Unfortunately, I understand that the new hostel didn't pay the artists to paint.

I hope I'm wrong about this. I find it appalling that artists providing work that has a quantifiable payoff for a business get stiffed.

When artists do work like this it is not an "opportunity" as so many business owners assume. It is quite clearly a mutually beneficial relationship, and like any business deal, the artists should be compensated.
wait - the Guy Anderson in the 4 Seasons is a REPRODUCTION? why the FUCK don't i get to see any Guy Andersons IN THE FUCKING SAM?
The hostel opened during the Belltown Artwalk LAST friday. I sent you guys two e-mails about it, but I guess they got lost in the shuffle? :(

There's been a number of stories featured on about the project. Also a couple flickr sets of the work in progress.

-Cheers, Jesse
Also, just for reference. The name of the hostel is "City Hostel Seattle".

Here's an article we featured at the end of July on the Hostel;…

Here's some great flickr sets of the work in progress;…

Do you have a financial or other interest in this business?

Do you have any knowledge on weather or not the artists were paid?

If not, can you elaborate on why this business did not compensate these workers? And also please explain why these hard-working artists aren't worth a reasonable wage.

After all, I'm sure the front desk clerks and janitors are compensated. Why not the artists? Is their skilled labor worth less than the receptionist?

Oh, Joe, I know it was a lot of work and sometimes it felt downright criminal that no one was paid to paint (I should know, I was there, painting away on an artist's support team) but it truly IS an opportunity. The exposure is huge, and I know the owners are working hard to get some high-profile press like Juxtapoz. But you didn't paint a room there, so why are you complaining?
Ugh. Typical Four Seasons: Stick-up-the-butt and mortuary-like. Celebrating the infinite shades of beige.

Those rooms are rooms that only rich old people could love.
I don't have any financial interest. I'm just a neighborhood blogger and am excited as hell to see a project this cool in the belltown area.

As for the artists - I don't know, shoot them an email. All 47 of them signed up to do this. Lee (the guy who runs it) is an awesome guy and really wants to expose these artists to a larger audience.

Just an example, each month the lobby gallery will feature one of the artists who painted a room.

Another example - bands will get to stay for free at the hostel if they do an acoustic set that will be free to the public.

You should really swing by and ask some questions though, get to know Lee. He'd be happy to show you around.

While it is true that the art in the guest rooms are reproductions of art from SAM's collections, there is also a great deal of art scattered in the public areas and higher-end suites in the hotel that are original works by notable Northwest artists.…
No we weren't paid and yes that disturbs me, but I did a room anyway. Here are my thoughts on the matter:…

It sucks when a "Art Hostel" doesn't support artists in a meaningful way by paying them for the 3 weeks of work they put into the job. Artist really need to organize so that they can collectively bargain against such exploitation. A bunch of the folks that did work on this expressed reservations but still did the project because they didn't want to miss out on any perceived exposure.
To More, I Say! -

NKO and I declined the “opportunity” to paint this hostel because we felt the owners of were taking advantage of the artists.

“Opportunity” and “exposure” are words that people use to take advantage of artists.

And if you want exposure, simply create meaningful art and contact Juxtapose yourself. That’s how NKO and I do, and it works just fine.

Perhaps next time you could identify yourself. I never understand why people are afraid to identify themselves when posting…Otherwise you run the risk of looking cowardly.
I was one of the artists that participated in this project, and I thought I should offer my thoughts as to why I still consider this a very worthwhile opportunity to have been involved with. You can see more photos of my room, and many of the other rooms, on my flickr...

It seems like people are getting very wrapped up in the "promise of exposure does not replace pay" argument. But really, this project has already been reviewed in almost every local new source, and many more blogs, and the hostel is not even officially open yet. Having created one of these rooms has gotten me personally more local press attention than almost every group show I have participated in. It has also gotten me other commissions. Now, I could have spent the same two weeks working on new art pieces to sell, or low profile paid commissions, neither of which would have gotten reviewed, but in the long run it seems like a good gamble to participate in a community project that will be in the public eye for years to come. Really, can you say the payoff for being in yet another small-time First Thursday or Capitol Hill artwalk show compares? And most of the time, artists at the start of their careers show in coffee shops and restaurants, which are also businesses that benefit from having free artwork enrich their space. Of course, it would have been nice if some of the press for the Hostel had come out before opening night, but c'est la vie.

The other reason I have not seen mentioned yet for why this was worth doing, and of particular interest to me, was that the project had a complete lack of censorship. The way I see it, the payoff was "we don't pay you, but here's a room, and you get to do whatever you want. Really, whatever you want, no strings attached." I think I actually prefer a setup like this to "Here's $200, but our investors want you to paint..." In fact, if there had been content requirements and rules, I would not have even thought about doing this. My room was much more feminine and in many ways tame than some of them, but it still contained a nude figure that I most likely could not display in even a coffee shop. But you do do not get an entire room as a canvas every day - to me it was a chance to create my own environment without having to worry at all about whether it would be sell-able or appropriate.

I think its very easy for already established artists to point out the unfairness of this arrangement. But we all start out somewhere, and like I said, this has already opened enough doors for me to not regret being involved one bit.
@13 or any other artist that painted a room, contact me and I'll make sure you're featured on my lowly site -

Thanks Jesse!
Hmm, it ate my link for some reason last time...

But all my photos are here:…
And I wrote some more about it while the project was under way here:…

I also love that you featured Carlos & Sierra, they're room was such an amazing concept!
Yeah, they definitely had the coziest room. I'd be worried about getting nightmares in the other ones.
I wasn't worried about getting paid, they made it clear that we were volunteering. However, I did by numerous supplies for my room ( #218) but.... within a day of starting the room, some one saw it, went to my website, bought a painting and commissioned me to do another. So I made my money spent plus way more! I feel that having the opportunity to do this was wonderful! I was happy to see friends, paint all day and meet lots of new people out of the deal. Here's the way I see it, you can pay to put an add in a magazine or you can have fun and paint a room for the same price. It's not like we paint rooms for free everyday...and it's not very often that we get to have freedom in what we paint like we did on this project. I am glad to be part of it.

- soule -

Musicians are always being offered gigs for "exposure", and having played many of them over the years I'll go along with the old joke "You can die of exposure". If you've got nothing better to do (including working on your art at home that evening), then go for it, otherwise the odds are massively against you that anyone will notice you on an "exposure" gig above the level of "Oh, I guess there were things hanging on the wall/someone playing in the corner".
It seems like at least giving every artist $100 or so for supplies would have been a good idea (not that that would cover the entire cost, but it at least would have been a good faith measure). I mean, I understand the exposure argument and see that's a good thing for the artists. But, the hostel would likely have had to pay for some type of paint for those rooms anyways, so... seems like they got the better end of the deal.
Blue collar? Gimme a break. You're not getting paid. That's not real work. And yes, you are being exploited; other people are taking the value of your labor. All of the value, in this case.
Red, Soule -
It seems that you agree that artists should not get paid for jobs like this. The problem I have with this situation is that it fucks up the artists that are trying to live off of their craft. Why should the next guy not come along and expect to have their business painted for free?
Hey it's exposure!!!!! Believe me that when you come to the point in your career that you no longer will do anything for "Exposure" you will think back on this and wonder what you were thinking.
Joe, you know me. Don't you recognize me from the picture (of me, like, with my face and stuff) in my icon? Here's a hint: say my screen name a few times fast and see if you get it. Cowardly doesn't have anything to do with it, I thought my identity was obvious.
PLUS!.....with the gallery space devoted to the work of the artists who painted the rooms, my darling boyfriend sold a painting that night, thereby offsetting his losses for painting the room. Plus, you know, he sold another painting. I didn't think you painted, Joe.
Man, there is no exploitation going on here. You have a choice to volunteer or work for this hostel or not. A youth hostel is not the same as a regular business, and doesn't need to be treated so. You don't like it? Well there are plenty of other places to find work. Go to an advertising agency. Go decorate a starbucks. Yeah, that's shitty work that compromises your integrity, but that's what the vast majority of us 'regular' workers do every day. Join the club.

If I feel like volunteering my time to Habitats for Humanity, I do NOT feel like I'm undermining the local construction scene. It's my choice to do a good thing, and if anyone criticizes me for that...well they're a bunch of greedy jealous assholes.
I love the art and it was the best thing I read in the Seattle Times that someone left in the cafe that day.

Sorry to hear about the payment aspect, but still, I loved the idea and love the execution of translating art into living spaces especially hostels.
Thanks for the Flickr shout out.

I wasn't involved in this project, but I know a bunch of folks who were, and I didn't hear a single complaint from any of them about the way they were treated. Street art is a funny business - 99% of the time you're doing subversive work in unapproved places, and many of the people who encounter it would sooner arrest you than pay you for what you've done. It's cool that the Hostel people appreciate the art and the artists enough to give them free reign in their hallways. It was a cool and unusual opportunity to participate in something memorable.

Joe, If you're still reading this, how much did the same artists get paid for the Tubs project? Or the Motel in Fremont? Of course it's an added bonus when money is going around, but this kind of work is very rarely about getting paid. Plenty of street artists are just happy to have a chance to do their thing without the threat of police sirens over their shoulder.
It seems like we've been trained to think that money is the end of the line, the point of each endeavor. It's not. Hands down. Pleasure, passion, community, participation, collaboration, excitement, uh, FUN?! These are good reasons to do things. Also sometimes, opportunity, some of which the best of comes without pay. It's not about should or shouldn't. Besides, haven't these free art projects opened up the art world to people who otherwise feel shut out? Getting art out of the gallery is nothing but good in a world that is regretfully overshadowed by the out of reach and ridiculous "art market" chimera.

It seems to me the artists who participated did it gladly and willingly - is that true? Do any of them regret it? Redd points out that her exposure was some of the best she's had, and the trade off may come in the form of money later but that's not necessarily the point of the project now.

Is it too much to ask that Seattle engages in a participatory community that has fun and involves us - artists and non-artists alike- in projects not necessarily for-profit, but towards the end of bringing art into the world for, I don't know, the sake of fun, enjoyment, creativity, and art?
I may be starving and homeless, but at least i'm artistically free to express that starvation and homelessness! WTF kind of argument is that in favor of slave labor? I though art was supposed to be liberatory?
I'm definitely curious about whether the artists got paid for Motel Motel, or the teardown on Bellevue, or Tubs, etc... Is it because those were all destroyed but the hostel is going to be a business? Hostels rely on volunteers all the time. Especially in a high rent area like that, its nice to finally have another option.

@12 Aren't you an NKO taggers turned street artists? Never seen pics of either of your faces or your real names so... And NKO + all got paid well for the Marion apts so maybe that is a factor in the opinion.
@30: I think it depends on whether the "hostel" is truly a charitable organization, or one of the many that charges each guest a little less than a hotel, but stuffs them eight to each filthy room.
so a month ago a friend comes into my day job all excited about some big art project. a bunch of artist get together and do what ever the fuck they want at this new hostel to open in a month. i was a little concerned at first, i've been drawing from the age of two, done comics and and currently am an animator, but new to painting. i had just sobered up from an joint art opening the night before, where i sold none of the ten paintings i put up, while watching my pal sell all of his. i wasn't sure if i wanted to jump into a month long project after a big let down. he knows how to talk to me and so i was at the hostel the next day. i soon realized the place was filled with friends, friends of friends and soon to be friends. the owner, a sweet and excitable little fella gave me the run down and his vision. here's the thing guys, everyone involved knew we weren't getting paid, that there was only a slight chance of gettin paid back for our supplies. so why do it. because fukers i'm complelled to create. because it was like a summer camp for crazy like minded people. 3 weeks of hanging out and drinking with pals who understood and truly liked each others shit, and then have that time marked on those walls forever, for us to remember. everyday was all about walking around all a twitter to see what those walls would turn into. what will that friend or guy i've respected from afar do with their room? sure i didn't get paid. who the fuk cares. i've never been paid for my shit. it's not why i do it. i know america hates its artist, and thats never effected my work. i do what i do cause i want to sit back and look at that shit till i can't take anymore. my walls are covered with my stuff, not out of ego, but because i want to see those images and so i made them. "opportunity" "exposure" sure sure, those are business buzz words but here's how i processed them: when else would i have the opportunity to paint something that large scale without rules of content or having to look over my shoulder every five minutes for the police on a mission to break up the fun? when else would i have the opportunity for the countless number of people, from all walks of life who pass thru that building, see what i do? if i wasn't at the hostel working i would have been at home working on a smaller scale without all the love. we all knew what we were getting into and jumped head first. sure you can say the owners used us and to a degree they did, just as we used them. used them for a month long party. used them for a place to experiment. and used their future clientele. you see we all have art hanging there. we left contact info, and signed no contract to fork over any percentage of money earned thru the contacts we made and will make. those paintings i couldn't sell for a month right down the street, well it took no more than an hour to start selling at the opening night at the hostel. it was all worth it for so many reasons, and unfortunate that people uninvolved would try to harsh what we did. sorry guys you missed out. it's that simple... you missed out.

ps. dear mr. scratchmaster, what issues of juxtapoze are you in, i'd love to check out your stuff?

What a sweet gig! I think the negativity towards the artists for doing this for free is stemming out of jealousy. I admit I'm a bit green myself :). But the artists who particapted did an amazing job on the rooms and they deserve the exposure they've received. Gaining exposure as an artist is probably somewhere around 90% of the work(the art comes easy), so this has turned out to be a good opportunity for them, not to mention the freedom they enjoyed in the actual painting of the rooms. As previously mentioned, if the artists hadn't been working on this project they would have been painting anyway.
I'm one of the artists and most of my thoughts were already laid out eloquently by Redd and Farquar. This was an opportunity to affect the people that will be staying in those rooms with our own personal voices, a chance to share our creativity and to perhaps change the way people think. I like the thought that someday a traveler that has never been to our country will be staying in an art piece of my own creation. I'm honored that so many of my talented fellow artists understood that. Additionally the friendships this brought about and the experience was priceless. The people that think we were exploited should know that the owner Lee was there until 3am most nights on his hands and knees with a hand sander while we painted, and that Brian the manager in residence was working 20hr days. If that isn't a labor of love I don't know what is. I have no doubt they understood the generosity of our contribution, I have no doubt of theirs.

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