"It was actually Dyenamix that printed and dyed the majority of the materials for the Ode a L'Oubli," wrote Marasco. "Judith did, in fact, construct the pages and assemble the book and printed the silkscreened pages, but she was not the only print house providing the process for the project. We actually provided the printed or dyed fabric for 27 of the 34 pages in the book."
This is a terrific example of an artist standing up for herself and her business. I admired her for contacting me and providing me with the information. I immediately added the clarification in red and noted the ommission with regret, including a public apology. Marasco has invited me to visit her SoHo studio, and I look forward to doing so soon. I expect a blog post will come out of the visit.
Mistakes can happen, but it’s what happens next that is the subject of this post.
Here’s what happened to me recently: At the invitation of an institution where I had recently produced a wildly successful encaustic painting conference, a local public TV station created a video for airing. Whether by design or incompetence, the taping took place during a short period when I was away! Perhaps not surprisingly then, my role was not noted; indeed, my name was not even mentioned. I was shocked and appalled not only at the omission but because the institution continued—continues—to promote a video in which it appears to take credit for my work. I saw it only because an art professional in the area emailed me the URL and said, "Stop what you're doing and look at this video now." There's quite a lot more to the story, but that's the gist of it.
What kind of conference leader would I have been if I had continued with the institution and said or done nothing? What kind of artist? What kind of Marketing Mondays writer?
These are some of the situations in which you may need to stand up:
. You get your work on the cover of a magazine, only to see the “On the Cover” info omitted from an inside page. Let the editor know. Usually this error is rectified in the following issue, though it's small consolation when you're denied the immediate pleasure of seeing your name associated with the work.
. Your work is printed upside down, or with a misspelled name. Having worked in publishing, I can tell you that these things do happen. Let the editor know. A responsible editor makes every effort to find a place in the following issue to reprint the image right-side up--but don't expect a full page; it will be a tiny image and a short correction. Unfortunately, this is not possible with a postcard that has already been sent out. A follow-up email announcement might help, but of course it's not the same as that stand-alone little card which often has a visual shelf life of months or years. If a dealer makes a habit of these kinds of mistakes, well, you know what you have to do.
. Your name is omitted from the announcement of a group show. You are set to promote the show on your blog and, uh, there's no mention of you. Create a postcard with an image of your own work to announce the show. A decent institution or gallery will pay for the printing, or at least share in the expense. But of course you have to ask. Make sure you send out an e-announcement with an image of your work; include everyone's name on the list of exhibitors.
Standing up for yourself is not just about media issues, of course:
. What about the artist who sees his or her hard work claimed by another? Or copied? Or used without attribution? This is legal territory, and you'd do well to contact the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in your area.
. What about the painting that has been damaged? The work that has gone missing? Accidents do happen. Some dealers will work with you immediately to find or create a reasonable solution--and payment is a reasonable solution. Others may need repeated requests to deal with the situation; some may need legal prompting. Proceeding aggressively will probably damage your relationship with the gallery. Then again, do you really want to continue with a gallery that treats you and your work so poorly? This may be another time to contact the VLA.
. What about the check from a dealer or consultant that has been "in the mail" for six months now? I covered this issue a few months ago in Where's My Money? and When Bad Things Happen (talk about standing up: Click onto the video link at the bottom of this latter post to see the TV news clip of Donald Baechler discussing his lawsuit with the Loew Gallery in Atlanta).
In standing up for yourself, you may need to challenge an institution, a gallery, a group, or another individual. It’s not easy to take that stand. You may actually find yourself blamed for the situation! But inaction is not an option. Just remember that reporting a story, stating an opinion, and recounting your experience honestly are not grounds for libel (words in print) or slander (spoken words); speaking out to stand up for yourself is a First Amendment right.
So, over to you: What was your situation and how did you handle it? How did you stand up for yourself? How did you follow up? What was the fallout? Was there litigation? If it makes you feel more comfortable to omit the specific names, that’s OK. This post is about how we stand up for ourselves, our reputations, our careers.