I seem to get regular e-mails from start up online galleries. They usually begin with something like “you have been selected by us to…” or “we saw your work online and would like to invite you…”. What then follows is an exhortation of the benefits of being ‘a part of’ their new online gallery; for an annual fee. They frequently mention their partnerships with non-specific buyers, and carry testimonials of all the sales a particular artist had previously failed to dream of, with no mention of whether they were charging professional prices.
Six months later the site is composed of a thousand pages of thumbnail images showing mostly second rate and sometimes downright awful paintings and drawings.
I have no problem at all with someone running an online gallery, but I am getting fed up with the wave of disappointment when I realise that I haven’t been selected, or chosen, but ‘sourced’ from a list. No-one has looked at my work, and if they have, it was purely to assess me as a potential customer. I don’t like being lied to, and I resent being told the aim of their site is to bring artists and buyers together when in fact they make their money from the annual fees the aspiring artists pay. The artists are the customers here, so why not be honest about it? The only answer is that they make their money from flattering egos, and I was so willing to fall for it. This is where the disappointment came from, and I can do something about that.
I do like to reply sometimes. I will explain I don’t have any money, but I would be willing to trade one of the paintings they admired so much. No one has yet taken me up on this offer.
My other idea was to produce crude images copied from bus station toilets (on 80gsm office paper, with a biro) and pay £ a year to post hundreds of them on their site. Maybe that is already happening? Perhaps the collective minds of artists nationwide are conspiring to sink their digital ship with a steady flow of bad pencil drawings of celebrities copied from magazines. Who knows?
I will try to greet any future offers of ‘the career in art you always wanted without having to work or make any sacrifices’ with amusement rather than resentment. It won’t do me any harm unless I’m conceited enough to fall for it.
In the meantime, if anyone thinks they can make money from my artwork, go ahead, you can have a whopping commission, maybe even a bigger share than me, and I mean that, but I don’t have any money to put up front; I only have hundreds of paintings.