In which I replace the word ‘dealer’ with ‘pimp’ and the word ‘artist’ with ‘artstitute’.

So here’s the thing. I’ve never had any commercial representation (well, DUR like I haven’t mentioned that about a zillion times before but stay with me…) and to be honest I have, for some time been terrified of it. My time ensconced in a happy studio collective a few years back was both fun and educational but I was pretty exclusively surrounded by artists who were and are taken pretty seriously in both the art community and the marketplace, who made some (if not mucho) income off their practice and to a man seemed to be full of resentful stories about the wrongdoings of their dealers.

While once it had seemed to me that the logical way to make a living as an artist was to match-make yourself with the right dealer and if your primary practice didn’t seem to have a market, develop a sideline, once I had vicariously lived-through-my-studio-neighbours, I instead saw this path as a trap. A trap I figured I was smart enough to avoid.

However here I now sit a) having failed at art teaching b) having failed at arts admin and worst of all c) with sketchbooks, notepads and odd dusty back rooms of my brain piled high with unmade works that have not had the equipment, time or money to be realised (those good ol’ art-related jobs that keep your toe in the industry are, to be fair, immensely valuable for the experience and knowledge gained within, but the pay is beyond shite and the demands on both you and your time stretch way beyond the boundaries of your employ). This means my art practice has a particularly slow burn and what’s more I seem to be skint.

So what’s the next step? Well, monkeys and squeaky pigs are pretty cute but for whatever reason (honesty, practicality, plain old snobbery…?) I don’t view them as a part of my practice. Sure, I hope to find a place to sell them because I really need some cash (hey, the brain assisting naturopathic supplements I’ve come to rely on aren’t free you know… ) but they are pretty much without philosophy or concept. A product. A simple toy. And what I imagine I will be able to charge for them actually leaves me on less than minimum wage for their production anyway, to tell the truth.

But I know I could make ART that sells. I have a good eye for trends, memes and waves of ‘taste’ and if I knew I had an art pimp ready to take stuff on I could be churning that art out. I don’t mean to be facetious of course, I really couldn’t make things that I didn’t at least like myself, but at the moment I could quite happily pass myself over to life as an arts-titute. I know there are artist acquaintances of mine who think I am nuts in that I never expect to make a buck out of what I do… but am I just fooling myself if I believe otherwise?

I ask you my tiny readership – how do you get pimped? Are disgruntled complaints about the pimp system justified or just a bit of a whinge? Would the artist-neighbours I once had really have been better off without the pimps? Is it really so predictably naff as you being ‘discovered’ by someone? How does the whole pimp-deal work? I mean I know the general going percentages for the art-pimps cut, but are they pimping you, day in, day out and occasionally advising ‘we’re running low on art, can you please do some more pitchers?’ or do they only go a-selling when you are the feature of the week in your bi-annual, just-me exhibition? So many questions because I am so naive about this whole system… I’m not joking… I just don’t know.

My artwork is one of the rare things in my life I have very few doubts about. I stand by it. I have received a lot of great positive feedback about it lately, both here and by email and so I am really interested in the lack of response here to my monkey-product (as opposed to the capital A – ART). You are small but usually so regular, Readership… are you telling me by your silence to screw the product, just make the art?

If so dear Readership, could you please do me a favour? Unlurk and give me a piece of your mind. Also, tell me your experiences (and those of others you may have) of the dealer/artist (I still rather like pimp and artstitute as terminology though but let’s be clear…)relationship in the comments. No names please. Let’s play nice. Informative but nice.

And now I’ll go ‘cause speaking of art I have a fantasy of a creeping cat-fungus that I want to realise…

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4 thoughts on “In which I replace the word ‘dealer’ with ‘pimp’ and the word ‘artist’ with ‘artstitute’.

  1. I don’t really have that much to add but this:

    I don’t consider the stuff I sell-for-money to be part of my “practice” at all and this causes me much consternation. I think it’s because I want to be seen as a “serious artist” (yes, I am THAT much of a wanker) and not as someone who makes fripperies such as crafty nice things for ones body or house.

    However, my ridiculous standards don’t apply to other people.

    Weird.

    It really concerns me, particularly as I have just started working in arts admin to supplement my meager income from both “fripperies” and “real art”, that I never seem to have enough time to do even one facet of my greater practice (including the fripperies) let alone all the other stuff I would like to do (le sigh) and I worry that I’m just working myself into circles (work, art, travel repeat); which upon writing doesn’t sound that bad but I would like to feel like I am working towards something. Onwards and upwards.

    -P

  2. do it

    go on, make the monkeys, sell the wares. do it for the cash, but also the fun of providing joy to someone else. so what if you dont see it as part of your art practice. doesnt mean its less important work to somebody else, even if it is classed as a toy. i have alot of ‘toys’ that i treasure as pure artworks. indeedy this is true. please make them. they are beautiful. if i wandered into a shop i would happily purchase one. especially if i knew it came from a great artist. which you are. no matter how hard you try to hide it. it may lead you on great journeys…..

  3. Yeah P I know what you’re saying – I’m really not judgemental about how others support themselves, well… actually I’m not even that judgemental about my own funny little toys I guess… I think they’re pretty cute…

    I just think about my first love of making images (some that move, some that don’t)and how – let’s be frank about this – much more lucrative I imagine that could be. And I wonder how you enter that world. And I wonder if it’s good in there.

    I know no-one buys art by the kilo but I know that people are (or at least I am) prepared to pay more for art than for a toy.

    I guess basically I imagine that if I could crack that scene – I would make more money for my time, I would be more satisfied with my endeavours and life would be strangely much simpler.

    I AM an artist (I really don’t know about great… too early to tell yet but thanks for the vote of confidence, Anon.) and I truly believe it’s the best thing I can do. I know it’s hard and that all of us are fighting the same battle to balance our ‘calling’ with the realities of existence, paying rent or mortgage and bills…

    But there’s this one avenue of possibility, that of the artist with a MARKET that seems to have eluded me, and I wonder if I had good reason to be scared of it in the first place or if it could just be the thing that saves my arse…

    Keep those thoughts coming… particularly about the commercial life if you have anything to add…

  4. I know there are artist acquaintances of mine who think I am nuts in that I never expect to make a buck out of what I do… but am I just fooling myself if I believe otherwise? I think perhaps.

    I ask you my tiny readership – how do you get pimped? I don’t have much experience here (as an artist) I hope to and will.

    Are disgruntled complaints about the pimp system justified or just a bit of a whinge? Both. There’s truth in it so it becomes a unison chorus which connects and separates and artists love this. It validates and some of those pimps are just serious money lovers.

    Would the artist-neighbours I once had really have been better off without the pimps? Totally a case by case thing. Parr has his pimps.

    How does the whole pimp-deal work? You know how it works but how would it work for you. So hard with video……. It’s always a two way relationship and I know alot of people benefiting alot from it.

    are you telling me by your silence to screw the product, just make the art?
    I’d create another self and start a product line to make an income from. And it is what I do. I have heaps to share when it comes to this. I think you should revere your name and its reputation in the art world and keep the worlds separate. Tilda Swinton makes dolls for her local craft place in Scotland. Why not try it? Stores just expect consistency of product so you have to be prepared for the making side. But it becomes routine after a while and a good thing. But more than this, make art. Sally Rees makes really good art AND she believes in it. Powerful.

    I hope this gives you something.

    “Power pussy power pussy, here we come here we come……..”

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