On Art vs. Work

This may not be a popular post, but try to follow my logic.

I have a lot of friends in the creative industries: musicians, artists, dancers, writers and the like.

Like many artists, they are apt to complain of not being paid enough (or at all) for their art. They bemoan the fact that they are asked to perform for free or for ‘exposure’. They believe that they should be handsomely paid for their passions and talents.

That’s the problem.

Your passion is not necessarily a product. Your artistic expression is not, by default, a commodity you can put a price on.

You get paid for work. You do not ‘deserve’ to get paid for your art in and of itself.

You get paid for doing a service for which there is a demand – and a willing buyer.

You do not get paid for doing what you love to do just because you desire to get paid for it.

That’s the point.

If you want to get paid for your art, you are not really an artist anymore; you are a freelancer, a contractor, a service provider. You need to adapt, compromise and change your true art, the art you want to create, into a product you can sell.

But then it’s not really pure ‘art’ anymore is it?

When you are being paid to do something creative, you are not really living your art, you are fulfilling a commission.

True art is an expression of an inner passion and vision, which you will complete even if no one ever pays you for it.

If you want to make art.

Make art.

If you want to get paid, do a job.

Your work, your job may very well be artistic.

Likewise, your art may very well have taken years of hard work (and investment) to perfect.

But do not confuse the two with each other.

Artists create art for no other purpose than the job of creating.

Businesses, contractors, and freelancers earn a profit.

True art is not a for-profit exercise.

There is a difference between creating art, and selling services; a difference between doing what you love and adapting your talent into something with a tangible value.

At the end of the day, what you love to do may very well never be worth very much to the market, no matter how hard you’ve worked at it.

It might always be priceless (or valueless) in the eyes of your target market.

If the going rate for your art (or product) is free, you have to decide for yourself, if you’re willing to accept the going rate or not. You do not have to give your art away for free, you have every right to keep it for yourself – or to keep looking for a willing buyer.

At the same time, you cannot judge consumers for not wanting to buy your product – just like a shoe seller cannot be upset with you for choosing to window shop rather than buy a pair…

Art is art. Work is work.

You make art because you want to.

You do work because you get paid.

Decide for yourself what you create and what you sell.



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