Art Isn’t Free



Obviously, this topic is sort of close to me since I’m attempting to make a living doing what I love, and what I love is books, writing them and reading them. Something we like to say, especially within the art communities, is DO WHAT YOU LOVE. We read Steve Job’s Stanford commencement address and we watch videos like this, which ask the question, “What would you do if money were no object?” and of course the assumption is to think that means, what you do if it didn’t matter how much money you earned. But in the comments section, someone posed another aspect: I need money to get trained to do what I love, so now what?

I really, really believe in doing what you love, and that it takes a lot of courage, and a lot of people give up on themselves unnecessarily. However, the other side is expressed in this article. It argues that, “Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable-work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce. For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story.”

“Do what you love” disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege. And that’s what I’m getting at. Doing what you love to do is special, not to be taken for granted. Anyone can choose to do it, yes, but not everyone gets the chance. That’s reality. And yet, passionate artists are taken advantage of. That same article says, “Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love.”

Especially in fashion, media, and the arts, people are persuaded to do their art for free. There aren’t many attorneys or doctors hanging around the web offering free services–and if they were, we’d be suspicious. But there are hundreds of writers, musicians, and artists putting up their wares online for no price to the viewing masses. Most of them are not complaining about it–and in fact, that’s how they find fans and build a following. Almost always, however, attached to the free thing is a way for you to support that artist by buying something they’ve produced.

Well, what if you’re broke too? If you read a book you loved, SHARE IT. Talk about it! Celebrate the wonderful art that enters your life! The literature community survives because people still love books and still want to share that joy with others.

For some other awesome ways to show your support, check out this article: Be More Than a Reader: How to Support Your Favorite Authors. I will now take one tiny step higher on the soapbox I’m already on, to stand on a mini-soapbox to say: the less we support our artists, the more art is undervalued, AND THE WORLD NEEDS ART. It is (and I’m being serious) as important to our society’s well-being as law and medicine. *stands off soapbox*

So maybe this month you can skimp on one nicety in your life (like no chocolate for a few weeks?) and find a way to make a small contribution to an artist you support instead. (:

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