Earlier this year
36ers Indigenous round disgrace
So an indigenous artist named Elizabeth Close posted this on her FB page yesterday and it makes my skin crawl.
Surely in 2019, large organisations with millions of dollars of annual revenue, are not *still* asking Aboriginal Artists to work for free... right?
Gosh it's almost like I’ve been here before! *cough* Qantas *cough*
On Friday of last week I received an email from the Adelaide 36ers asking me if I wanted to design their Indigenous Round jersey. I told them I’d be delighted and I planned to meet with the CEO and Marketing manager to discuss.
On the day of the meeting, both the CEO and marketing manager pulled out due to illness so I met with the media and merchandise guys. We spoke about how some sporting clubs were leading the way in terms of their commitment to Reconciliation. They asked for a quote for artwork supplied in vector format (normally this is a graphic design thing but it is actually something I can do myself - but it’s not a standard thing that all artists do) and in a very tight timeframe (two weeks until final submission). They said they didn’t know what kind of budget the CEO and CFO’s have in mind, but "send us a quote".
We parted ways and I went away and came up with a quote for the professional services to create vector artwork following their strict style guide and palette, and a licensing fee for the use on merchandise and so forth; in line with the industry standard and projects I have done of similar scope for similar sized organisations.
Before it was sent however, I received an email from the media manager advising me that he had spoken to the CEO who told him that the 36ers don’t actually have a budget allocated for this. They blamed the NBL for having “only just” announced the Indigenous Round (last December) - after their budgets had already been allocated. However, in lieu of payment, they were happy to come to an arrangement by giving me “contra” in the form of free tickets to the game etc. They went on to say how this will build my profile because they have “92K followers” on social media (there are 46K on Facebook and 25K on Instagram but whatever man, details!)
iT wILL bE sUcH gOoD eXpOsUrE
So the 36ers are demanding a professional service, over and above that of an artist; but also a graphic design service to vectorise the artwork, but are expecting not to have to pay for that service... I’m assuming therefore that they paid the graphic designer who designed their original jersey in free tickets, caps and drink bottles, right? And the plumber who fixed the blocked toilet in the office got paid in hoodies and giant inflatable novelty hands? I think not. Not to mention the fact that my professional services - my artwork, isn’t just aesthetic. My practice is underpinned by my culture - which is hard to place value on, but that value definitely isn’t free tickets to a basketball game.
My project manager was polite and gracious, and told them that this practice was not only unethical and unreasonable, but it was terrible PR. She even suggested to the 36ers to look to their sponsors - who of those has a Reconciliation Action Plan and might see this as an opportunity to act on that plan by helping to fund it? This suggestion was ignored.
The 36ers are holding firm on this, despite the CEO being told just how completely unethical this is. He responded by suggesting that I was wasting my time and theirs because apparently I knew from the start that they weren’t paying for it. Which begs the question.... why then did your staff ask me for a quote at the initial meeting? Now he’s; thanks but no thanks, “considering other options” which I interpreted as “I’ll find a more emerging artist to exploit instead”.
Why do the 36ers want an Indigenous jersey anyway? Do they want it because they believe in the spirit of Reconciliation and celebrating First Nations Australians in basketball? Or do they want it because it’s the trendy thing to do? to look like you’re culturally switched on, and use it for media opportunities?
Can they not see the absolute irony of exploiting an Aboriginal Artist in their effort to make themselves look woke, and engaged in Aboriginal issues and Reconciliation?!
Let me get this straight....You’re such a progressive, culturally competent organisation, as evidenced by your virtue signalling with your on-trend Indigenous Jersey, yet you think so little of the professional services provided by the Aboriginal Artist who designed it, that you think it’s entirely appropriate to demand professionalism, but not pay for those professional services.....
Also if you actually “really loved my work” like you said, then you probably should have googled me - then you’d have known that I don’t tolerate rubbish like this lying down. Due diligence, guys!