Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Mercenary Art

Recently on one of the local forums someone used the word “mercenary.” It got me thinking about soldiers of fortune and how there are mercenaries in just about every profession; folks that do their jobs just for the money and not for the love of their craft.

Some people start their career in their craft with a sincere, earnest and honest intent, but somewhere along the way they move over to the dark side. Those that start their careers on the dark side usually don’t last long. The gougers usually get their comeuppance or at least we can always hope they will.

The particular focus of my thoughts on mercenaries goes to local artists. I am close to several artists. I have a great deal of local art in my home. Some was purchased and some was given to me in friendship. I only have art from artist I like personally. I love the art of Auntie L, Kicki, and a few other potters, sculptures and glass artists. Their art is all over my place.

Their prices are reasonable and affordable, even to other artists. That is the key to a proper price structure. Henry Ford paid his employees a wage that would guarantee that his products could be purchased by the people that made his product. Art should be priced so that it can be purchased by other practitioners.

I don’t care how good the art may be; if the artist is a schmuck I don’t want their work in my life. There is one local mercenary schmuck that when I saw the price of some of his prints I found that I stopped breathing for a while hoping that my eye had unintentionally added an extra digit or two. It reminded me of the old comics of the two kids with lemonade stands next to one another. One stand had the price set at 5 cents and the other kid had the price set at $100. The caption read, “But all I need to sell is one glass.”

Is it any wonder this mercenary is always crying poverty, tries to trade his art for goods and services at a major mark-up and tries to hold fund raisers when his financial endeavors are blown away? He would be so far ahead had he been reasonable all along.


Blogger Patrick McGee said...

Ever seen Jack Guyot's work?

7:49 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

I've met a few that because they got all "A's" in art school they think they're then next Pablo Picasso. Art is all about what the market will bear. It's what you will pay for it. If I had the dough, I'd pay alot for a Dali or Davinci, but very little for a Degas or a Donatello.
If your local artist has priced himself out of the market, you might suggest he get a real job. If he's hungry, offer to trade him a Happy Meal for one of his prints. If he's really hungry, he'll take it.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Uncle Walt said...

And how much of the "stimulus" package is going to the NEA again? Too much, I say.

My theory is that too many artists think just because their profession had patrons during the Fuedal age, that they deserve gov't patronization now.

btw - there is a difference between mercenaries and soldiers of fortune (SoF). At least, to those in the profession. A SoF fights for a cause, as well as the money. A mercenary just fights for the money.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

My neighbor recently hired a contractor who's philosophy is based on the same concept...he and his crew would rather bid a job low and get it, working on a regular basis, than bid high...HOPING to snag ONE, all the while not working a day. What a concept, eh? I'm not much of an art collector...remember, I have the full size leg lamp :)

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a few years back there was a slightly schizophrenic man who wandered the streets of Astoria offering his paintings for $2 each. If that was too much $1 would do. I bought one or two most every day for several years, usually selecting from a stack of ten or so. Some were quite good. Not sure where he is now but by a wide margin he sold more paintings than anyone.

9:25 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Patrick, I have seen his work. It is big and really "Street." His prices are reasonable considering the size of his work, though I'm not sure I want to hang it on the walls of a home because of his usual dark subject matter.

Darev, I'd rather watch him hustle.

Walt, thanks for that definition. I would still use mercenary in this situation.

Ginger...I don't quite know what to say...too funny.

Anon, Cool! I never met that guy, but I would have supported him too had I known. Interesting side line.. In the 60s Richard Brautigan sold Trout Money in San Francisco. Today they are so rare that I've seen an individual Trout Dollar selling for over $1,000 on Alebris. You may have invested well one and 2 dollars at a time.

5:40 AM  

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