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Friday, July 30, 2010

Art Press and Gifts

As artists, we all seek out and enjoy media recognition for our work whether it comes in the form of a newspaper article, magazine, blog or television and radio coverage.

But did you know that you should not offer compensation or gifts to individuals writing articles about you or providing you some form of press coverage? Most reporters, magazine writers, etc. will not accept anything beyond a glass of water if they are offered it by an interviewee. To accept more than that, could cause someone to claim that the writer was biased and received the gift or compensation in exchange for the article. The reputation of the writer and the publisher could easily be compromised.

Artists should not be offended when professional media members and other writers decline even simple offers of food because of this "appearance" concern. While you may view it as a simple offer of food, the general public might perceive it very differently. The ethical standard is the "appearance of impropriety."

I had a recent experience for the book I am writing where an artist contacted me many months after the book deadline for photo submissions had passed. I politely declined her photos and informed her the book was already organized, and it would have required me to spend a week or more to reorganize and recaption the book. She responded by offering me a bribe of her jewelry for "my time." When I informed her I could not accept bribes, she became outraged and said it was not a "bribe" but was for my "extra time" to place her photos in the book! Her reasoning was way off since this was clearly a gift (and outright bribe) in exchange for my reopening the closed book process just for her. And to be honest, her work simply was not at a level that came near to matching the expertise of the artists in the craft and formal sculpture section.

If as an artist you are in the "writer" position, be cautious in such situations. It does not matter how the gift may be categorized by the giver, such as "it is just a trinket","I do not expect anything in return", "I was going to throw it away anyway", or "it is not connected to the book." You should not accept any gift or compensation. In addition, if you accept such a gift, this gifter could later claim that there was some form of an agreement or an "understanding" in exchange for this gift, contrary to what they may have claimed earlier.

In addition, while your personal motivation may have been pure for offering that writer a sandwich or a cookie, be a sophisticated artist by showing recognition and respect for the journalistic standards of a writer.

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