Why Buy Direct From The Artist?
There will always be those among us who choose to devalue the role of art in society, but presumably, if you've found this page, you're not one of them! I take the view that art, in its many guises, is a field that is growing in importance in a changing world - a seldom recognised counterbalance to a world increasingly obsessed with the shallow, material and the mundane. Art adds beauty and stimulates a search for meaning and consciousness in a world desperately crying out for greater wisdom. To a society yearning for expressions of greater humanity, art, I believe, goes to the very heart of what it means to be human.
All very ethereal, I know, but, if you think about it, creativity is a central force in our advancement as a species, and, at an individual level, art (be it music, performance, the written/ spoken word or visual art) directly impacts upon our lives in very real ways. Art can inspire and uplift us or bring a tear to the eye. Art can relight old memories or carry us away to wondrous places. Art even impacts on our physiology in tangible, measurable ways. And, of course, art can transform stale, bleak physical spaces into vibrant and exciting (or calming and relaxing) environments. We all need art - it makes us happier, healthier, better people.
Ask any artist, however, and they'll likely tell you that making a living from their profession is no picnic, and there are those among us that feel that it's quite alright to exploit and rip-off creatives - most of whom I've found to be service-oriented, brilliant by any standards, and extremely hard-working (I've personally worked in excess of 80 hour weeks for as long as I can remember). In fact, I'd suggest that exploitation and out-and-out art theft are some of the greatest barriers preventing artists from supporting themselves through their work.
With this in mind, it goes without saying that artists rely heavily on the support of those who appreciate what they do, many of whom would no doubt be disturbed to realise that very little, if any, of the proceeds of their purchase may flow through to the actual artist who created the piece. In fact, in the worst cases, your purchase may be supporting those who steal artists' livelihoods by selling their work without permission.
It's often not possible, of course, to establish whether the seller of an artist's work has the legal right to do so. They may be art thieves who have simply scraped the image from the web, or purchased from an intermediary with a licence that precludes resale (restricting any earnings by the artist to almost nothing). Or, they may be legitimate resellers of the image or print, performing a useful service legitimately marketing and handling logistics for artists and reimbursing the creators of the work fairly for their efforts.
Just how well a legitimate intermediary/ marketplace serves the artist community on who's backs they build their businesses is, of course, for those involved to decide, and my intention isn't to disparage anyone. Suffice to say that it's a variable. For my part, having tried a number of channels, I've had some awful - and very few positive - experiences, and so I choose to sell almost all of my work exclusively through sites that I control, such as this one.
I really hope that this matters to you, because, without your support, the struggles faced by hard-working artists are likely to become insurmountable. But even if the artists' plight is of little concern, here are some other things to consider:
- How comfortable are you buying from a possible thief?
- If the image wasn't developed specifically for fine art printing and legitimately acquired, it is highly unlikely that it meets the technical requirements to print well (eg resolution, file formats, colour profiling etc.).
- In my experience, even if it does meet printing specifications, art designed for fine art printing is designed that way from the outset. The composition, colours, subject matter and, notably, the level of detailing, is conceived with the end goal in mind. When it comes to fine art, one size definitely doesn't fit all. Anything that I've designed for, say, a coffee cup or t-shirt (and I've done plenty of that in years gone by) is very different to a work intended for fine art printing. These aren't superficial differences - in fact, I would typically use different software (and hardware) and entirely different workflows to create a work intended for fine art printing as opposed to graphic design and product art.
- In my experience, preparing an image for printing involves creative decisions that are probably best made by the artist who created the piece, to ensure that the reproduction is true to the original vision (there's definitely a role for professional fine art printers in the process, but the actual work being sent to the printers may best be prepared by/ in close consultation with, the work's creator).
So, how can you be sure that your purchase best serves the artist who's work you admire and boosts your chances of getting a great print in line with their creative vision for the piece? That's up to you, but here's what I like to do, and, as an artist, what I'd appreciate from my customers and followers...
- Reach out directly to the artist, and ask them from which outlet they would prefer that you purchase. Most artists now have strong social media and other online presences, and having appreciative followers get in touch is likely to make their day;
- If you feel that a seller of an artist's work doesn't appear legitimate, most artists would appreciate that you let them know;
- Whenever possible, I avoid purchasing from an outlet that doesn't give clear and unambiguous credit to the artist. Similarly, if the seller of the work doesn't give clear company details and contact information, I look elsewhere.