Paying artists for their time and work is the right thing to do and as of late, I feel it’s an extremely important message to put out. It pains me that I even have to talk about this. Drawing from a recent experience, I’d like to share my thoughts.
I was recently asked to speak or teach an art class. It would be my choice! My heart leapt at the thought of someone being so inspired by my work that they felt compelled to ask me! It meant so much to me!
My glee was shortlived, though. No talk of how much I would be getting paid was conveyed to me, so I started to question what was being asked of me.
When scheduling a time to speak, they missed the agreed upon time to discuss details. I believe that speaking on the phone cuts through any assumptions or misunderstandings and that’s why I had preferred to communicate that way. Don’t get me wrong, messaging has it merits, but in this particular case, I felt a phone conversation would’ve been best.
Through messaging, which was their preferred method to communicate, I was finally able to question them about pay. They immediately messaged me back and said they no longer required my services, they found someone to volunteer.
The thing is this… They had found value in what I do. They found value in me. After all, they approached me. So, that is what I’m choosing to take away from this. Though, they never clearly stated what they wanted from me. They moved on to another artist who was willing to work for free. And that’s great for them, if they can get someone who can afford to do that. I understand having a budget and wanting a bargain.
With that said, I’m trying to create something for my family and myself. I put in countless hours with my work. I pay for supplies from my own pocket. I pay for gas in my car to get from Point A to Point B, just like everyone else. I not only want, but need to get paid for the work I do, just like any person with a job/career would. I have bills to pay and my family needs to eat. Taking care of my family is the most important thing to me.
Interests should be made clear about what is sought from the artist. Pay should be front and foremost the information that is given to an artist whom you are interested in employing at the time of contact.
I’m partly to blame as well, though. I got caught up in the excitement of it and didn’t immediately state my fee. So, as an artist, that’s an important take away from this situation. There was a breakdown in communication and it was a good learning experience. It didn’t work out the way I’d hoped, but in the future I will be better prepared for such requests and I do hope to continue to recieve requests.
I donate my time and work to causes that are near and dear to my heart, but I cannot give away my time and work often or to everyone who asks.
Sadly, artists are often expected to work for free, give their work away, be paid in “exposure”, or paid very little for the work they do and statistically female artists are exposed to this the most.
The majority of artists have another job to help sustain them and their families. This makes their artwork seem like a hobby, when in fact they put in as much work as a full time job with overtime. Getting an art business off the ground is extremely difficult. Getting an art career off the ground as a female is even harder. There are plenty of statistics and articles online detailing this fact.
Art improves quality of life. Not just for the ones creating it, but for those who appreciate it. When you see an art piece, just know it most likely took many hours to create, a whole lifetime of experience has gone into it, it costs the artist to make it, it costs them to display their work in galleries, websites, and art festivals, it takes quite a bit of time to blog, add work to ecommerce sites, and to social media, they are charged fees to sale online, it costs them to ship their work, and the artist has spent a lot of time and energy in honing their craft.
Does the artist get joy from creating? Yes, absolutely! But if you truly love what they’ve done and do, pay for it. Appreciate them and all they’ve done to create their artwork. Appreciate all they’ve done to get it in front of you to enjoy. You are helping them support their families and helping them to continue creating their art. You are making a positive difference in their lives and their loved ones lives. You are showing them you see their value. They want to make the world a better place. Help them continue to do that by paying them for their work.
You wouldn’t go to a concert venue and demand free tickets. You wouldn’t go to a hairstylist and expect to be given free services. Please, consider this the next time you see an artist and their artwork. It takes courage to put ourselves and our work out into the world. Please, be respectful of that. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! It is greatly appreciated!
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