Pay Your Artist On Time!

By Shehzar Abro

Shehzar Abro Shehzar's Art Blog

We are usually so prompt about paying for groceries, bills and rent and all the other “important” things in life. We know that if those bills aren’t going to be paid on time, it’ll probably have consequences; you wont have electricity, major corporations will take legal action – which you’ll be liable to pay for, your credit history might be affected.

These large companies have the money to file lawsuits, hire debt collections agency and may even specifically hire someone to chase up unpaid invoices; most artists don’t have the time or cashflow. Yet we feel it is okay to delay payments to these artists. We undermine the people who are already struggling to make a living of a profession that many people see as a luxury and not a need. Those clothes you’re wearing right now: designed by an artist. It is a need.

I recently took up what may be one of the most stressful commissions of my art career. It all starts with a nice email with a “please” and “thank you for your time”. It becomes prominent, however, that some clients may have zero regard for your time. I was given a brief and I quoted a price. Part of the money was transferred over to my account and I started painting. Suddenly I get an email to at least 8 more subjects to the painting – in the same time-frame. Safe to say that the quality of the artwork was compromised because it was rushed.

As an artist, my biggest source of new clients is word of mouth. Which is why it is imperative for me to leave no client unhappy. I was happy to spend some more time on it – but a dated invoice is a dated invoice. You need to pay it on time. The painting has been fixed up and sent back.

Three months later: still no payment. At this point, sending a letter of demand or involving legal authorities seemed like the only option. I sent an email reserving the right to claim legal fee if I did not receive the money ASAP. I get an email back saying I’m being “unprofessional” sending threats.

If you’re one of these people, don’t be. If you’re struggling financially, take your artist into confidence and we can set up a payment plan.

If this person sounds like you, do not email me for a commission.

Pay your artist on time.

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I curated a show at the Pakistani Consulate in Sydney

By Shehzar Abro

I curated a show at the Pakistani Consulate in Sydney

This exhibition showed the works of two photographers who regularly travel within Pakistan to capture it in its essence. Many of us travel beyond our respective homelands for photo opportunities, without fully exploring what our own country has to offer.

Shehzar Abro Artist Curator at Pakistani Consulate

Counting down the days to this photography exhibition, I sat down with Imran Choudhry to talk about his photos. He touched my inner-Pakistani when he spoke:

“I was showing my work at an exhibition in France when multiple people approached me in disbelief that Pakistan was this beautiful. They thought it was Canada or Switzerland or something.”

Chaudhry continued to talk about how in recent times, the image of Pakistan hasn’t been the best through media channels, especially in Europe (where the photographer is based). He felt the need to change this negative image through his camera; by exposing Pakistan for the stunning country that it is.

I was honoured to have been asked to curate this exhibition and thankful to the Consulate General of Pakistan for making it happen.

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I visited Melbourne and loved it.

By Shehzar Abro

I visited Melbourne and loved it.

Feels like the days are becoming shorter as I say "yes" to more things that come my way. Might not be a good thing - but if I stay organised, sacrifice sleep and stop getting distracted, the results would be oh so sweet. 

I'm resuming this blog because it'll help me stay accountable for my thoughts and actions. Projecting my intentions to everyone reading this could help me stay on track.

I just visited Melbourne, did a show, ate some great food and just took in the artistic vibes that surrounded me. Sometimes that's exactly what you need when you're unmotivated. 

Shehzar Abro in Melbourne, Victoria

Other than paid work, I haven't been painting. Those of you who follow me on Instagram can probably tell. While I've been attending animation classes, painting murals and adulting in general, I've found myself avoiding a sit-down with a canvas and some paints.

This week it is all going to change, however. Procrastination is a weakness - it is a good thing to acknowledge your weaknesses. If you don't, you will not grow.

I am also resuming this blog to relate to you guys. I'm always up for a chat on email and I promise I am going to try to reply to all my DMs on Facebook and Instagram. 

Let's also acknowledge that life's good and we are privileged in multiple ways. Be grateful to life. You get what you give - hence, give positive vibes to receive them. 

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Exposure - Is It Worth It?

By Shehzar Abro

Exposure - Is It Worth It?

If only exposure was a currency. The artist would be the highest paid profession in the world. Admit it, you can’t live without us, but you aren’t willing to afford us either. Re-read that last sentence; “aren’t Willing to afford us”.

The unfortunate thing is that young artists are all in a rat race; the difference being that we’re running in a disillusioned direction where the finish line can only be crossed if you constantly tell yourself you don’t need the money as much as you need the publicity.

I received an email brief for what I thought was a commission. After thanking the prospective client for her email, I quoted my usual price. This person had the common courtesy to get back to me (many don’t find the time to reply) and she played the publicity card on me; something along the lines of “I don’t have a budget at all but I was hoping to give some young Pakistani artists exposure”.

She probably felt very noble. I mean this is what the average artist wants today – their art on publications, walls and wherever really. The average artist also wants to make a living of a very rare skill that is extremely undermined.

I don’t solely blame this noble email lady. I blame you, the artist, as well. Here’s a scenario: Two very beautiful models are contacted for a job. One of the models really needs this job because she needs to pay her bills or a student loan. The other model has a rich dad and well money isn’t really her priority, so she says she’d do it for free. I think we all know who’s getting picked. Privilege wins, doesn’t it?

If one artist starts doing it, you’re basically screwing up everyone’s chance of getting picked. Because hey, this one’s desperate enough to just get his name up on that wall so let’s pick him.

Creativity is not retained by everyone when they grow up. People go into Law and Business and Medicine and get a “real job”. That real job pays a minimum wage, below which it is illegal to work in many countries. You need to realise that you, a typical creative, do not even have a minimum wage.

I want to see a change in the way artists sell their work. You need to take a stand. If you can’t do it for everyone else, do it for yourself. In the end, you’re going to have a long list of places you’ve been collected, but only just enough rent for next week. Do it because you respect your profession.

If you’re reading this and you’re not an artist, just don’t contribute to the system. To us, our work is priceless. Yet we only put a price on it to make a living, and it’s hurtful when you think its worth nothing.

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