I am not a 'joiner'. I am not a 'people person'. I am solitary, prickly, and on most days absorbed in my work. I don't like to be distracted. I don't respond well to those who try.None of this should be a surprise to anyone who reads this blog. And yet I have lost count of how many people email me or worse, ring me up and ask me to do them a favour – as a fellow artist'. None of them qualify as acquaintances, let alone as friends.
The range of such favours can be wide – from lending them money to introducing them to a dealer or helping them to promote a show. It's not enough that I've shared the mechanics of how I've managed my own career on this blog for the past four years. I'm expected to talk them through what I've written because they can't be bothered to read it. Last year, after doing a series of high profile interviews about my decision to abandon commercial galleries and promote and sell my art using the web, I had a number of calls from artists wanting my support for a sort of artist's union. They didn't get that what I wanted was to burn down the whole archaic, abusive system – not negotiate terms under which I could continue to work within it. Every conversation began or ended with a not-so-veiled appeal to my non-existent guilt for being successful, crude slivers of emotional blackmail meant to encourage me to lend a hand to 'a fellow artist'.Yesterday was the last straw. I received an email from another total stranger. It read, "Hi Dooney Studio. I'm rebuilding my site and love the clean layout of yours. Could you advise where I can grab this template? Many thanks for helping a fellow artist."As if. Many artists and galleries have copied my website since I paid to have it designed and built to my specifications, back in 2003. Frankly, it's a little dated now, if not yet past its 'use-by' date, but I still don't take kindly to someone I've never met thinking it's ok not just to tell me they intend to copy it but to ask me to provide the template. I don't care if a 'fellow artist' doesn't have the originality, imagination or drive I do to promote themselves and sell their art on their own terms. It's hard fucking graft and damn few are suited to it. I don't see it as any part of my responsibility to be available to help them. I've helped scores of young artists – and others – who have demonstrated that they have what it takes. When it comes to those who don't, I have a ruthless disregard: Plenty more where you came from.