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We had an art donation earlier this last year involving specific chosen employees who have displayed adequate skills. Of these employees there has been several who have far above average skills (I believe they will actually sell something) and of one of those employees, is even far above that and is a celebrity in the art world. I am not entirely sure why he works here as he clearly doesn't have to work.

After we had finished setting up the show and with less than two days before it begun, our artistic genius throws a giant tantrum and goes on about how nobody truely understands him or something. The day of the show, maybe one hour before he starts, he replaced all of his pieces with trash glued to a plate. These was common items found around the office like a crushed coffee cup and some wrappers. He then named these pieces after us, but in a very clever way that doesn't directly say it. Needless to say, there were a lot of people who were hurt at his mockery of the donation drive and even more hurt as someone actually paid $200 for what is essentially trash.

We plan on having another one of these donation art shows and I want to know how can I prevent these things from ever happening again (the run away diva)? As much as I want to flat our ban him from attending, wealthy people are flying in from other states to meet with him and see his work.

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  • Hello, are you his superior? have you or anyone talked with him about this? – Homerothompson Mar 27 at 15:05
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    someone actually paid $200 for what is essentially trash - Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You see it as trash but someone else obviously sees it as art. wealthy people are flying in from other states to meet with him and see his work - Is your goal to sell these people works of art? If so, why would you ban this person? It seems you probably already know what you need to do. – joeqwerty Mar 27 at 15:06
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    OK, I just got your uername. Clever! – joeqwerty Mar 27 at 15:08
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    Can you give a little more context? You've referred to "employees" but you've also stated that you're not this person's superior. What type of organization is this, what is your role, and what is this person's role (as an employee, not a "genius"). – dwizum Mar 27 at 17:43
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    While it's not specifically stated in your question I'm assuming you are raising money for some charity. Why are you doing this style of fund raiser again? It seems unusual and has apparently failed before in that it lead to hurt feelings. – Myles Mar 28 at 21:18
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I don't think you can definitely prevent these things from happening again, if you want this person's continued participation.

Consider that the artist in question almost certainly understands their celebrity, and that their participation in the art show alone is drawing in wealthy people to attend (whether or not this person even submits a piece). That's the major part of a donation-themed event: to get people with money to come, and maybe leave some of their money behind. It's virtually guaranteed that this person understands that the art shows will be more successful due to their own participation, and is likely to use that clout to enforce their own preferences.

Trying to constrain someone like you've described here seems difficult. In the example of the previous art show, this person felt slighted by circumstance in some undefined way and then responded with behavior that they (apparently) thought was appropriate.

Efforts to get this person to behave in exactly one way may be fine (they might agree with the rules and not really care), but their agreement will only last until they change their mind and decide to do something totally different. So it's not a meaningful constraint. Unless the person wants to go along with your preferences indefinitely the most likely outcomes will be further "clever" ways of getting around your strategies, or a simple refusal to participate in future art shows.

If you think the art shows are worthwhile without this person's contribution, then by all means make any rules you think are appropriate-- but be prepared for this person to chafe and withdraw.

If you want to keep this person as a participant in the art shows, there's just not any way to guarantee any particular behaviors. According to what's written in the question, this person doesn't need you, the job, or your art shows. So you don't have much leverage.

Finally, art and strict rules about content (and, more pointedly, artists and strict rules about content) often clash. If you want this person's real, artistic contributions, you'll have to endure the risk that you won't like or be flattered by those contributions, and will probably enjoy extra money from selling them.

If you want to profit from the talent, you'll have to respect it, and if you want to respect the talent you'll have to respect the person (even if they make that challenging).

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We plan on having another one of these donation art shows and I want to know how can I prevent these things from ever happening again

Either curate the specific pieces, or change your plan and scrap the shows.

This is why we can't have nice things.

  • I plan on coming up with a wall, such as curating rather than a skill level, thanks. – PainTing Mar 27 at 19:43
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We plan on having another one of these donation art shows and I want to know how can I prevent these things from ever happening again (the run away diva)?

Set specific guidelines for what type of art is permissible at the art show to ensure that no "trash" art can be submitted. The next step is to require a deadline before the actual day of the art show to turn in the artwork. The art can then be reviewed before the show and any pieces violating the policy can be set aside and not included. Make no exceptions to these rules and the next art show should be fine in terms of content.

  • Unfortunately, not sure if OP has that sort of 'directorial' power or influence. – Sourav Ghosh Mar 27 at 15:30
  • @SouravGhosh The question implies that he was involved in the original art show and will be involved in the next one, maybe he can't unilaterally make decisions about the show but it seems he can at least offer input. – sf02 Mar 27 at 15:48
  • Yes, I can't single handedly change the rules, but I plan on bringing it up. – PainTing Mar 27 at 19:09
  • If you make clear rules about not including "trash", I'd wager the art genius will try their best to include "trash" or worse in the most rule binding way possible. In the end it will all be subjective whether a piece is accepted or not which opens up for more tantrums, so selectively ruling things out might as well be a ban for him since whatever he does will be done out of spite. Either accept the negativity or give the other participants more attention by removing him entirely. – lucasgcb Mar 28 at 9:11
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Don’t do this.

Doing a donation drive with items that your employees are emotionally invested in is a bad idea. Most people that produce art are very attached to their work and often derive part of their self worth from their art and how it’s perceived.

When running a show like this you will always have to make decisions that “judge” the quality of the work: Who is in, who is out. Who gets a good spot. Who sells more, who sells less. Who gets complimented, who doesn’t . It’s impossible to do this without offending or hurting the feelings of at least a few people.

You can’t win this one, so I’d change the format of the event end sell stuff that's less emotional (food, clothing, nick nacks, etc)

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Not sure you can prevent it.

One thing you can do it get the donations far enough in advance and have a cutoff point. This would allow you to publish (web site or paper) the specific pieces that will be available at the auction and have the snowflake artist sign off that he is donating them.

When s/he throws a new fit and wants to remove them from the show, you have two options.

The first option, which I would not recommend, is to tell him/her, "You may not withdraw the piece." In many areas a gift freely given can be taken back - but not if it is give to a charity.
(And "it isn't a charity it's a company" is just the first reason that this isn't a good plan)

The second option is just to ignore the fit and when that slot comes up at auction have the auctioneer announce:

"As mentioned on our web site on [posting date] the next lot [name/number] donated on [donation date] by [artist] was withdrawn by the artist on [withdraw date]".

And then move on as though it isn't a big deal.

Leave the jerk artist on the hook for the situation they caused.

Mention the withdrawal on your web site immediately - anyone planning to come to just bid on this piece should be given as much notice as possible. Don't allow a replacement (substitution piece).

The fit s/he threw last year worked apparently, so you should expect a repeat performance (probably with a twist).

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throws a giant tantrum

And this answers your question why does he work where he work.

He went Banksy on you. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if he planned this from the start just to mess with people. After all, he don't need that art money. He have a stead job.

Either, if you plan on not banning him from participation (done in the art world), you keep on his donated stuff and forbid it from being removed or switched.

Or if there are people coming especially for him go with it. Prepare the popcorn and just watch that beautiful disaster. In the end you only doing it for the money. Banksy out.

  • "He went Banksy on you", given that nobody knows who Banksy is and his work just "appears" then that is an invalid description – Peter M Mar 27 at 17:33
  • ^ I think answerer is referring to the Banksy sale and shredding incident @PeterM - bbc.com/news/uk-england-bristol-45770028 – NKCampbell Mar 28 at 17:32
  • @NKCampbell That may be the interpretation, but Banksy planned from the start to do that, whereas the OP's snowflake seemed to simply throw a tantrum. – Peter M Mar 28 at 19:53

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