Submission Fees Part 2

I am fundamentally opposed to paying submission fees, as I stated in part 1 of this rant. I understand that the curator or juror has to be paid and that the gallery has overhead and bills to pay, but, hey, so does the artist.

It also used to be that the gallery would pay the return shipping costs. These days the artist must incur costs to ship their work both ways.

In Canada a number of public (not for profit) galleries and artist run centers will pay Carfac fees, but that is dependent on whether or not they have funding. Carfac is an arts advocacy association that has put together a fee schedule on what are fair fees for artists to show, provide workshops and lectures. They even took the National Gallery all the way to the Supreme Court fighting for artist copyrights. They won.

Arts and culture is dramatically underfunded, so if a government grant doesn’t come your way costs will fall to the artist to pay. The new rule seems to be if you want to show your work be prepared to foot the bill. Some exhibitions are worth the fee because of their high profile.

I’m not saying that public galleries are to blame. Obtaining funding is very competitive. The galleries rely heavily on volunteers and seasoned grant writers to compete for these funds.

My rule is not to pay entry fees, submission fees or whatever they may be called. Recently I was invited by a curator to submit to a juried show. In the prospectus it indicated a “participation fee” of $30 USD. I thought that meant I was going to be paid $30 for showing my work but alas, it was me that was to pay them. I was disappointed because I wanted to “participate” in the show but did not want to break my rule of not paying fees to do so. This is what I did:

I wrote the curator and explained that the “participation fee” was misleading as it sounded like the fee was being paid to the artist. I asked if they would waive the fee and they did. Don’t be afraid to ask. Perhaps if more of us did…

Perhaps it would be prudent in the never ending line up of creative and gifted artists to just say NO and ask, “Will the artist be paid?”

My Social Media Rules

social media rulesYou can search Google and come up with literally millions of websites that tell you all about being a success on social media sites. It can be overwhelming and it is.

So I decided to make my own social media rules. This is how I interact on the one social media site that I seem to do okay on, Facebook. And by okay I mean people actually talk to me.

Here are my social media rules.

  1. If you post or share an image without saying something about it, I assume that you think the image is worth a 1000 words and my comment isn’t necessary.
  2. The most I will do in this case is “like” but only if I truly do like it.
  3. I may share an image you posted but rules #1 and #2 apply.
  4. If you do happen to say something about an image you posted and if I want to share the image I will make a point of commenting on your post because otherwise it feels like I’m stealing.
  5. I have started random acts of sharing from my feed on my business page. It’s hard since most artists don’t post the title, size and medium of their work. It’s always just one of the aforementioned so when I find an artist that includes all that and a link to their website I get very excited.
  6. Speaking of links. I will share a poster image of your exhibition if you give a link to the venue.
  7. I started finding links and pasting them in the comment area of posts that lack them, but stopped thinking perhaps I was overstepping my bounds plus I could be there all day. And I am not the link police though given time would be. LINKS! Give us LINKS!!
  8. Nobody likes to be ignored. Your minimum required action is to like all comments on your post. The exception to this is rude people who you should actually un-friend if they’re rude.
  9. Speaking of un-friending. Should you decide that you no longer want what I share and un-friend me, that’s okay. I’ll be a bit sad but I won’t whine about.
  10. Unless expressly asked for do not critique art in public on any social media platform.
  11. Please don’t correct my grammar and spelling and I won’t correct yours. It takes all the fun and poignancy out connecting.
  12. If I continually share your stuff and you never share mine, I’ll keep sharing your stuff.

Those are my social media rules. Of course yours maybe different. Do you have social media rules that you use? If so please share them in the comments, I’m dying to know if I’m the only one.

Free Art for Sale – Donating Art to Charity

I come across various articles on why artists should not donate their art to charities. The reasons vary from…

– it brings down the value of art in general
– a lot of artists already live at the poverty line and it is unfair
– donating your art doesn’t get you the exposure you think it will
– etc, etc, etc

Personally I believe that if the only reason you are donating art to charity is for the exposure then you are doing it for the wrong reason.

Personally I believe that if you are donating art to charity it should be for a cause you actually believe in.

Generally, working artists don’t have a lot of extra cash hanging around so donating an artwork is one way for them to help charities they believe in.

Personally I believe that charities think that artists are an easy group to exploit for a means to their end. Is this not like robbing Peter to support Paul? AND What artist doesn’t want exposure for their work?

Personally I believe that exposure has nothing what so ever to do with it. Donate because you believe and truly want to help. Is it not a bit self serving to donate art to charity solely for exposure?

Don’t be fooled that you’ll get discovered this way because when you’re not you’ll feel worse or that your work isn’t good enough. Don’t prostitute yourself! No, wait, even the prostitute gets paid.

This is only my opinion, yours may be different. Feel free to express it in the comments below.

Tweet: If the only reason for donating art to charity is for exposure then it’s the wrong reason

Submission Fees

More and more you see calls to artists where there is a $25 to $35 submission fee. I have also seen some that are asking for $10 per image submitted. This fee doesn’t guarantee that you are in the show only that you can submit.

I have also noticed that alot of calls state that you the artist, have to incur the cost of shipping the work to and from the gallery. I found this from a website call:

“Shipped works must be sent in an easily reusable container/packaging with return shipping prepaid, and include the return shipping label with the work.”

I get it that in order to survive that some galleries need to levee these charges especially artists run centers.

I was juried into a The Sculptors Society of Canadian a few years ago. They are based in Toronto and I live in Alberta. In order to show in the gallery I have to pay a $50 submission fee as well as pay for the transport of my work there and back. This is a great group and a lovely gallery and I get it that they don’t have a lot of funding. For a venue like this perhaps it would be alright to participate and pay the submission fees maybe once a year???

I still don’t think artists should have to pay submission fees to show their work! I have always had a policy never to pay submission fees to exhibit my work especially not to a vanity gallery.

Do you pay submission fees to galleries to show your work?


Preparing Installation Work for Exhibition


Weather it is a group or a solo exhibition if you are showing in a Public Art Gallery you have responsibilities. NEVER assume anything, always ask. There are a number of responsibilities you have as a exhibiting artist but in this post we’re going to talk about the installation of an installation work.

What you need to know:

Ask for a floor plan for the space?
If at all possible visit the gallery yourself to become familiar with the space and take your own measurements. If you can’t be there ask for a floor plan and pictures. You may need to make adjustments if for example the ceiling height is higher/lower or your allotted wall space is different than anticipated.

When are the installation dates?
If you can be there to install try to do it earlier rather than later. This will give you the time you need in case something unforeseen happens and save you from being there until midnight or finding yourself short of materials and all the stores are closed.

What technical support is available?
Again never assume that the gallery will know what to do with your work. More often than not artist run centers and galleries that are not the MoMA, have student installers who are there to learn and earn credits.

What equipment and tools are available for installation?
If your work has any special hanging requirements talk about it with your gallery contact. You might be required to supply the special installation items so give yourself plenty of time to source suppliers. Make sure you describe your work, how it was made and what attacheds it to the wall.

I always bring my tools with me because I know I’ll have the right size drill bit, etc. Also if you need electrical outlets ask about extension cord routes to your installation, you might have to supply your own extension cords.

Do a dry run: install your work in your studio.
Chances are you have done this to create the work in the first place, but if you are grouping pieces to create an installation work like I have done with the piece Cruciform, then don’t think that you can figure it out on site. A dry run will help you work the bugs out of the installation process and it confirms your dimensions.

Map it: do a drawing indicating dimensions and a starting point for the install. It will also make the real install go so much quicker and smoother.

If the show is out-of-town give the gallery installation instructions and drawings with dimensions. Photograph the work from various angles already installed and send them with the instructions.

If there is a catalogue being published for the exhibit, ask what type and how extensive a publication it will be. Often artists with installation work will not have a professional print ready image of the piece being shown. Don’t count on getting those images from the gallery when they document the exhibition as this may be too late to be included in the catalogue.

At the end of the exhibit
Find out when the work will be coming down and try to be there to disassemble the work. Sometimes the work doesn’t come down the same way it went up so make sure that uninstall instructions are also included with the work when sending out-of-town.

Always be ready and you will have the best show ever.

Damaged Work


I posed the question for Alyson Stanfield to use at
Have you ever shown at a venue that broke or damaged one of your artworks and didn’t offer to remunerate you for the loss? What did you do?

The response was over whelming, 19 38 comments. Admittedly a few of those comments were me connecting with an artist who owned a piece of mine. Very cool this small world of ours. Still the stories ranged from work lost in fires, stolen and or mishandled and it all seems to come down to contracts and insurance.

My piece Ink Well was damaged by a gallery during installation. It was an accident and yes I had a contract with the gallery and they did have insurance on the work while it was in their possession.

What did I do? I took it on the chin.


  1. It was a public not for profit gallery.
  2. There were extenuating circumstances with the people involved that I think are to personal to publish here.
  3. I was able to piece the work back together (sort of).

While the damage to this piece brought a tear to my eye I was able to make something of it. The gallery gathered up all the fragments and most of the breaks from falling off the wall to a concrete floor below were clean.  But because this work is encaustic I could not just glue it back together.

Hesitantly I applied melted wax as slip and used my torch to fuse. I had to pass the torch over the surface to create a good bond and remove the crack lines. This process moved the current layers of wax and the colours thus creating a whole new piece.

While I still prefer the original piece I am happy that I was able to maintain the focal point at the center of the piece which was my favourite aspect of the original.

Ink Well Before

Ink Well After

Which one do you prefer?

Shipping Art

IMG_5932Shipping art to the U.S. and getting it back again. It’s the getting it back that’s the tough part. I had 5 pieces in an exhibition in New York a few years ago. After the show was over and the gallery shipped it back, the work was stopped at the border. Customs would not release it until I paid a brokerage fee. I called Canada Customs and explained that I owned the work but it seems that they don’t have a way to handle this. There was a value placed on the work so there was duty. In the end I was told that the only way to avoid duty is to broker it yourself.

Now saying all that…

When I shipped the work to New York I used an art shipper. Actually 2 art shippers; one from Calgary to Toronto, then handed off from Toronto to New York. They took care of everything and all the costs were quoted up front. It was expensive (close to $900 for 5 pc’s) but it arrived all very safe and sound.

I believe the trouble I had on the return delivery was because the gallery tiring to save money shipped my work FedEx Ground! Why is still beyond me, this was a very reputable gallery who ships work back and forth all across America but not that often across the border. Had they used an bonafide art shipper I don’t believe I would of had the problems I had.

Did I mention that all the work can back DAMAGED! They even managed to break a wood crate. That’s because they shipped via ground and my work was bounced all around the U.S. before it even managed to reach the border. You can imagine how my heart sank when the work finally arrived 2 weeks later.

I hear a lot of horror stories about damaged art and all the artist can do is throw their hands in the air in defeat. I thought that I was going to be one of those but the gallery owner really came through for me. He fought tooth and nail with FedEx and managed to get me a settlement. They also sent me the encaustic that I would need to repair the work, which I was able to do.

The typical scenario is that the artist pays to have the work shipped there and the gallery is responsible to incur the cost of the return. Perhaps it would be prudent to discuss the shipping methods up front before entering into a contract.

Here’s a list of some art shippers at