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Old 11-21-2003, 04:38 PM   #1
Red Princess
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Getting paid for Art

I have read several comments recently from creatives who would like their art to seen and enjoyed but appear uncomfortable with the idea of being paid for it.
I know quite a few graphic designers who are paid, and paid very well for their work.
While I understand the concept of art for art's sake, shouldn't all artists be rewarded for their talents?
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Old 11-22-2003, 10:44 PM   #2
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As a performing artist, my opinion is yes, of course, I should be paid. I've put many years into training and practice and sacrificed quite a bit personally to be able to do what I do. Whether I enjoy doing it is arbitrary - I'm performing a service, providing something that those who partake can't do for themselves, and so, unless I decide otherwise and want to bestow my performance as a gift, I should be paid. However - if I ask to be paid for my performance, the person who pays has a right to expect certain things... which may make performing less enjoyable for me... and which make me not seek to be paid for my performance so that I can have the freedom to do as I wish...
But the bottom line is - I need to pay my rent and eat. If I spend my time training and practicing singing, and someone wants me to perform for them, I'm going to ask for money to be able to continue to do that.

Maybe the reason some artists opt not to be paid for their work is that the enjoyment of art is so subjective, its *purpose* is sometimes so abstract, it's so freakin' hard to put a value on it... There are manuals with current standards for different kinds of creative work, but they're always changing... you have to take the time to make yourself aware what others are being paid for similar work, and that takes time and consideration... pain in the butt.

If I'm a plumber, and I fix your leaky faucet, we can put a discrete value on that... we could also decide on an hourly rate... Even as a singer, I can say, "Okay - you say for your wedding you want the standard mass songs, but you also want two prelude songs and a song at the closing -" and attach a value to that... And (supposedly) the better quality performers should be paid more, although the measure of a "quality performance" is also subjective... And how do you attach a value to a painting? Is it about how many people want the painting? Do you decide on a price based on what it cost you for materials and the time it took, maybe including the rent for your studio, with a little extra thrown in for how "good" or "interesting" you think it is? Maybe for how much you love it and don't want to give it up?

Another thing I ran into with a necklace I made recently... I priced it about the same as others and sold it - then found out that no matter where I looked, I couldn't find any more beads like the ones I'd used to make the necklace - so, although the original cost of the beads was small, their worth was greater due to their rarity... so should I have charged more for the necklace?

Last edited by lapietra : 11-22-2003 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 11-22-2003, 11:12 PM   #3
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Read both RP's question and my response over - and realized I needed to add -
Artists aren't paid for their *talents* - that's something we're born with and to pay someone for that is like paying to look at a flower... What we're actually being paid for is the time we've taken to develop those talents... and further, in my (the singer's) case, what someone's paying for is the years I spent in training, the hours I spend practicing, the time it takes me to learn the music I'm going to perform, what it costs me to coach with someone on the music and/or possibly to pay for an accompanist to work with, the fact that for a few days before I perform I make sure I don't stay up late and drink, and that the day of the performance, after dealing with the stress of L. A. traffic and whatever personalities present themselves to me as I try to make my way to the performance place (and the ones I have to deal with during and after as well), I have to get all dressed up and stand (possibly nervously) in front of an audience, who's just had a lovely relaxing dinner and bottle of wine (or possibly just rolled out of bed, two to four hours after I had to get up and start warming up my voice) and is sitting comfortably in their chair, and not scratch, burp or fart or otherwise behave the way I might if I was *not* in front of an audience as I attempt to render little black notes on a white page into something resembling music. Yes, it's *great* fun, and I love the attention, and I love how singing feels, but you're not paying for all that. You're paying for all that other stuff. Plus my rent and groceries.

Last edited by lapietra : 11-22-2003 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 11-24-2003, 09:45 AM   #4
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(I am a bit of an outsider because i am not a professional artist so take this as a sort of a "first thought").

I agree with Lala. I also think that many people do jobs that they like in a way or the other, and they are paid for that. It is not just something about artists and i think it is perfectly legitimate.

The freedom issue is a different one. Personally i think the artist's freedom is a public good. It is something worth to society as a whole because it leads to innovation. For this reason it should be subsidized by the government or other public organizations.

Deciding on how to distribute this kind of subsidizes is difficult because the quality of something innovative is hard to judge. I think independent art should be subsidized on equity criteria more than on quality, because judging quality is a way to limit the artist's freedom.

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Old 11-24-2003, 07:06 PM   #5
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Whether or not you get paid for your art, either performance or end product is merely the difference of your art being a pastime or a job.
If it's a pastime money is of no consequence, but if it's your livelyhood, your job, your career, then ask what the market value of your art is.
Michale Caine once was asked why, when he had academy award nominations did he take on parts like scientist in the Killer Bees. His reply was that he always paid the rent.
Yes it would be idealistic to rent a loft, fill it with paint , canvas and models, but if you're no good, or if the public doesnt like what you produce....tough. You dont have a right to be able to live a life of pure art, unless it pays in some way.
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Old 11-24-2003, 09:01 PM   #6
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On the face of it, I like the idea of artists being paid for their work. To me, it says that the whole of society around that artist is willing to fork over valuable resources for something universal, yet intangible (the inspiration and innovation of the human spirit) expressed into a tangible form.

However, this is not a eglitarian society- there are those who have, and those who have not. Regardless of how much money there is in your pocket, the thrill of seeing a masterly-crafted piece of work crosses all boundaries (this is why I love libraries, National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities). I can't pay to have a Van Gogh, but my love for some of his work maybe just as rich as an owner of one.

There are those artists too that are caught in the sticky web of commercialism- James Taylor said that he can't approach his guitar anymore without thinking "Is this song going to sell?". Success can be a double-edged sword.

And then, there is doing the art for the sake of doing it. I remember an episode of Northern Exposure (yeah, that's right. I'll quote a truth wherever I see it.) where Chris is teaching Holling about painting. Once Holling was through painting something, into the fire it goes. The true art, in any medium, is in the process- not in the end result. The end result, whatever that may be, is gone to the wind, might as well be destroyed as much influence it has on your process right now as an artist. Who cares about yesterday? What can you make TODAY?

What the artist experiences through the process and what we, as observers, gain from the end result can be extremely different. But money is the unversal language of value- and perhaps the only way we can express that value from one individual to another.
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Old 11-25-2003, 01:19 PM   #7
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free money? maybe... yea

if people want to give you money for anything, let them
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Old 11-25-2003, 01:55 PM   #8
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Old 11-27-2003, 07:07 PM   #9
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Re: free money? maybe... yea

Quote:
Originally posted by chris
if people want to give you money for anything, let them
But that's the thing... it's not "free money"... There's some erroneous idea that what artists do isn't work... It takes a *lot* of time and sometimes a great deal of effort and sacrifice to create art, and even though art's value is abstract, doesn't feed or clothe anyone, it *does* have a value...
I just thought of another kind of work that is paid for by "the government", although government money really does come from everyone, from our taxes... our policemen and firemen. It's a different thing in many ways, sure, but how much value do we attach to their protection? And maybe they're not saving lives *all* the time, but we should pay them to stay *prepared* to protect us... There's definitely a similarity there, because while artists aren't necessarily producing art all the time, they're spending their lives preparing to do so...
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Old 11-28-2003, 06:45 AM   #10
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Once again i totally agree with you lala! Another similarity is with theoretical research in natural, human, and social sciences. Some of the innovation that's generated from basic research leads to actual changes in our lifestyle, some other does not have direct ripercussions on our life. However the former cannot exist without the latter and that's why this has a very high value for society (even if it may not have such a high value for single individuals).
I see art as a sort of basic research.
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Old 11-28-2003, 02:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by jaymirror

I see art as a sort of basic research.
I love that It reminds me of something an acting teacher said recently... I can't remember the exact quote but it was something like "Actors teach us about the human heart" - I think that's true for all artists - and what more worthwhile pursuit is there? (This is not to say there are not *equally* worthwhile pursuits... ) Artist are emotional scientists; they use different mediums, different disciplines, but they all endeavor to strike out in new directions in inner space... and it is worthwhile to fund the expedition.
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Old 12-01-2003, 03:10 AM   #12
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Re: Getting paid for Art

Quote:
Originally posted by Red Princess
While I understand the concept of art for art's sake, shouldn't all artists be rewarded for their talents?
no. no one has any right to be rewadred for anything. let alone something as subjective as art.

i don't see anything wrong with art for a living, or being paid for art. but whether or not you get paid for it, comes down to luck, no matter how talented you are. you are fortunate if it is desirable. because art is so personal, and anyone can be an artist, if only for themselves.
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Old 12-01-2003, 07:08 PM   #13
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i was specifically thinking of graphic artists and how some people who claim to be graphic artists will work for nothing to see their work in print. i think it demeans the profession when people do that.
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Old 12-01-2003, 07:15 PM   #14
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I don't agree that it necessarily demeans the profession, but I think it definitely screws around the people in the profession who are trying to make a living! My soon-to-be-ex is a jeweller, and the market here is not super, so he is constantly running into the problem where people low-ball their prices. It really sucks. I take Moel's point that no one *deserves* to be rewarded for making art, but surely there must be some sort of ... ? How to put it, that if you put in a full day's work every day you should at least be able to make ends meet and have a decent life? Ah the communist in me is coming out
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Old 12-01-2003, 07:42 PM   #15
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'zackly.
Van Gogh didnt fvck about worrying about his health plan.
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