Virginia) Meals on Wheels program. The president of that organization is a very good friend. His good friends are volunteers and it is a great program. I donated to help a friend and to do a little bit of good. From what I remember, the fundraiser is a wine and food tasting and an art auction. The second request was from a former gallery owner who showed and sold a great deal of my work. It was to benefit Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art. The museum has great special exhibits and in the cultural desert of Central Pennsylvania, it is an oasis. This year I have volunteered to add the Clearwater Conservancy, a local natural resource conservation organization. It is a group I believe in to do good things. They have an annual chocolate fest and art auction.

Donating artwork will give me minimal exposure. One or two people out of a room of 200 people might actually look at my work and remember my name. I do not expect any exposure.

I feel I look pretty good donating to these causes. I live in a fairly small, but culturally and economically upscale area. A few people who see my work will remember my name. These few people are important, though. The vast majority of the people who see my art will not bother to make a bid on it, they will probably not even look at it. Therefore, how can I diminish my name when only a handful of people, local ones at that, will even see my name attached to my artwork? The majority of people are cheap (how else does Wal-mart survive). The majority of people want to buy art cheaply. Whether I ask $20,000 or $20, the majority of buyers would rather pay $20. The majority of art buyers will NEVER know that someone purchased a $200 Kim Hambric original for $95.00.

Reasons I donate:

- A person I like and respect asks me to (hopefully they feel the same about me). I can give up a small piece.
- I like the cause.
- It makes me feel good to donate.
- Someone who needs the money benefits.
- Someone out there will connect with my artwork. Hopefully they will hang it on their wall, have a dinner party, tell the story of getting a great deal on a beautiful piece, tell their friends who the great artist is, pass along my name, the interested people will google my name, locate my website, and buy a piece of their own. Much in the same way that a person who purchases a piece for the full retail price will hang it on their wall, have a dinner party, tell the story of finding a great artist, tell their friends who the great artist is, pass along my name, the interested people will google my name, locate my website, and buy a piece of their own.

I am curious about what other artists think.

1 comment:

self taught artist said...

I think it is no different than giving someone a gift. If you give out of pure joy and nothing else, hoping not to get anything from it but your own satisfaction for having given, then give away.
If you believe in a cause or a person enough to do that than enjoy!
When an artist gives for any other reason it probably isn't clean and healthy, and they will set themselves up for disappointed or resentment. I've experienced both.