When I went into work this morning, I had an interesting assignment waiting for me. It was the process of downloading, digitally “cleaning up,” resizing, labeling and entering a certain photographer’s photos into our inventory. This is a project that I’ve known about for a while, but also one that I am not too happy about performing. The main reason is that it is for a client that is not really acting within the boundaries of ethics that they set for this project. A little background on this: we have been accepting artist submissions and applications for this client for a year and a half – as of today. As per the client’s instructions, we were not allowed to answer artists’ individual inquiries on the project; they had to simply rely on the mailed and advertised information. The reason for this is because they wanted a fair and equal process for all artists submitting to this project, so that every artist had an equal chance to have their artwork considered. This, in and of itself, is reasonable. It seems fair. Not only that, but both our client and our company wanted to cut down on the potential thousands of calls we could receive, asking us for information. So, we received entries from over a thousand artists, and narrowed that list down to around 250 people who actually had good quality, appropriate artwork for the project. Now, even though we have gone through this tedious process of going through pages of artwork and applications, spending hundreds of our own hours and asking artists for many of their own, we start receiving requests from our client to consider certain artists who are heavily connected with their foundation and board members – one actually being a sister of the coordinator. I am not the most ethical, play-by-the-rules person myself, but I don’t find the blatant hypocrisy and disregard for all of the time and effort that everyone has put into this project, thus far, to be appropriate, especially if they knew they were going to cherry-pick from their own specific list of artists to begin with. So, back to the original story. . . we are currently working with a “hand-picked” artist for a series of figurative, black and white photographs. We had another artist (a better, more affordable artist) slotted for this before this artist’s name was suggested. We tried, numerous times, to coerce the client into going with the right, and better, choice – we submitted proposals, comparisons, and our own suggestions – but to no avail. In the end, the client’s choice won. So, now I am sitting here, begrudgingly working with an artist we shouldn’t be using, on a project where the clients are publicly touting their fair and balanced, equal-opportunity art program while silently tugging the strings and manipulating the art choice in their and their friends’ favor. In my younger years, I would have edited in something that, perhaps, didn’t quite belong in the pictures if I were this disgusted with the client. However, that disgust alone would not justify me doing something unethical, and I would like to think I have grown to be the kind of person that would not commit a wrong to counteract an original wrong. So, I guess I will just suck it up, get over my disgust, and just do the job I am paid to do. When it comes to your job, you have to pick your battles, and this one singular episode is not a battle worth fighting.
September 24, 2007