What is ‘Evil Tender’?

I was out drinking the other night and someone asked me about this site.

‘Evil Tender. It sounds so negative.’ 

True. ‘Evil’ is a hard word and I took for granted that whoever saw my site would read my mind.

Imagine you have a skill — a talent. Let’s say drawing. You want to draw as a career. Ideally, you’d be paid to draw whatever you’d like. More of a fine artist. You want gallery exhibits, but you also need to make money. Have a livable wage, so you work for an ad agency. A design firm.

Instead of drawing what you want when you want, you are now responsible for creating imaging that will appear on the cups in convenience stores to coincide with the release of a sequel to a summer blockbuster about pesky rabbits and underground robots. 7-Eleven needs those paper cups for Slurpees, and someone decided you were the one on staff to handle the job.

Is this bad? No, not all. It’s great. That job needs to be done and it might as well be you. But, in the back of your head you think, ‘fuck this bullshit. I’m better than this.’

In music, if a band has a following and the size of that that fanbase warrants it, a major record label will release their next album and put them on a tour sponsored by Hawaiian Tropic brand sunscreen, and that original fanbase will call them ‘sell-outs.’

What they once stood for, to the fans, is now gone. They sold out their beliefs. In the visual arts that term doesn’t really exist — so I think of it as ‘evil tender,’ the money you make, that legal tender, has been tainted a bit — it has become ‘evil tender.’

Is this bad? Again, no.

Let’s look at Harold Ramis’ classic film ‘Caddyshack.’ In the film, you have high school boy Danny. He’s a caddy at a golf course with a family pushing him to go to college. With no other choice for a chance at college, he sells out his fellow caddies to caddy for Judge Smails, a mean-spirited old man who has a reputation for being a horrible golfer and worse, a horrible tipper.

Our hero Danny accepts the job to caddy for Judge Smails, hoping it can somehow get him in the judge’s good graces and maybe, just maybe, get him a scholarship to college.

On the golf course, Danny gets bold and tells Judge Smails that he wants to go to law school but can’t afford it. The Judge replies, ‘the world needs its ditch diggers.’

I’m not sure what it says about me that this little moment in a film made in 1980 has stuck with me since I first saw it. That statement, that the world needs its ditch diggers is entirely true — we can’t all be famous. Rich. Powerful. Like Tyler Durden in Fight Club, most of us are the people keeping the world running. Whether we wield a hammer, keyboard, or paintbrush — we all make our evil tender.

I commissioned UK based artist Ryan Humphrey (who I interviewed — check it out HERE) to create drawing based on this concept. I love his work, and just told him the simple anecdote from ‘Caddyshack’ and trusted him to do something awesome, and he did.

'Evil Tender' by Ryan Humphrey

‘Evil Tender’ by Ryan Humphrey

This is Ryan’s working artist. Ryan’s ditch digger. He also provided me some of the pieces of this drawing as well —

'Evil Tender' (detail) by Ryan Humphrey

‘Evil Tender’ (detail) by Ryan Humphrey


'Evil Tender' (detail) by Ryan Humphrey

‘Evil Tender’ (detail) by Ryan Humphrey

It is a total delight to commission work from artists that I love. Just a gift when then say ‘yes.’

If this site has any true statement of what it wants to accomplish, it’s to get the public to seek out art that they love, contact the artist, and buy directly from them — commission the artists that you love and respect to create something unique for you.

There is only so much time on this rock and a house only has so many walls, so go fill them with art that moves you. Art that you feel connection to.

Stores like Ikea and Bath, Bath, & Beyond have pre-framed art ready to go, but does it inspire you? Does it say anything to you? Speak your name with a warm voice?

Big thanks once again to Ryan Humphrey for agreeing to play along with our previous interview as well as stepping it up for this piece. I love it. It speaks to me. It knows my name.

(For some of the artists that I love, just scroll through the ‘interview’ tag above. And of course go out and find your own favorites. Email them. Chat. Engage. And most of all, have fun!)

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