Never let yourself cornered by the “we are professionals” flagline.
I guess this happens during the first years of a performers life, when people want to push your prices down because you are new, not “good enough”, not skilled enough, not cirque du soleil enough, but mostly just not confident enough.
But let’s face it we will never be good enough…
Without self-esteem, self-respect and integrity, we go nowhere. (not only in performance art, but in life either)
My experience came on many levels, I was, and maybe still am sometimes (fucking saa-a-aad) the idiot to take advantage of.
Nevertheless, on the professional level, is where I could face and cut this problem the best.
Whatever and whenever I started I faced and am facing this problem.
Advices like and comments like:
“….you’re new you should set your prices below the other dressmakers around here to set up a costumer base…”
“…you say you’re an established performer, although we have never heard of you, but XY was on the cover of… magazine”
“…we get established British pop stars for less and you should consider this as a vacation…”
“…you still have a lot to learn… hoooney…”
“…you’re not much of a big deal…”
“… I don’t think you’ll ever create something truly original…”
Not made up, all said to me.
So woahhh, where does all this disrespect come from? What is wrong with people?
Be clear. People saying any of these, are the ones just a wee too eager to cover their own lack of the professsionelle…
Let say, you do two weeks of aerial training and then apply to whatever famous company. Well, I really doubt that a truly busy and succesful company would have the time or the energy to personally go out their way of creation and shame and humiliate you for the sake of it…
Surely artists lifes are hard, filled with disappointment and rejection. (and art, beauty, inspiration, creation, magic, sparkle, glitter, sunshine etc. To avoid being all tragic)
The owner of the best and worst advice. Here you need to carefully choose whose advice you ask from and derived from there whose advice you take, as there are jealousies going a lot farther than you think.
Better take advice from your elders (not necessarily by age), rather than fellow beginners. Fellow beginners might have all the good will, but just not enough knowledge and experience.
“Yeah, but how about 80 euros for 5 aerial numbers a night? I mean our dancers only get 50 euros…” – Good for them…
“So you could actually make the costumes as well, that way you could earn a little extra (dinerito)…” – before or after rehearsing 10-12 hours a day?
The next time anyone says “dinerito” heads will roll for sure in Melittalandia.
The never to be costumer
So why inquire for a quote, if you are unwilling to pay anything over the price of a double cheese burger and are from the other far end of the globe?
The producer with no idea
“Can you do an hour long aerial act?” – Sure no problem….
” I would like to hire your burlesque act for my children’s party…” – I made this up, but I guess you get it.
Family and (not so) romantic partners
Unsupportive family is one thing, but a romantic partner, who does not support or respect your art is just devastating.
“… I don’t think you’ll ever create something truly original…” – this comment marked the beginning of the end of a marriage… with other things, but this burned deep into my skin.
All those thinking they know better what fits you
They think this or that music, style would fit you, etc. Unrequested, but thank yoy.
Go and find your own style.
So tell me, which is better, telling the truth by saying you never got payed for that job, which was also a disaster on all levels (hearing “Oh babe, how negative…” from the background), or telling everyone how all was fine and dandy and a lovely experience (just because you were on all fliers and admitting that this “peak” of your career was plain bullshit?)
Who is the professional here? Who has integrity?
Have morals and ethics.
If it feels wrong, humiliating, cheap, abusive, most likely it is. Get out of there. Now, on the first quirky comment that pushes your buttons or at latest the second, because there will be a third, a millionth of it. Then deeds. Then regrets, of you not leaving earlier and wasting time.
Listen to your gutt. Respect yourself.
You need it, desperately, we all do.
Look in the mirror and see who you are as an artist, better to overvalue yourself than to undervalue.
So be careful, screaming professional does not always mean being professional.