Most of us artists are not in the Damien Hirst bracket. The mean income of fine artists is estimated in studies at around £4500pa, a figure to be born in mind when calling for the minimum threshold to be raised to £3000 (Editor’s Comment, ATG No 2286).
We usually have a second, often low-paid, job in the arts (gallery attendants, teaching art and so on) and in supporting the antiques trade: we are often those working for contractors transporting art or the people building stands at fairs or in museums, hangers or framers.
I myself have written two collectors’ guides, as well as overseeing the content of BBR Auction’s magazines, and I am curating a photography exhibition.
Without artists the antiques trade would be without its future stock and quite a bit of support. So the trade’s irritation with resale rights is a little galling when a commercial gallery will typically charge me 50% commission on sales. Anyone under the impression that galleries ‘take care’ of artists should disabuse themselves of the idea.
Most of us do not have representation, have no written contracts but are expected to frame, hang, deliver and promote. Although frequently expected to supply a list of our buyers, no such reciprocity is usually forthcoming from the gallery. I realise they have all the usual outlays but so do I (I pay overheads on the studio I rent).
How many of your readers have benefited from ‘rediscovering’ the works preserved or from the books loyally written by an artist’s family (the sale of an unknown Auguste Herbin work you previewed in ATGNo 2284 being an example)?
As for auctioneers, other than notices that ARR ‘might be applicable’, I do not see them making great efforts to ask buyers to comply.
Most of the above relates to primary market sales but that many of us continue to create work is usually because we have supportive family or partners who put up with shouldering an unequal burden in the household.
After my death they will be left with the issue of taking care of the works I leave and fielding any queries from interested resellers.
I think therefore, just as copyright applies after death, the small return that time-limited ARR offers is not so very onerous.
Artist and editor BBR magazine
BBR Auctions, Elsecar