How do artists feel about paying to enter exhibitions or open calls?

We posted this question on our Instagram on 21st May 2021, here are the answers offered by our followers:

  1. As someone unwaged, I have an issue with bigger organisations charging, I literally can’t afford them. I do appreciate shows cost to stage but some charges seem excessive. Saying that, if the show is run by a smaller community group or collective I am happy to pay into their funds to help them survive.
  2. I feel like submission fees need to be more transparent – what does the fee actually go towards? Sometimes it’s like throwing money into air. It’s frustrating when there’s a submission fee and the gallery asks for 50% of sales too.
  3. I think things like paying to get a submission form in the first place is just wrong. I don’t have a problem with a small submission fee and then a further fee or donation should your work be accepted. Some organisations are taking the piss – but some are desperate for funding to keep going – so fair play. There seem to be more and more ‘opportunities’ to exhibit now and I do think there’s a need to be selective. What does make me antsy are London-centric and oppos where delivery/courier costs on top of entry fees just make submissions untenable. I’m not even thinking about commission costs.
  4. I have a major problem with arts organisations charging artists to submit. I feel many are charging artists an entry fee with no guarantee of being included to subsidise the sector with their own money! There should be more transparency & accountability from arts orgs on what the monies raised are used for. I am all for supporting artist led organisations & often these are the ones who seem more ethical, charging pay as you feel/sliding scale or only if you are accepted to exhibit. Sadly until we as artists realise our worth, this exploitation will continue.


How do artists price their work?

We posted this question on our Instagram on 19th May 2021, here are the answers offered by our followers:

  1. It really does depend what it is you are working on. I have set out a daily rate for myself (mostly for workshops) based on the AN website guidance taking into account my overheads and experience. I have started itemising invoices in more details to give a sense of the work that actually goes into delivering workshops, etc.
  2. There’s lots of guidance on websites like Axis, AN, Artleague & the Artist’s Union England. Personally I use cost of materials + hourly rate (how long it took) & also factor in what my last piece sold for. You need to be mindful of keeping your prices steady. (Also if selling through a gallery remember to factor in the commission they take.)
  3. Oh this is a minefield! I don’t have a problem with working out the practical side (materials etc) – but I do have a problem with the ask. I end up pricing work too low and that, in and of itself, can be off-putting to some people… I’d like to expand on this, to ask how people get comfortable with pricing their work? I’m not going down the justification of WHY art costs what it does (outside art auction rooms).
  4. I was once told to price materials + time taken to complete (an hourly rate) + the worth of work to me (for example, if the work is sentimental it should be priced higher). I sell my art prints at an affordable and generally average rate (around £20), but I always find original works difficult to price (especially when they mean a lot to me and I am probably biased about their worth) 💗
  5. I can totally relate to the difficulty with pricing more personal work, or those that have high sentiment. I was told by my lecturer’s that there should be no price difference & if you feel still attached to the work in that way then don’t sell it. It’s a difficult one because if it’s worth is higher to you personally isn’t that something you factor in? x
  6. 💘 Totally agree! I would feel a type of loss if I wasn’t compensated for a sentimental sale. But I can see on a professional level that work should be consistently priced. After all, just because it is sentimental to me doesn’t make it that way for anybody else 🤔 I like the idea of keeping all sentimental works, although I feel attached to almost everything I make 🤦🏼‍♀️😂
  7. ☺️ it’s so difficult! Having had a work stolen, I realise that even some of the elements I use are irreplaceable & pricing those is really hard. I’ve had to think a lot about using really precious (to me) objects, but that would then change the nature of my work.I guess making to sell isn’t for me, and it’s usually supporting drawings & collages are things I’m happy to let go of.😊
  8. Thats exactly it! Even I felt a major loss for you work when it was taken because I recognised how special every element was. 🎁 I also love gifting objects, sketches and little studies to people I love (for free), but if I priced the same works it would be difficult to measure 🤔 It’s like some of my works are valued on connection and relationships 💗 (which is a different topic to this post but also quite interesting now I’m thinking about it)
  9. ❤️ completely agree! It’s really interesting how we ‘value’ our work & that these personal, deeply felt attachments & connections factor into it.


When is it fair to call yourself a professional artist?

We posted this question on our Instagram on 14th May 2021, here are the answers offered by our followers:

  1. As far as I know, ‘professional artist’ isn’t a protected term or title – so you can call yourself one if you so wish. I much prefer the term artist without a qualifier. Life is elitist enough – so as far as I’m concerned – ‘professional artist’, ‘amateur artist’, ‘self-taught artist’, and all of the other label can just do one. Can you tell that pigeonholing is a trigger for me? How do people define what a ‘professional artist’ is? Is it down to qualifications, having a studio, having gallery representation, lots of sales, a large amount of collectors, honesty, integrity, an artist statement?
  2. Professional artist is a bit of a weird title and just being called artist is enough. You can claim the term whenever you want to. I think the term professional artist really just means any of the following: you are aiming to exhibit your work in public settings; aiming make a living or some money from it (when possible); aiming to dedicate a considerable portion of your time to your practice; aiming to present yourself to the world as an artist.
  3. I always considered a professional artist as someone who makes a living from their art 💰 But more recently I agree – commitment, time and energy making and showing art, as well as networking and being a part of creative spaces makes someone professional too.
  4. Love these comments! I feel like it depends on what kind of artist you want to be, I don’t think there is strictly one type of artist or a benchmark for what is deemed to be professional artist status. For example, I love delivering workshops and have based my art CV and a page on my website around this. I have lots of experience delivering workshops and feel confident enough to consider myself to be professional in that sense. I think being able evidence your work and the way you work is always helpful in cementing your professional standing. From my experience of commissioning artists to work on projects with me, I had no idea if a person was a long-standing “professional” artist or someone new to the art world. I was looking purely for someone who fulfils the brief, communicated and acted in a professional manner, was reliable and able to deliver on-time, quality works.


What if I never get another commission?

We posted this question on our Instagram on 7th May 2021, here are the answers offered by our followers:

  1. I know I sent a bunch of questions in, but ALL of them sound like me right now! So much existential / art angst! 😂 If it’s not me, it’s hugely relatable! Love the advice too. ❤️
  2. You won’t get paid for making work designed to fit someone else’s agenda/programme, and you might have the time to make, or at least think about, the work you want to make… trust me.❤️
  3. What if you do?! Potential joys and headaches either way! 😉


Can shy people make a good career in art?

We posted this question on our Instagram on 30th April 2021, here are the answers offered by our followers:

  1. I think yes – if the work can carry their voice 💯🔥 Maybe it could be used to an advantage, like Banksy who makes work silently. But being confident and heard in the sector helps to be noticed. Fake it till you make it as they say!
  2. Yes 🙌 once you start to talk about your passion you gain momentum and confidence even if it’s for only the moment you need it. 🔥 Recharge your batteries and do it all again a continuous cycle. That’s how it is for me 😂
  3. As someone who can be shy/socially awkward, I hope so. It’s really sold that it’s networking that helps you get noticed and gets you contacts 😖😖


Does it matter if my body of work lacks stylistic coherence?

We posted this question on our Instagram on 28th April 2021, here are the answers offered by our followers:

  1. I think it’s good to experiment and to push yourself to try new methods and materials, but it’s an easier ‘sell’ to galleries and audiences if you have a coherent thread that links your work, it might be an idea or a style or material. This allows your practice to progress in a way that an audience can follow.
  2. Ummm – it doesn’t matter to me lol As Anna said – maybe it’s a useful shorthand/sell – but I think it can be a bit reductive. I feel the same way about artist statements 🙂
  3. 💯 I think about this a lot in regards to my own work. I would like to make my own work more coherent so it feels connected and so it can be traced back to me by audiences. However, I think it can be necessary to lack stylistic coherence while developing new ways of making and thinking. Perhaps it’s stylistically coherent to lack stylistic coherence!! 💯
  4. I was going to reply to this thread but then found the previous comment literally wrote word for word what I was going to say .👏👏👏


What kind of art could I make with no monetary / institutional support?

We posted this question on our Instagram on 23rd April 2021, here are the answers offered by our followers:

  1. You can make sculpture with recycled materials or found materials. You can make pigments with natural material to paint. You can use your phone for photography. You can use social media as a platform to promote your work.
  2. I believe lots can be done without money/institutional support. Personally I’ve made 3d work from found, recycled & gifted objects. Reused packaging, paper, cardboard and magazines for making drawing & collages. Burnt wood & food dyes for drawings & old clothes/linens for textile work.
  3. A paper/card recycling wheely bin is a treasure trove of things to use as a support to work on – and there’s usually lots of things to collage/make Matisse-inspired cut-outs forms out of!
  4. Junk mail can also be a good source of materials to draw on or collage; envelopes, brochures, take away menus … DIY stores are great for paint shade cards and random leaflets/catalogues – just don’t be greedy! Even if you don’t work with this stuff – there’s often colour/texture inspo that can be kept for future ref.
  5. I make art out of rubbish and scraps. ♻️♻️♻️
  6. Horsing around: Australian man creates paper pony out of lunch bags in hotel quarantine.
  7. ✨ Make performance art ✨ Make action art ✨ Use your voice to make sound and use your body to explore space ✨ Take to a landscape and create sculptures/actions with twigs and leaves ✨ Record moments via phone camera or note pads ✨✨✨✨ You are the art ✨✨✨✨


Do you ever worry that you’re on the wrong track with your practice?

We posted this question on our Instagram on 23rd April 2021, here are the answers offered by our followers:

  1. All the time.
  2. I so often see calls for mural proposals that sometimes wonder if it would be better for me to think more 2d. Then a few years ago I was focusing on how to make my hand held sculptures more applicable for submitting to group gallery shows. My solution ended up being too interesting for the original problem but now I am left with these interesting objects that I don’t know how to define. Actually that I struggle to define them isn’t a personal issue but I feel like when you push things out of your studio others want a clean category to put things in. Isn’t that someone else’s job?
  3. At the moment, actually maintaining a practice is difficult for me at least! I think a lot of folks are struggling with creative isolation and even with the beginning of things starting to open up again, feeling a bit daunted. Thinking literally, going down a creative cul-de-sac from time to time is part of the journey!
  4. I also think that sometimes you can get into a “comparison is the thief of joy” kind of thing with your practice, imagining you’re the only person to ever have doubts/have can’t be arsed periods/feel a bit ‘sod-it’.
  5. Everyday!!
  6. All the time! 😬
  7. Constantly, so I call it a heuristic practice (to give it purpose/to make myself feel better about it 😳)!


I’m intrigued by the divide between those who make art for it’s own sake and those who need to make some money out of their art… I find monetising my own art quite difficult. Would love to hear other artist’s POV on this.

We posted this question on our Instagram on 16th April 2021, here are the answers offered by our followers:

  1. When you find the answer, let me know. 🙌 😂
  2. It’s a mixture of both for me. Getting back into drawing & painting has helped my mental health. But, whether other people like it, or are willing to buy it is another matter. 😣
    I think if you can make money with your art or from an element of your artist practice then that can allow you to dedicate time to your work, there shouldn’t be shame in wanting to make a living.
  3. I started by making art for arts sake, then started to sell it, now i sometimes feel pressure to make art to sell rather than make it for makings sake. Currently in a making it for making sakes period. 😂
  4. I do both, I make art for its own sake but also with the intention of selling it (girl gotta eat!) or transforming it into another saleable product. Making prints, cards other printed products (and dare I say the word ‘marketing?’) is an art form in itself. I went through a phase where I tried to do more ‘commercial friendly’ art – but it didn’t work on the sales side! It wasn’t true to me. So I went back to creating art for arts sake or what was a truer reflection of me and people connect to that (then they buy it…) We speak so lyrically and romantically about art and what it is, sometimes I think that adds a barrier between artists and non-artists which shouldn’t exist (how many people say to you ‘I don’t get art’) But It’s just a skilled career like anything else. Personally I want to create & I want to sell. I feel confident doing it! Monetising can be difficult, you almost have to look at it with a different brain. Take the emotion out of it (there are 2 pieces of mine that I’ll never sell because they mean a lot to me). Personally I sometimes struggle with commissions (people will often ask for pet portraits and that’s not what I do so I don’t take them on – but there is money to be made there!). Adding a price tag doesn’t take away from the integrity of the work though. I want this to be my full time career (I still have a part time job for stable income taking risks has never been my strong suit!) Not sure how helpful this comment is, I went on a bit. It’s like a dissertation topic, this question, haha. There’s no right way to be an artist just do what you want.
  5. It depends. I’d struggle to just make art for the ‘selling’ market, my practice & what drives me to create isn’t monetary. But we’ve all got to make a living & I use my creativity in other ways to pay the bills. I think it’s about finding the right balance that works for you.
  6. I am always apprehensive about spending the money to have a reproduced item available for cheeper easier sales. (Prints, stickers, booklets). It’s a spend money to make money thing but I am paranoid of option of spending money and selling nothing. I guess I am worried about trusting my audience to support me.
  7. Both carry very different meaning for me and both feel really important to me. Paid work gives me confidence and a sense of success, but i don’t often sell the work I love (at times I have hated making this work for production and design companies). Then, the work I make for the sake of it is the my most authentic and important. I would even feel uncomfortable selling this work because it is sentimental and feels a part of me 🧠🫁🫀

New Peer Support Feature!

During the 2021 Artist Discussion Peer Support sessions, we have been discussing what it means to be an artist and the skills now required to pursue an artistic career or practice. We came to the conclusion that as artists we often have questions we really need to ask but sometimes feel embarrassed or unable to ask or just don’t know where to find the information we need.

To help us all and to guide each other, I have set up an anonymous way to ask those burning questions relating to your practice. I will post questions on the @artdiscussterm social media accounts for other artists to respond with their thoughts.

Example questions:

  • How do artists apply for funding?
  • Should my artistic practice cover different mediums and topics or should I refine and channel my practice into one subject, medium or area?
  • Artist mentorship or find your own way?