It's an age-old dilemma for artists: is working for “good exposure” really worth it?

On one hand, you want your art business to grow and your name to be recognized. But on the other hand, you shrink at the thought of being taken advantage of. People in other professions get paid for their time and work, right?

In the end, it really boils down to what you can make of the situation and what you are really gaining from it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when taking on “good exposure” gigs for your art.

Think About the Hidden Perks

Before you turn your back on the opportunity, brainstorm a bit about what benefits you might be able to get out of the situation other than money, suggests The Working Artist Crista Cloutier.

Are you allowed to have prints available for sale nearby?

Can the organization promote or link to you on their website or social media channels?

Can you set up a guestbook to collect contact information of potential buyers?

Can you host any showings or events in the space?

Is the venue willing to do a trade instead of payment — your art on display in exchange for a few of their goods or services?

You may even be able to entice the staff like Crista did with a small commission if they help sell your work.

Little perks like these when added to the equation make the possibility of “good exposure” more enticing. Think about the current goals of your art business and if these benefits will help you meet them.

Just keep in mind that exposure is only good if you are reaching your target buyers, which leads us to our next point.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

It’s okay to get a little more information before signing on. Just because you aren’t getting paid, doesn’t mean this isn’t a business proposition. Clients and galleries who mean well will understand and be happy to answer your questions. And, if you’re worried about coming off as pushy, don’t be. As long as you are polite and professional, it’s just good business to make sure your interests are taken care of, too.

Be sure to pin down information like what type of customers frequent the venue and what the process is if a buyer is interested in purchasing your art. If you’re afraid of skimming over any important details, ask the questions on this list.

Finally, create a contract. While it’s not always common in the art world, it should be. It’s a good business practice to make sure everyone knows what they are accountable for and to protect yourself in the case of trouble. If a potential venue refuses to sign or answer your questions or you’re still left with an uneasy feeling in your gut, it’s probably time to pull a U-turn.

What do you think?

We get it. The words “good exposure” floating around a group of artists might be enough to start a riot. It’s not a cut and dry win for your art career, but it also doesn’t have to be a loss. With some extra effort and investigative skills, there’s a chance it could really benefit your art business if you snag the right opportunity.

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