I know a lot of you have been seeing memes like this running around social medias… but has anyone ever stopped to tell you why these things are offensive?
I guess now is the time. Buckle up. This is a long read.
Just for the record, I am writing this article in reference to “you.” This is not directed to you, as the reader, on a personal level. This is a general you that is directed at the entire population of humanity.
- I’ll just get my friend to make me one, instead.
This one seems pretty self explanatory… This is offensive because you have now told the artist that their time is not worth your money. However, if you have a friend who can do it for you cheaper, then by all means, go after it! But don’t actually tell this to another artist… it’s rude.
- You know what you should make?…
This one is walking the line between helpful and rude. Usually, artists have a LONG list of things they are in the process of creating. We don’t just work on a whim. Sometimes, artists will ask for community input! This is where you will shine! Look for those instead of giving unsolicited advice on future works.
- Can I get a deal if I buy two?
If an artist has a deal going on, then take advantage of it. Don’t put them on the spot by asking for deals. You wouldn’t do that at Target, would you? You wouldn’t? Then you just put Target above this artist. Shame on you. Just go to Target.
- I can make that myself.
That is great! Being proud of what you can do is awesome, but do not use another artist or crafter to build yourself up. Or were you trying to put the artist down? You just admitted you found yourself to be lesser than the artist. Get a hobby.
- Why does it cost so much?
Art costs so much because of the time and material put into it. This should be common sense. Artists don’t just put marks on paper/canvas. They pour their souls into that work. They devote themselves to the time needed to create it to their version of perfection. That should be respected.
- How did you make that?
This one is tricky… It is good to be inquisitive, but most artists won’t just give up their secrets that easily. Well, not on a spur-of-the-moment question, anyway. You want to honestly know how they made this? Practice. Patience. And devotion. That’s it.
- Will you donate your work? I can’t pay you, but it will be great exposure!
I can’t express just how much I despise this one. This one reaches me on a personal level. Art is work. Work. IT IS WORK. Someone who wants to donate their work should do it on their own accord, just like every other work. An artist who donates art has my respect! Don’t get me wrong. But don’t nag an artist with exposure… exposure doesn’t pay the rent.
- My 9 year old makes this kind of stuff, too!
Seriously… this is just rude. It is awesome that your kid does good work. But don’t compare an artist to a child. That is just inappropriate in any circumstance.
- Kids, this is what happens when you don’t go to college.
Kids, if you go to college and learn how to manage your finances (maths), word usage (languages), art history, and advertising capabilities, art can take you to the moon and back! Go to college and turn yourself into a master! Don’t listen to these people who think artists are bums. We aren’t.
- I can get this at Walmart for $3.99.
Then, go to Walmart.
The questions don’t seem like they should be that offensive. I get it. It’s just a question. However, these questions are asked over and over and over… they are like a broken record. After a while, artists get tired of these questions. I mean, we are people, just like you…
Every great now and then, we will snap and say something snotty to one of these questions. And in all honesty, you shouldn’t take it personally. It isn’t YOU that we are tired of hearing, it is these same questions repeated over and over. Like nails on a chalk board.
There are plenty of alternatives to these questions. If you have a favorite artist, get to know them. Hell, one day, this very artist can become your mentor and teach you everything they know! But don’t just come at them like they owe something. That is where everything will go downhill.
You can ask an artist about prices. Please, ask about prices. However, if you can’t afford it at the moment, either save up to purchase, or find an artist that meets your finances. DO NOT ask the artist to cut you a deal. If you wait, a lot of artists will have sales and the such. Not to mention, that if you cannot afford an original piece, most will have prints available. Those are MUCH less expensive than originals. Ask about them.
When you want to try to compare yourself to another artist, you can ask them if they would like to see your work. Be open to critiques, though. This is one of those unwritten rules when showing work. You will get critiques. You can’t stop that. And if a professional artist gives you critiques, take them, use them, and better your skills. Don’t take it personal. This also goes for showing your kid’s work, too. This does not fall under unsolicited advice, since you are directly showing this work to a professional in a professional setting (whether it is in their studio, a gallery, a convention, or even facebook).
The main thing about this whole situation is to think before you speak. Remember that artists are people. They have emotions, just like everyone else. They will snap sometimes. Treat other people as you would like to be treated and keep the rude comments to yourself. Or at least wait until you are in the midst of your own friends to complain…
Now go out and enjoy some artwork!