Opinion: Pay for Your Art to be Free

April 25, 2021

There are those who believe artists’ work is primarily driven by a desire for fame, who feel work in art isn’t worthy of supporting with love and encouragement, who feel that artists should not be paid but should rather pay for the privilege to be creative and have a shot at fame. From my experience many artists really just want to make art and give it to others. To generate pools of community and prosperity, to make friends with people. No one seems to want to give back to artists today unless they aspire to something big. Why is this?

Getting a return financially or being popular should not be the true return on investment. Striving for excellence and to be heard doesn't mean reaching the most people and making the most money. It means that artists set real attainable goals within their community, that their work benefits others and that people support them for it. But where have we made those goals available for them. They should get to use their talents to help those who are struggling not just those already well off. Artists with true tenacity should be rewarded, however, being a star is not a realistic goal for 99% of them.

The arts rewards system is tricky today. Art isn't really a product or service and it is also not the anti-job, it is just different. It is a job that by nature is giving and educational for everyone involved. Its work that needs charity to bestow charity. Let's not take this for granted. It's the human inspiration we all find in the arts; visual art, literary arts, performing arts, culinary arts, and so on, that make us who we are as a people. Without this, what do any of us have to work towards, creative or otherwise? For me a good meal, some music, a book, and a beautiful picture, can bring a sense of contentment to my life. There's value in the qualities I find in that. It's the same value that compels me to make art for others.

It is a bad decision to support the idea that to get art for free makes us all wealthier. Just having lots of art doesn't mean we're richer. It typically means we're too lazy to pick what we truly like and be discerning about it. It is by inspiring us all to greatness in creative ways and to really feel for each others pains, hopes, and dreams, that is the real work of art. It is cultural gluttony to support a blasé mentality toward the arts, it expresses a deep lack of empathy and a disregard for the value of human togetherness we all experience in our life.

If you believe in an artists work, or someone you know is a fledgling artist, rejoice and support them for improving your life with the gift of creative inspiration. Really pay attention to the unique experience they open your eyes to and involve you in. Even a novice artist can inspire greatness in people. Even if all you have to offer is sincere encouragement, it's a step toward a healthier popular mindset and loving understanding among your peers.