Psssst….wanna hear the Artist’s Dirty Little Secret ?

XXX red on black backgroundThe most talented, beautiful wonderful people I know Рartists, dancers, musicians, songwriters, sculptors, writers, film-makers Р ALL have a very dirty little secret.

It’s one they refuse to acknowledge, even to themselves. One so heinous and deep as to affect all that choose an artistic profession, no matter the discipline or genre.

This is a dirty, horrible secret that festers and eats away at the very fabric of our human existence. One that reaches far into the bowels of all of society and kills souls with it’s rank putridity.

It’s a self-mutilating secret of the worst kind. One that cuts silently, deeply in a poisonous, hushed way, killing from the inside out. It’s a suicidal action with the deepest hurt to all, yet appearing on the surface to be a well-meaning act of do-gooding societal servitude. It is the most powerful and worst killer of creativity in any form.

It’s never spoken about in public circles amongst artists for fear that one be seen as non-compliant in the brotherhood. Play along, now. There’s a good boy and girl. Have a cookie. Good doggie.

Only the bravest, most confident dare utter against it and sometimes sing it loud enough to call a cry of battle against this sin.

If it is whispered in the dark corners of damp alleys on the backstreets behind wealthy corporations, public institutes of education and galleries, it is only whispered in the quietest of the junkie’s voice, for fear of retribution or exorcism from the Church of Artist and Exhibition or worse…..the fearful chance of never being considered again and getting that much needed “hit”.

The Others ….expect this sin to be acted out and performed willingly over and over again for their own personal pleasure. They have come to expect and even demand it of artists In The Form and In The Name of Well-Cloaked, Well-Meaning, Do-Gooding ways.

They tempt with the sweet candy to the baby.

You know it….you’ve heard that juicy, dripping, temptress phrase,

“Come on – it will be GOOD for your reputation. It will get you more EX-PO-SURE, and it will all be for a good cause.”

I’m not afraid to name it.
I’ll cast the first stone.
I’ll tell you the dirty little secret.

Artists ¬†volunteer and give themselves away too much. Artists work for much LESS than colleagues in an a parallel professional practice or ….WORSE!!!…..for FREE and never even ASK to be paid for their professional services.

Artists STAND for not being paid on time, and maybe not at all!

A volunteer gig and donation once or twice? I’m all for it. My entire artistic practice is about community and relationship development but anything beyond that, you’re doing nothing but disservice to the profession and your fellow colleagues, creating flakes and harlots of us all and mocking the incredible value, purpose, insight and passion that artists offer to society.

Have some respect for yourselves. Get off your knees, pull up your panties, get out of the alley and wipe that smeared, cheap red lipstick from your face.

After all, we’re not LAWYERS or POLITICIANS for heaven’s sake.


Bill at a decent rate. Be professional in every act and demeanour when you represent yourself and your work. Join CARFAC or a similar artist’s advocacy group in your city or country and don’t kneel for it anymore. GET involved. Share this post far and wide. Educate your clients, industry, your galleries and your local schools and charitable institutions and your government funders. Don’t just SETTLE.

Every ounce of professional respect that you give yourself, your colleagues and profession will be returned a thousand times over.


Artists – Teach Others How To Treat You

“This Photograph Is Not Free” – John Mueller

6 Limits for Donating Artwork –

Educate Those Who Ask for Donations of Your Art – Fiona Purdy on

The Problem With Donating Art and the Solution – Maria Brophy

The Art Newspaper – Artists should have the same tax deductions as collectors when donating works of art

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