Tag Archives: vanity galleries


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


27 Feb

Named for the Italian con artist Carlo (or Charles) Ponzi, who in the 1920s relieved investors of about $420,000 (equivalent to about $4.5 million if he’d done something similar in the 21st century). The main characteristics of what’s now called a Ponzi Scheme is that it pays “profits” to investors from their own money, or from the money provided by subsequent investors. They rarely make any legitimate profits. They’re often based on vague promises and unrealistic projections, as indeed are many of the originally legal schemes like hedge funds; hedge funds can also very easily degenerate into illegal Ponzi schemes when they go wrong, and this has happened with particular frequency since the turn of the last century. Ponzi Schemes inevitably collapse either on purpose– because the fraudster makes off with all the money, as they always intended to– or when investment stalls.

Of course Ponzi was neither the first nor the last to operate in this way for his own enrichment. In an infamous case of 2008-2009, Bernie Madoff was eventually sentenced to 150 years in prison for the biggest securities fraud/Ponzi Scheme in history, with losses to investors costing $65 billion.

Now let me suggest a scenario to you, the arty people who read this blog: a large number of artists pay an “entry fee” or “administration fee” in order to have their work considered for an exhibition or a prize. There will be vague promises of it being your big break, that big knobs will see your work, an implication of nothing ventured nothing gained, that you have to speculate to copulate or something like that, I don’t know what the phrase is. Only a few of the entrants, or only one, will actually receive anything. Most will receive nothing, but they’ve all paid for the person who did get something… which is much more likely to be the person or business who’s running the competition than it’s likely to be any of  the entrants. This is also a form of Ponzi Scheme, don’t you think?



27 Feb


Ten international galleries want you, like a vampire bat wants sleeping cattle. Premio Ora (“Premium Hours”) says that the “basic registration fee required as partial coverage for organizational expenses” is €60 to enter three art works for consideration. Poor things, only covering their organisational expenses partially. Each additional image after the first three is only €5 and luckily for them you, it’s possible to enter an unlimited number of works.

Yes, it’s another sketchy “opportunity” for artists to enter a competition where they pay for the remote opportunity of possibly getting an unpaid gallery show, i.e. something that an artist should usually be paid for, or at the very least should not have to pay for in order to be considered. I’m providing links here for the purpose of verification; I wouldn’t suggest visiting any of them unless you want to know which international galleries are involved in this farrago and I would therefore recommend in the strongest possible terms that you don’t ever have any dealings with whatsoever.

A bona fide artist who is having an exhibition at an art gallery is not a “winner” and does not pay all the costs of transporting and exhibiting their work. Any artist who does so is a customer, and they should have their service– i.e. in this case their work shown in the gallery for two weeks– provided to them without quibbles and without all this pretence of meritocratic selection or curatorial oversight. Continue reading


8 Nov

Update, November 2012: With the next edition of the OAF coming up in a few weeks time, and despite several (unethical) private requests from Ryan Stanier of the OAF that I delete my last post about the OAF (read it here first if you haven’t already) or amend it so as to make unfavourable/critical parts of that previous article disappear into the Memory Hole because he claims I’m damaging his business– requests which only ceased when I expressly told him only to contact me here in public on this blog because I would no longer engage in back-channel communications of any kind– I did promise him I would correct anything I’d written that was factually incorrect.

Thanks to a reader who emailed me with new information, I’m therefore happy to issue the following correction: exhibiting at the OAF doesn’t cost £600, it costs £690+VAT (i.e. +£138=£828). Reference: http://www.theotherartfair.com/information-for-artists/why-apply. I unreservedly apologise for underestimating the cost to an artist of showing their work at the Other Art Fair. In light of this information, readers may like to reassess Ryan’s assertions (in the comments of my first OAF article) that the average exhibitor makes sales amounting to £1200 over the course of two OAF outings. I can help you by doing the maths right away: assuming the artist pays VAT and Ryan’s information is correct, then 2x£828=£1656-£1200=£456 LOSS over two OAFs. We can’t know if Ryan is using “average” in a strictly mathematically correct manner– probably not– but even if we take “average” in its general colloquial sense to mean “roughly in the middle of the gamut” this still means a significant number of exhibitors make less than £828, i.e. a much greater financial loss. Even the above average exhibitor needs to make sales of at least £1656 over two shows (or £828 in one) to break even or go into any profit at all. This is without even factoring in the costs to the artist of materials, the labour of making the work to begin with,  plus shipping, travel, and subsistence (including a London hotel stay for some participants).

Not that the OAF is alone in operating on the assumption that all of these costs are things that can be and should be absorbed by the artist, (or by anybody, really, apart from themselves) because many private or public art galleries throughout Britain and the world, and many recipients of regular Arts Council England funding– up to and including major flagship institutions– operate, represent themselves and manage their budgets with exactly the same wilfully deceptive mathematics that outsource and hide the true costs and huge amount of free or underpaid labour that are essential to their continued existence. And most of these costs and labour are invariably shouldered by the very people who are already the least respected, most exploited and least remunerated: the artists, and the unpaid interns, and the unpaid interns who want to be artists. Continue reading

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