Tag Archives: pay to play galleries


22 Sep


I’m currently writing the successor to my book Career Suicide, from which this blog also emerged. The new one will be called Gentlemen and Players. It’s about the various weird situations in which 21st century artists and other creative people are finding themselves due to economic factors and rapidly changing means of production, distribution and consumption. Also making fun of stupid people and the stupid things they do, obviously. And yes, I know the title is sexist and reactionary. I’m writing about the systemic gender and class imbalances in the arts and media, too.

As part of the research process for the book (and of seeing which parts I can cannibalise for the book) I’ve just started reviewing everything that I’ve published here over the past few years. Two documents I put together a while ago but haven’t been widely published are the first things to emerge from this ongoing excavation. Two subjects I’ve often returned to here on this blog are 1) Dodgy pretend galleries that are mainly designed to part wannabe artists from their money and 2) The widespread advertisement of “artist residencies” that are nothing more than curated studio rental or pretentious holidays. Follow the links to see the permanent pages on these subjects.

I still welcome tip offs and informants, but I think I’ve now said just about all there is to say about this sector of the art industry. New people keep blundering in and falling prey to these spivs, but I hope that these two pages will allow me if future to just point at them instead of me having to repeat myself every time another poor wretch succumbs. Honestly, I’m glad to help people out but at the same time being the confidential confessor for so many people is exhausting because their stories are invariably awful and depressing. Once the new book is done I’m hoping to draw a line under the stuff I’ve done until now, and take the blog in a new direction.




25 Jun


Sad news. Notting Hill shopkeepers, “Art as Lifestyle” buccaneers and massive Career Suicide fans Debut Contemporary recently experienced some kind of unfortunate IT glitch, leading to the total loss of all the one star reviews and negative comments on their Facebook page. Luckily, all the uncritical or gushing four and five star reviews were uneffected. Even better, somebody screencapped all the bad reviews before they disappeared. I’m sure Samir will be pleased to know they weren’t lost and are still circulating freely.

Following this tragedy on Facebook, I couldn’t help noticing some of their excellent photography.

MoreenYantobWho’s this? Only bloody “Moreen Lipman” and “Alan Yantob” [both sic and, evidently, sick if they really endorse this place] as proudly namechecked in the DC prospectus. Maybe they’re impersonators who have to style themselves thusly in order to avoid legal action from the real has-been actress and the genuine middlebrow art Hobbit. Samir’s also apparently had a go with other art world titans such as Jason Donovan and Alan Carr. I know, impressive. One time I was on at a Virgin Megastore with Kylie Minogue, though, on the same fucking poster and everything, it was like Alistair Gentry 2pm Kylie Minogue 3pm. Think on that and what it says about my importance to the field of Fine Art.

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28 Apr



I love receiving unsolicited enticements to spend £28 a year for an online portfolio site that has no professional standing or provenance and looks like crap. Even better when it’s written in pidgin English by a company apparently based in London. Better still when I’ve asked them to unsubscribe me at least three times. I’m not sure if “Robert” really exists or if he really has a literacy age of eleven, so for now it suffices to say that there’s often a very good reason for unsolicited communications seeming like the work of a simpleton. Won’t you join me as I tally all the grammatical mistakes and logical errors in this one short piece of marketing?

Hello alistair gentry

Thanks to all participants we are now able to offer a professional portfolio and there are no more application’s fees to participate in all our selections.

I can’t really process the connection between the front and back halves of this sentence. It’s non sequitur, a loop of illogic. If they are “now” able to offer professional portfolios due to participants, then what were they offering before? If they were unable to offer professional portfolios without all participants, how did they get from that situation without offering portfolios of which all the participants could avail themselves and therefore enable the offering of portfolios, which was already happening anyway? Of course there’s also the matter of “application’s fees”. The application owns the fees?  It’s rare for a person with a high school education to commit a shopkeeper’s apostrophe error and an erroneous plural in the same sentence, let alone the same word, but our “Robert” has done us proud. I might be wrongly and naively assuming that a person who does marketing has a high school level of education, though.

Get your membership and your online portfolio for £28 per year to participate for free in all our selections to exhibit in LONDON, NEW YORK and BERLIN as well as all forthcoming new projects and increase your visibility among over 55000 art lovers and collectors.

£28 to participate for free? I bought this car for £10,000 and I got the wheels, the engine, the tyres, the chassis, the interior fittings and all the other mechanical components free! This is doublespeak, war is peace, like something out of 1984. I mean the book, not the year, in case anybody else is like Robert and failed English Lit. It’s not free if you paid for it, even if you paid for it indirectly. Incidentally, UK Trading Standards regulations forbid offering “free” goods or services that you pay for indirectly by a premium on other goods or services, i.e. items that are hidden costs and not really free. In addition, if you read very carefully you realise that what’s being offered is not– as a casual reader might think– free participation in the exhibitions, but free participation in the selection process for the exhibitions.

LONDON, NEW YORK and BERLIN are so important they have to be CAPITALISED. Just look at the magic city names LONDON NEW YORK BERLIN and don’t think about the fact that you will not have anything to do with the genuine art scene as such in these cities, just think of being in LONDON NEW YORK BERLIN and having the lifestyle of a globetrotting international artist of mystery in LONDON NEW YORK BERLIN.

Unsupported and unattributed figures like “55000 art lovers and collectors” [sic] are also great, aren’t they? Obviously it’s not important to state how this number was derived and by whom. Just look at the high number, don’t question it. Continue reading


16 Jan

OK you guys, I’m sorry but I may not be writing this blog for much longer because OMFG CAN’T BREATHE I’ve just been spotted by a talent scout! YO I GOT A GOLD LINK BITCHES. I’m getting exposure from just thinking about it…

TalentScoutsOnly joking, everybody. My real response was this: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, ah, ah… ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…


*Taken to minor injuries unit, sedated and given oxygen*


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13 Jan


“Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it.”

Stephen Leacock, The Perfect Salesman, in The Garden of Folly (1924).

Readers who’ve been interested in some of the resistance by artists to certain vanity art businesses and finishing schools (a great analogy pointed out by Gillian McIver) and the subsequent angry push back from them may still be wondering why anybody would have anything to do with them when their publicity material is so obviously daft and amateur, when there is no credible evidence whatsoever that they benefit the artists who pay them, when the people who run them seemingly can’t say or do anything without showing themselves up as not quite the full shilling or as obvious charlatans, and when no artist or professional in any credible sector of the arts has a good word to say for them.

The answer is depressing, but actually quite straightforward. Quite a lot of serious research has already been done to try and make some sense of the mystifying phenomenon. One paper on the subject is linked below. Some people who run the kinds of businesses designed to target artists for the extraction of money seem far too dense and far too lacking in genuine commercial savvy to be doing it deliberately, but even in those cases the ineptitude and arrant stupidity of their advertising and the patent emptiness of their promises are all features, not bugs. Quite simply, if you’re bright enough, experienced enough, cynical enough or trust your gut feelings enough to look at what these companies are offering and immediately sense that something is amiss… they just don’t want you. They don’t want intelligent, questioning, independent thinkers. Although we shouldn’t make the mistake of primarily blaming the victims rather than the perpetrators, nonetheless it is a fact that the compliant, the naive, and the desperate do continually make themselves victims of scammers or exploitative schemes by virtue of their own compliance, naivity, and desperation.

“Finally, this approach suggests an answer to the question in the title. (NOTE: ‘Why do Nigerian Scammers Say They are from Nigeria?’) Far-fetched tales of West African riches strike most as comical. Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.”

Microsoft research paper by Cormac Herley.

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