I've left a long term relationship. It's over. Our goals didn't match anymore. A long term relationship should have mutual respect, a common purpose, and trust, especially trust. I've left the art gallery that has shown my work since 2001.
Sunday John and I brought all my paintings home.
In September I wrote a blog post about the people from "Detroit 1-8-7" choosing one of my paintings to use on the show. There were a couple things I didn't mention on the post. Like when I signed the release form I asked the gallery owner if we were being paid. Her startled response was something like, "Oh, umm, oh, well, I guess I'll have to ask them".
Well, that bothered me, so I had a conversation about it with Google when I got home.
Google's response was confirmed a week later when I went to see a show at a gallery in downtown Detroit. I happily told the gallery managers that a tv show was going to use one of my paintings. They told me that movie and tv people had been renting art from them too. RENTING. Renting for 20% of the value of the art for a week.
It took me several weeks of stewing before going back to the gallery to have a little chat with the gallery owner. I'm a mild mannered Democrat, I don't yell at people, I'm not fond of confrontation. Also I had to decide if I really wanted to leave the gallery. Where would I go? Would I feel rudderless, homeless, lost.
It turns out that, yes, the gallery owner is making 20% on the art rentals. She asked the tv people if she had to share the money with her artists. They said it was her choice. She's choosing not to.
I acknowledge here that keeping a gallery open is expensive. 50/50 sharing of sales has always seemed fair to me. She has to make a living too.
And after all, it involved a lot of work for her, she told me she spent two hours on paperwork and packing the selection of art they took (I think it was seven pieces from different artists). I mentioned that my 48" x 48" painting took 30 hours to paint. The painting's value is $3000, 20% of that is $600. So for her 2 hours of packing and paperwork, that's $300 per hour. That's just from my piece. What about the other artists?
She said I get exposure if my work is on the tv show. Hmmm. There isn't a sign over the art saying Lynn did this. There isn't a credit line at the end of the show that says, "Painting in the dining room by Lynn Arbor". Also they may rent art work, place it on the set, but it doesn't necessarily ever show up on screen. The gallery owner still gets paid.
I also found out that no other artist has questioned being paid, or so she said.
Maybe because I spent 25 years of my life making art for a living, I'm used to getting paid. When I was a graphic designer I did the work, wrote a bill, then someone wrote a check.
Of course, there was the time that I designed a brochure for a woman who grew orchids. She didn't like the design. Said her son the printer could do a much better, more creative, more professional job. When I got up to leave (taking my design) she said, "You can leave the design." Yeah, right.
It seems that some people think that if you love doing the work you do (especially artists, singers, musicians) that your reward is in the pleasure you get in doing it. You don't really need to get paid.
If my brain surgeon loves cutting into heads, no one questions that he should be paid. Wait a minute. I don't have a brain surgeon, but you get my point. If someone wants to use your art, you should get paid. It's not brain surgery, but it counts.