Artists Have Value

It should come as no surprise that I care about the treatment and well-being of artists. Today I want to address a pervasive issue. Based on behavior alone, it would seem that there are a number non-artists (for lack of a better word) that devalue the artistic professions. These include any kind of creative professional, like a musician, filmmaker, designer, performer, and more. And this negative behavior leads to poor treatment, unreasonable expectations, and underpaying.

Artists working at companies might not feel the effects of this devaluing or are at least shielded from it a little bit. However, I would guess that most of my peers are extremely aware of this bizarre stigma that has adhered itself to artists everywhere.

The art profession is a lifelong pursuit that takes decades to get good at. It requires significant study, practice and time just like anything worth paying good money for. The best artists dedicate their lives to the craft, working in excess of 80 hour weeks, researching and relentlessly practicing in their downtime. Good art is very difficult to create. It's painstaking and demands patience. It’s a profession in every sense.

So, why are artists devalued? My best guess is that people are simply uneducated about how it works. Creative endeavors appear easier, and it doesn't help when some unmotivated, so-called artists perpetuate the stereotypes. But the truth is that is that there is a large group of top-notch, hard working artists out there who don't get the pay and proper treatment that they deserve. These words are coming from me, and I am an artist, so I understand if you feel I am biased. However, I can only speak from my experience, and I am eminently familiar with the art industry that I am part of.

This issue will take time to correct. I believe it starts with artists standing by their own self-worth as artists, and not caving to poor working conditions (if they can help it). If a client is asking an artist to do three days of work in one day, they need to say no. It will require artists to gently and kindly educate those around them about why art demands good pay, proper treatment and reasonable expectations.

I recently came across a humorous essay that pokes fun at the idea of doing speculative work. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's basically doing some work for free for a client before they decide whether to hire and pay you. The point is that it's ridiculous that some people feel this is an okay thing to do.