New Website Asks Artists To Rate Their Jobs

Artists share their experiences, including compensation figures for past projects.

Who Pays Artists?, a recently launched website that is being touted as a “Yelp” of sorts for discussing artists’ pay, encourages people to share their experiences and compensation on various projects. With entries only dating back to May, the stories posted on the site thus far run the gamut from extremely brief to very detailed, and from disgruntled to content to “unusually good” experiences in several cases.

The explanation on the site’s homepage articulates a common problem for many artists: “You never know how much to ask for. Discussions about money are taboo because we pretend that passion and creativity alone should pay the bills. Some of the best events have ‘no budget,’ and sometimes only the worst events can make a career as an artist look painfully sustainable. Let’s help each other sort through some of the confusion, and develop an ongoing dialogue about how artists make money.”

Contributors are directed to fill in the blanks of a form, all of which are optional fields, including: “I was paid __by __for __ in __. It took __ (time) of work and I had a __ experience. I am a __ who has been doing __ for __ years. Also: __”

All submissions are anonymous. The format ensures that submissions stick to the facts, though the “Also” slot at the end allows for a bit of elaboration, such as in this post: “I was paid nothing by a James Franco for a commission in Los Angeles. It took 4 months of work, and I had a unusually good experience. I am a man, and have been doing visual art, design, filmmaking 10 years. Also: Rabbit Bandini seeks young artists who are passionate and manipulates them into believing that working alongside James Franco is somehow worth more than pay. These are BAD PEOPLE.”


Another one of our favorites: “I was paid nothing by myself for a exhibition in Troy, New York. It took 3 months of work, and I had a unusually good experience. I have been doing random stuff 16 years.”

And how about this stunner? “I was paid for a exhibition. I had a good experience.”

The site’s founder is artist Kyle McDonald, who told artnet News his art “tends to exist at the boundary of interactive installation and public intervention.” His previous projects have included one where he let anyone tweet through his Twitter account for one month. Another involved a week doing what he describes as an “inbox zero residency” where he published his progress with answering emails. For a year starting in 2009, he published every keystroke to Twitter in 140 keystroke chunks.


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