If only exposure was a currency. The artist would be the highest paid profession in the world. Admit it, you can’t live without us, but you aren’t willing to afford us either. Re-read that last sentence; “aren’t Willing to afford us”.
The unfortunate thing is that young artists are all in a rat race; the difference being that we’re running in a disillusioned direction where the finish line can only be crossed if you constantly tell yourself you don’t need the money as much as you need the publicity.
I received an email brief for what I thought was a commission. After thanking the prospective client for her email, I quoted my usual price. This person had the common courtesy to get back to me (many don’t find the time to reply) and she played the publicity card on me; something along the lines of “I don’t have a budget at all but I was hoping to give some young Pakistani artists exposure”.
She probably felt very noble. I mean this is what the average artist wants today – their art on publications, walls and wherever really. The average artist also wants to make a living of a very rare skill that is extremely undermined.
I don’t solely blame this noble email lady. I blame you, the artist, as well. Here’s a scenario: Two very beautiful models are contacted for a job. One of the models really needs this job because she needs to pay her bills or a student loan. The other model has a rich dad and well money isn’t really her priority, so she says she’d do it for free. I think we all know who’s getting picked. Privilege wins, doesn’t it?
If one artist starts doing it, you’re basically screwing up everyone’s chance of getting picked. Because hey, this one’s desperate enough to just get his name up on that wall so let’s pick him.
Creativity is not retained by everyone when they grow up. People go into Law and Business and Medicine and get a “real job”. That real job pays a minimum wage, below which it is illegal to work in many countries. You need to realise that you, a typical creative, do not even have a minimum wage.
I want to see a change in the way artists sell their work. You need to take a stand. If you can’t do it for everyone else, do it for yourself. In the end, you’re going to have a long list of places you’ve been collected, but only just enough rent for next week. Do it because you respect your profession.
If you’re reading this and you’re not an artist, just don’t contribute to the system. To us, our work is priceless. Yet we only put a price on it to make a living, and it’s hurtful when you think its worth nothing.