Fame and Folly

2012  |  At Rest  | © Michael C. Lam


It’s not a local issue, but it’s one that many artists have to face in the developing world more than their contemporaries in the “first world” (not saying that they don’t face it too, just to a lesser degree)   –  “We want to use your work for free, you’ll get exposure”.

Every artist at some time thinks about “Fame”, we’d like to get our work out there, for one piece to cross that invisible line that separates the millions of works of art that go relatively unnoticed and the few that make it to the galleries, the collectors’ circles and the list of “masterpieces”, one that becomes instantly recognisable upon sight throughout the art-world.

Most artists will strive to get there, but few ever attain it, this often has little to do with skill or artistic expression, and it also has little to do with the “exposure” that the hungry marketers want us to believe will catapult us to fame.


2012  |  Last Stand  |  © Michael C. Lam


Each famous artist’s path to glory is different, and we as artists have to “work” at it, not expect it to be handed to us or to become a household name by having our work used by marketers for “exposure”, those marketers are making something out of it, the artist is not, and I’ve yet to hear of artists who got the call shortly after one of these “events” for a commission or for one of their pieces to be bought.

A photographer’s photo in your magazine will make the reading experience of your clientele a bit more enjoyable, but no one will read the fine print to find out who the photographer is so that they can “buy” any of their pieces,

A sculptor’s work that took several months to complete may look nice in your hotel lobby, but none of your guests will enquire who the sculptor is to commission a piece for themselves.

A painting in your foyer will make it more welcoming, but no one stops to ask who the painter is that they may acquire a piece just as beautiful.


2011  |  dry docked?  |  © Michael C. Lam


We are artists, our work is a product of our intellect, our imagination, our skill, our craft…  it is not yours to use for your own benefit while we receive promises of exposure, such promises are meaningless and degrading to the artist.

If you want that sculpture in the lobby, buy it, it is a product of blood, sweat and tears, not an idea brought to life on a whim in mere hours…  If you want that sketch of a building that caught your eye, buy it, don’t promise the artist that you’ll hang it prominently in your boardroom for “important” people to see it…  if you want my photograph for your publication that IS paying everyone else concerned with its production, then pay me, I invested in gear, I invested my time, I invested my skill, imagination and artistic vision in it.

I may never be famous, but it is folly to believe that I do not deserve to be paid for what is rightfully mine.


2011  |  Shooting the breeze  |  © Michael C. Lam


If you’ve reached this far down, thanks for reading my rant 🙂

Click on the images to see them in their respective galleries in the Collection.


Advertisements