I’m not sure if these people are trolling or just extraordinarily dense, but several members of Market Project have been spammed this week by I.C.A. Publishing about being in their International Contemporary Artists book. Wow, you don’t have to pay any participation or entry fee to be in the book! (They say as if it’s normal for an artist to pay a participation or entry fee to be in a book- FYI, to those who still don’t understand this, if you’re a professional and it’s a professional publication, you won’t be paying to be in it and/or they’ll be paying you a fee, paying royalties, etc.) But it is mandatory that you buy- in advance of publication, naturally- at least two books from them at a cost of €170 (€85/£67 per book). If you want more than one page in the book it costs €150 per page.
They say “it takes more than talent for an artist to be successful” and it’s definitely true, but the “more” an artist needs is not more money to piddle up the wall, more gullibility, more naivety or more desperation. And you do also need some talent to begin with, because all the “more” in the world won’t help you if you don’t have any talent. A lot of would-be artists seem to forget or delude themselves about that crucial talent part.
All the other hallmarks of the vanity arts service sector are present and correct: bad English and fractured grammar, fawning, drooling, barely literate testimonials (including somebody foaming at the mouth about how great ICA Publishing are and how they shouldn’t be “slandered”- uh oh!*), ugly book design- seriously, shouldn’t an art book not look like it was designed in MS Word?- and amateurish site design, weird, unprofessional snapshots next to self-aggrandising autobiographies, etc.
Maybe the artists’ work is good and it’s unjustly denied to the world by not being exhibited? No. Look upon their works, ye mighty, and despair. If you’d rather save your time and your temper, I can tell you now that the artists in these books are on a fairly narrow band of the spectrum that runs from merely mediocre, taking in talentless hacks and people who possibly deserve our pity and compassion because they’re mentally ill, before travelling all the way to the most distant extremes of completely and utterly appalling. Imagine my surprise.
Most crucially of all, anyone who seriously imagines that commissioners of art, buyers of art, and people who run credible public or commercial galleries would ever in a million years take it upon themselves to go looking for artists in books like this needs to stop deluding themselves, stop wasting their money and get real.
* NOTE: I briefly tried finding some of this “slander” (sic), but failed. Reader findings and contributions of any experience they’ve had with ICAP are welcome! However, I did find two useful, succinct summaries of why pay-to-play art opportunities are mostly futile and don’t benefit artists, on a site by an art consultant called Alan Bamberger. This one won’t win any awards for its aesthetic qualities either, but he provides a good, basic and patient laying out of the issues for those naive or desperate enough to even be considering dealing with the vanity arts sector as an option.