John Picacio Sets A Boundary

Award-winning artist John Picacio told his Facebook readers he will stop displaying art at cons that don’t have a policy of making immediate payment:

As of today, I will no longer participate in convention art shows that don’t pay their working artists their earnings upon exit from art show. Sasquan the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention: This is not in reaction to you, although I trust you’re able to perform better in this regard than many recent conventions have. Conventions I’ve invested in from earlier this year have still not paid my art show earnings. THIS — this payment model is part of the reason why pro artists are choosing to display their works elsewhere and pass on shows of this model. Most working artists cannot afford to display under these cashflow conditions.

Commenters generally endorsed his stance, though another artist, Peri Charlifu, disagreed that it was a hardship to wait the few weeks most cons take to pay.

Picacio’s demand may stress committees that have not adopted technological solutions, but the person who ran last year’s World Fantasy Con art show says there is software that is able to determine what each artist is owed once the show is closed.

Also, the acceptance of credit cards is also common among conventions now – there are tradeoffs with fees and such, but they eliminate the concern people have of waiting for large checks to clear.

9 thoughts on “John Picacio Sets A Boundary

  1. the person who ran last year’s World Fantasy Con art show says there is software that is able to determine what each artist is owed once the show is closed.

    It’s called Point of Sale software. We’ve been using it in retail for a few decades now. I understand that volunteer-based organizations are often behind the times due to lack of resources, but this seems extreme.

  2. As someone with no background, the idea that artists wouldn’t be paid on the spot is baffling to me. Hell, I’m shocked that half of them don’t have their own Square readers to just take payment directly.

  3. I have a vague memory of being pressed into service as part of a non-software credit-card-taking system at the Denvention II (1981) art show. You do want to check that a person has sufficient available credit before accepting their card for a multi-hundred-dollar purchase, and at the time, the procedure was to hand off the credit card and other necessary info to a runner who would take it to a person in a back room, who would pick up a phone and call the credit card company to check.

    So it’s not like cons have never been able to take credit cards until recently, though I wonder if the switch to software-mediated payments caused a drop in cons being able to take them for a while.

  4. My psychiatrist takes credit cards using square. I have to agree with the John Picacio lets get into this century in how payments work at conventions.

  5. I ran an art show for a (now defunct) con years ago. I was livid when I found out that the ConCom had used some of the Art Show funds elsewhere in the Con. I wound up paying half the artists from my own pocket. This was for the best, as it took months to get the funds replaced.

    I agree with John Picacio. The artists earned that money and should leave the Con with the funds. There is even less excuse now, what with the prevalence in electronic funds.

  6. I’m with Picacio. There are multiple packages out there that can give you the real totals at artist checkout time. Marcon’s is an excellent example. Unless the convention cash flow is so horrid the checks would bounce, there’s no reason not to write and hand over a check as the artist leaves the show.

    But that said . . . I think artists would be perfectly happy to get a check mailed within three days. But it doesn’t take a lot of cons that miss their payment deadlines egregiously to make the artist nervous.

  7. Ryan H: artists taking their own payments would be a nightmare for them; they’d have to be around for several hours of sales \and/ they’d have to register for, collect, and remit sales tax (in most states).

    GSLamb, Steve Simmons: electronic funds usually aren’t immediately available to the payee, so the con would have to either cover the shortage for several days or hope that artists didn’t deposit their checks until the con’s credit-card processor cleared the payments. This isn’t a matter of “horrid” cash flow; a good art show at a smaller convention can gross a substantial fraction of the convention’s gross.

  8. @Chip Hitchcock – I understand where you’re coming from, but even (or possibly, due to size, only) small, local Cons have been able to pay artists since even before I worked the art shows along-side the DI (hey, Steve).

    Admittedly, the big-name artists can absorb delays easier than the locals. My wife (an artist whom I met working art shows) and her other artist friends routinely would need money from sales to get back home. In the days of PayPal and Square, I don’t see how this becomes a problem for conventions (or the groups running the art show / auction).

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