Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Artists' Alcove: 11 Reasons Why Artists Should Not Work for Free

You know the saying: "why should you buy the cow if the milk is free?" Well, this saying applies to this subject, as well as to your art career/business/brand. So here are some thoughts on why artists shouldn't work for free....

Number 1: Why should you work for free. The person asking you to work for free isn't working for free. I mean, can you walk into an accountant's office and say "hey, accountant dude, what say you do my taxes for free? Or your dentist's office and inquire about a free root canal? You'll be escorted out of his office...or kicked out...with a large boot.

Number 2If you don't value your work, you can't expect anyone else to, so value your talent, your work, time, energy, conception, execution, skill, experience, style, etc. Value it and put a price on it. 

Number 3Art is a profession, like being an architect, nurse, lawyer, teacher, etc. As such, you have the right to earn a wage like any other profession earns a wage. There is a a centuries old belief that artists should not earn any money for their hard earned work and the countless hours of conception, execution, skill, talent, love, frustration, devotion, etc., that they put into their work/craft. Who invented that absurd concept that we shouldn't be paid (uh, people who wanted out artwork but didn't want to pay us) and who bought into it? I guess plenty did and you can buy into it too if you so desire. The equation is simple: If people want what you create, they want what you create. Thus, they should pay for what you create. They don't walk into the grocery store and tell the cashier, "hey, I want these groceries, can I get them for free?"

Number 4Art is work, (and yes, it's also an artists' passion, love, air, food, drink, obsession, and whatever), and again I say, it is still work...lots and lots of work (let's not even talk about the many hats we wear, in addition to trying to create actual art. There's no time to go into all of that aspect of the...work...lol).  As such, you should earn a wage for the WORK you do as an artist.

Number 5: I've heard soooo many people say that art isn't necessary and that people don't need art - that it's a luxury. Really? Here's a good question for those who utter such nonsense: Do you want to live without television, films, filmmakers, actors, writers, poets, dancers, comedians? That's all art and artists. Imagine having no books to read, no literature, no amazing books for your children containing all that breathtaking art and illustrations. Imagine no poetry, or poets. Imagine no music or musicians, no dancers, nor comedians, That's an absolutely ridiculous notion because art is everywhere! It's on billboard, on packaging (someone is doing the art, graphic design, typography, etc., for the packaging of all the goods we buy. When you walk into a cafe, the cafe's brand of coffee (and I'm thinking of a particular and popular cafe/coffee brand) has artwork on the packaging (and their packaging is divine, by the way), a business' logo utilizing some art form - whether graphic design, typography, or fine art. Again, art is everywhere - from set designs, to grafitti, to children's literature and everything in between and it is artists who conceive of a vision and then execute the vision into a tangible item. So art is absolutely needed!! The world would be a miserable, boring, lackluster place without art and artists of all genres.

You've probably seen this poster around the internet because it's been around for quite a while. I have no idea who made it (if you do, can you please let me know so I can give credit), but kudos to him or her because it is spot on.

Number 6: Doing free work generates more desire and expectation of free work. Mouths are for talking and when you do free work for one, those mouths often tell others and the others are not going to want to pay for what you gave free to another. 

Number 7: It's human nature to try and get something for free. Folks who ask you to work for free will often say that they don't have money to pay you. That may or may not be true, but it's completely your decision if you want to take them up on their offer...of nothing.

Number 8:  Folks who ask you to work for free will claim that doing so will get your name out there. On rare occasions (very rare occasions), they may be right, but proceed with caution and do your research on the people/business/organization asking for you to work for free. On the other hand, gabillions of artists will tell you the exact opposite and that not only did it not get their name out there, but it didn't do a thing for them, or their artwork...sad but true.

Number 9Don't be flattered that someone wants you to work for free - even when they coat their request with layers of honey and cinnamon coated compliments. It's actually a huge insult on so many levels.

Number 10I read several books that say that artists shouldn't work for free because it creates a culture of artists working for free. Reading this in books is what really gave me my "aha moment" because prior to reading art books, I was working for free. I really find this to be true. I think that when artists work for free, it keeps alive that societal belief, that artists should work for free and that people are entitled to getting your services for free. Now, all of that said, if there is some organization that you are very passionate about and you want to volunteer your services or work, then by all means, do what you want to do. What I am saying here, is that we all have bills and responsibilities and if you want to be a working artist who earns an income from your work, then you must charge for your work and businesses/people/organizations must pay for your work. Simple.

Number 11Nothing in life is free. In all the forums where they may want you to work for free (bars if you're a musician, boutiques if you're a artisan/handmaker/crafter, galleries if you're an artist, theaters if you're an actor, bookstores if you're a writer, etc.), money is being exchanged and you should be part of the monetary exchange. Make sure you are - unless, of course, you want to volunteer your work, services, time, energy, talent, skill, devotion, passion, sensibilities...

NOTE: This post was written from the heart to hopefully give you some insight that I didn't have when I started. There are many people out there who will want to take and take and take from artists and give absolutely nothing, and my goal is to inform you of that. This post contains only tips or suggestions, as only you can decide how you want to function as an artist and what you want out of it. In other words, is this a hobby for you? Do you want to volunteer or do you want to be a working artist? Only you can answer the questions. Whatever you choose, I wish you the very best. :)

1 comment:

  1. Reason 12: Your baby needs a new pair of of orthopedic shoes.