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5 Things to Never Ask an Artist

Imagine you're at a social gathering and you find yourself conversing with an artist, whose work you admire. You're curious, and many questions pop into your mind.

However, while it's only natural to want to know more about their creative process, there are certain questions that can unintentionally offend or upset an artist.

For instance, asking if they would mind doing a piece of artwork for you for free, might seem innocent enough from your perspective, but to an artist, it could be perceived as a disregard for their time and talent.

As we explore this topic further, you'll gain insights into why some inquiries might be considered inappropriate, and how to avoid these conversational pitfalls.

Key Takeaways

  • Expectation of free artwork devalues artists' time and talent
  • Time-related questions trivialize the artist's expertise and effort
  • Disregarding pricing strategies is disrespectful
  • Choice of style reflects personal growth, artistic journey, and unique vision
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The "Free Artwork" Misconception

misunderstanding about free artwork

One common misconception that severely undermines artists is the expectation of free artwork, a practice that blatantly devalues their time, effort, and creative ingenuity.

This 'free artwork' misconception implies that artists work should hold no monetary value. This is an affront to the hours of dedication, the financial investment in materials, and the years of honing their craft that each piece represents.

You'd never ask a lawyer for free counsel, so why do the same to an artist? It's crucial to respect an artist's time and money. Asking for free artwork shows ignorance of the creative process and the economic realities of being an artist.

Overstepping Boundaries With Time-Related Questions

intrusive inquiries about time

When you're inquiring about an artist's work, it's crucial to steer clear of time-related questions, as they can inadvertently trivialize the artist's expertise and the effort that goes into creating each masterpiece.

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Asking 'How long did it take?' or 'Did it only take 23 hours?' undermines the artistic process, which often involves brainstorming, drafting, and revising. It's not about the time spent, but the skills and creativity applied.

Never ever equate the value of art to the time taken to create it. Remember, artists invest in honing their craft, which is time-intensive itself.

Instead of focusing on time, appreciate the work for its beauty, message, or technique. Respect their process, and you'll respect the artist.

Insensitivity Towards Pricing Strategies

lack of price sensitivity

Just as it's disrespectful to trivialize the time an artist invests in their work, it's equally offensive to disregard their pricing strategies. These strategies aren't random; they reflect the artist's time, training, resources, and the value they attach to their art.

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Avoid insensitivity towards pricing strategies by NEVER:

  • Asking about the cost of supplies.
  • Suggesting prices should be lower.
  • Measuring the worth of art solely based on its price or complexity.
  • Requesting free work or making inappropriate comments.

Misunderstanding Artist's Choice of Style

artistic style misunderstood and criticized

Recognizing an artist's choice of style is critical, as it's a reflection of their personal growth, artistic journey, and unique vision. When you ask an artist to alter their style or mimic another's, you're misunderstanding the artist's choice of style. It's akin to asking them to forsake their creative integrity.

Things to Never Ask an Artist Why?
"Can you copy this other style?" Disregards creative integrity
"Can you change your style?" Disrespects artistic expression
"Why don't you try something different?" Ignores personal growth
"Can you make it more like…?" Overlooks unique vision
"Why is your style like this?" Misunderstands artistic journey
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Just as we develop our own style, a visual artist must be allowed the same freedom. Respect their choice, appreciate their individuality.

Disregarding the Complexity of Art Creation

simplifying the artistic process

Often, people fail to understand the complexity involved in the creation of art, tending to undervalue an artist's work by focusing only on the time and cost of materials it took to create. When you ask an artist 'how much time did it take to make things?', you're disregarding the complexity of art creation and reducing their effort to mere input of time and resources.

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Here's what you shouldn't ask an artist:

  • 'How much did it cost to make this?' It implies you're calculating their profit.
  • 'How long did it take to make this?' You're undermining their expertise.
  • 'Can you copy this work for cheaper?' You devalue their originality.
  • 'Can this be cheaper?' It's dismissive of their value.


So, tread lightly around an artist's territory. Asking for free artwork, prying into their time, questioning their pricing or style, or belittling the complexity of their creation, is akin to pouring salt on their wounds.

Remember, an artist's work is their bread and butter, their heart and soul. It's not just a hobby, it's their livelihood and passion.

So when you step into their world, make sure you do so with respect and understanding.

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