The Value of art
Today's blog post is going to be a bit different because I have seen a mentality going around that art should be free. That all art should fundamentally be free. It is something that has sparked much discussion from my artistic friends be them musicians, graphic artists, animators, or authors. It is a view that many blame on millennial generation that grew up with the Internet where everything was free, and they didn't have to pay for art. Be it illegally or artists legally posting stuff for free.
Let's walk through a scenario, you are a hard-working and passionate member of a clean-up and maintenance service. But, for you hard work and determination, all the hours you put into your craft, your job, all the energy and effort that you put in for your hard work and service your company decides that you did a great job, but instead of paying you they pat you on the back and tell all of their friends how great of an employee you are. How does that make you feel?
That type of response that you are feeling, is the same that happens when an artist doesn't get payed for the amount of time, energy, and resources it took to accomplish their art. Be it, music, animation, comics, books, ect and the list goes on. Art is something in my opinion that takes someone working with their own imagination and creativity and tools of the trade to create something, a craft that is perfected by hard work and determination.
It is no different than the time and energy a carpenter, a mechanic, a baker, or a clean-up/maintenance person does at their job. All these jobs are important so why as a society do we demonize artists for wanting some money for creating something that we enjoy?
How did we become a society that values art in this way? That art is not worth paying for? I could go on with theories and hypothesis on how and why certain people view art as less worthy of pay. Many say that it is the millennial generation and the Internet that has caused this mentality, but the mentality has existed before. The old tag-line of Baby-Boomers berating Generation X and younger for being lazy and not getting a job has always existed in society.
If we just look into a labor costs, such as most of our economic wage system is centered on, the cost of labor is one of the largest factors in paying a livable wage. An 8 hour work shift at a service industry is doing about as much work as an 8 hour work shift drawing a character for a comic.
An 8 hour work shift on drawing a character for example doesn't go into the gritty reality of an artist. Multiple times an artist will have to discard a draft and start over. They have to pay usually out of pocket for drawing programs, utensils, paper, and other tools of the trade. Authors, animators, scupltors and others are also apart of this too. They have to pay for tools to get a job done, and it is out of pocket. There are free writing programs, and you could technically use a paint or another free,open-source program for doing art, but there is still the time, and energy that goes into the creative process.
Voice actors and stage actors as well as illustrators and authors have to do multiple drafts, multiple takes, multiple versions before the finished product. This takes time and energy and a copious amount of stress and copying mechanisms to get a product done and finished. Time that could be used for other artistic methods and projects.
Art requires sacrifice of time, it requires dedication and effort. For some artists it takes less time, but it still is a skill-set that needs to be learned. Just like any other job. And, like any other job artists need to be payed for that sacrifice. They may not be working a 9-5 job doing sweat shop level labor, but it is still an extensive process that artists sacrifice their sweat, their blood and their tears. Artists deserve respect from society and until that happens it will force artists to work 9-5 jobs plus work on their art which will push back their art months at a time, not allow them to practice and do multiple takes. It doesn't allow an artist to sharpen their skills.
For up and coming artists this is the most problematic for them, they have no way to get out of this escapist ideology of trapped between survival and doing the things they love. If they can't afford to eat, pay bills, rent how can an artist thrive in this environment and the answer is many don't. So they give up their dreams and go do something that they can survive on. This creates a bottleneck and until artists can survive in society, art in reality can't be free. You should respect art by promoting your local artists be them musicians, or comic book artists, novelists, or just a painter.
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A.L. Hornbeck, historian, author, metalhead, and all around geek.