My 2015 fundraising print, an edition of forty at £10 each, sold out in six days raising £400 for Comic Relief. This year's print is a larger edition of fifty and the individual prints cost more at £15 so while this one has not yet sold out* it has already raised much more money in the two weeks it has been on sale than the 2015 print did. Hurrah!
*see bottom of post for a fantastic update
I am of course thrilled, but once more, as in 2015, I have been heard to mutter "Blimey, I wish all my prints sold this quickly". Why don't they? These special edition prints are priced normally - so why are people so eager to buy these but not my other work? Don't get me wrong, people do buy my other prints (thank you kindly) but hardly in the sell-out rush I've experienced with both of these charity editions.
Well yes of course, the obvious answer is that these are for charity, but my question is WHY should that make such a difference and what is actually going on here?
Let's think about this. The buyer pays the same money and receives the same quality of item. The only difference is that their money has gone to a charity instead of to the artist. The logical corollary is that if the money is going to the artist then that actively makes the purchase less attractive. EXCUSE ME?? Does this mean people feel better about buying art if the artist isn't paid? That the idea of the purchase price going to the person who actually did the work and paid for the materials is positively off-putting?
Surely that can't be it. (But if this is what is happening then please allow me to be a bit upset).
I prefer to give the lovely buying public the benefit of the doubt and I refuse to believe the issue is people begrudging artists. Perhaps then it's that these (non) buyers are begrudging themselves. Perhaps they feel they cannot normally justify spending money on something as indulgent, fun and joy-bringing as art, but if they know the money is going to charity then their consciences are salved and they can give themselves permission. If that is the case then please let me put your mind at rest....
You are doing a Very Good Thing when you buy from a small independent maker, shop or gallery.
You are keeping us afloat, allowing us to continue and keeping the world varied and interesting for everyone. You are preserving individual creativity and craftsmanship and holding back the tide of high street blandness and for that society thanks you. You are having a direct real impact on the lives of the people you buy from and they will love you for it. You have every right to feel a warm fuzzy glow about treating yourself, or a loved one, to that thing you wanted: no guilt required. In the right sidebar of this blog (you might have to scroll down a bit) you will see the logo of a great initiative called Just a Card which was set up to remind buyers that every single purchase you make from small independents, even 'just a card', helps us to survive. Click on the image to be taken to the campaign's site where the founder, Sarah Hamilton, will explain it all much better than I can.
Thank you for reading and if it puts a spring into your step and a lightness in your heart the next time you are out shopping then my job is done.
Update: the last print sold on Red Nose Day itself, 24th March, a couple of days after I wrote the above. The £750 raised is enough to pay for 300 malaria nets, or vaccinate nearly 190 children in Africa against five deadly diseases. It will save lives. It was all totally, utterly worth it.