As the excitement for my first ever solo show in London builds, I’ve found myself talking incessantly about the exhibition and all of the preparations surrounding it. Today at work, I was asked by my colleagues about the sale of my paintings, and a rather troubling idea surfaced.
When you’re invited to a friend’s art show, do you feel obliged to buy something?
It had never occurred to me that people might think this when deciding to come along to an exhibition. One of my colleagues said he and a group of friends went to see a solo show hosted by an artist they all knew very well. As they stood contemplating the art, they all began to furtively ask each other if someone was going to buy something. The artist was selling paintings at a price well above their budget, but certainly not above the value of her work. My work colleague said they all felt obliged to buy something because they’d gone to see the show and support their friend, but all they could afford were the postcards!
So this leaves me wondering… do most people feel like this when they go to a friend’s exhibition? When you go to see a friend’s art show, does anyone expect you to make a purchase? I think my favourite response to this question was from my friend Pam, who said “Well, it’s not like going to a Tupperware party, is it?”
For me, the simple fact that people have shown up to view the work is support enough. I’d never expect anyone to come along and actually BUY anything!
I suppose this is because of my reasons for producing art. I don’t make art to make money. Sure, if I made a sale on a work, it would be a massive help in funding more creativity, but in truth I paint for two reasons, both of which will probably sound cheesier than the Elvis Presley portrait created entirely from Cheetos cheese puffs – I kid you not: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXigfZGqsLM The fact is, I paint because I love doing it and because I have this inexplicable urge to communicate something to others, whether it’s the beauty I see in the surface of an insect wing, or the bleak story of another species being eradicated from our planet.
The fact that people are willing to exchange money for art is something of a bonus. Don’t get me wrong – I completely understand why it’s important for artists to be valued in monetary terms as well as aesthetic, spiritual and philosophical ones. And naturally there are numerous degrees of value across all of these spheres, all according to individual and societal taste.
In our capitalist, commercial, cash-focused culture, an obvious way to show appreciation of anything is to wave the moolah around.
I think people sometimes need to be reminded that giving time is a much stronger way of acknowledging someone else’s endeavours. I have a lot of respect for people who make the time to come and take a look at anyone’s creative efforts. These people don’t even have to like the art they’ve come to see; to be moved by the work, whether positively or negatively, is the important thing. Art should alter someone’s perception of the world, whether as a subtle shift of perspective or a mind-blowing realisation of something new. It’s enough for me that someone has walked away from one of my paintings with a question on their mind (even if it’s “Why the hell did he bother?” lol)
Time is precious. Time given is a generous gift indeed, and something that should be appreciated. And so I’ll end with the somewhat obvious quote of entrepreneur Jim Rohn: “Time is more valuable than money: You can get more money but you can’t get more time”.
“Hidden Dragons” opens 18.30 July 17th 2014 at /i’klectik/ art lab & cafe; nearest Tube stations: Waterloo/Lambeth North
Art Workshop for 6-11 year olds on Sunday 20th July 10.30-12.30
Artist talk: 18.30 Thursday 24th July 2014
Closing show: 18.30 Thursday 31st July 2014