pen and ink on acid free paper
I initially wanted to send this to you privately but... what the heck. I simply decided to make this an entry here in my blog.
People who know me well will tell you that one of my pet peeves (aside from being called "Kuya" by people I absolutely have no blood relations with) is when total strangers come up to me and say, "Hi, can you paint me nude? For FREE ha?" or, "Hi! Can I have one of your sketches or better yet, can you give me na lang one of your paintings. Sige na PUHLEEEZ??", and then would proceed to give me the most doe-eyed expression they can muster. They ask me these without the temerity of even giving me their friggin' name!
What I will say here is something that most artists, deep within the deepest recesses of their minds and guts would want to say but are either too polite or too timid to tell when confronted by these “requests” or anything similar to what I wrote on top.
"Ano ka? Sineswerte?"
Like all of us who try to eke out a living, us “artists” are no different from those who clock in 8-hour daily shifts. We actually earn from what we draw, dance, sing or sculpt. It even takes a whole lifetime to perfect these skills. Some even die without seeing the rewards from the fruits of their life's labor.
I admit, unless the works are mediocre, these products of our imagination are indeed expensive. Why? Blood, sweat and tears pour into these imaginative creations. When a painter or sculptor exhibits his works, it doesn't mean it's a mere 'brag-o-rama' sort of exposition where he shakes his balls for the whole wide world to see... and ends there. There's actually business that happens behind it, which the public doesn't necessarily have to see nor even know about. Monies, fortunes and even reputations are traded for the best art.
The beneficiaries of these are not only the galleries that exhibit the works, the promoters who make all these press releases, the managers who take care of the artist and his career, but in the end, the artist himself. In a much wider picture, another beneficiary, through time and how well the artist was able to encapsulate the thoughts of his community into a quantifiable expression, would be the culture to which his work adds on or improves upon. Every single piece done by a career artist is unique, well thought of, has value and in many cases, seen as an investment.
So you see, it isn't just a doodle that an artist would give out to every Tom, Dick and Harry he meets along the street - unless if that is the thesis of the artist's work. It is a well-structured business where every piece is traded for with something of pre-determined equal value to acquire.
Here's a little fact that many neglect to know. Serious artists don't necessarily make "give-aways" of their works the way Mcdonald's or Jollibee do with their freebies as part of a marketing gimmick. A lot of times, the artist or his family, when he’s long dead and gone, would keep many of the works for varied personal reasons. Ergo, unless bought, it is difficult to part with a work as a token. Think of it like having a child. Now, how often have you heard of any person who would give away his child the way he'd give, say bananas to any passing monkey?
It even took me more than ten years before I actually gave a very close and dear friend a sketch of mine.
An artist needs time, an actual relationship and a good, meaningful reason to give away something he/she created without the presence of any physical barter. We don’t buy our thoughts or ideas the way a Hermana Mayor would buy gold-foil wrapped chocolates from the supermarket and toss it to the town children during fiesta.
My suggestion, if you would like to have a “free work” from some artist who’s into what he does on the long run… befriend him or her first. Be close to that artist and establish some form of rapport or relationship. Paul Gauguin made his best works using his
Who knows, di ba? If you start befriending a career artist with an excellent body of works and have good relationship with that person, you wouldn’t have to run away with one of his/her works. Heck, he might even hand it to you with a brass band to accompany it.
*I know that my examples are a bit racy. I am not looking for a lover to give my sketches or devote a painting to. I just used them to illustrate a point.