Maria Brophy


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Why Artists Should (Not) Be Paid for Their Artwork

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Garcon a la Pipe by Picasso - Sold for $137.5 Million

Oh after you mop the floor and clean the barn, can you finish the Sistine chapel in your spare time?”  Contributed by my Facebook Friend Ross Fletcher

I woke up feeling quite feisty this morning.  Nothing makes me spit nails more than the idea that some people under-value the work of artists.

Last night I was at a Blog World Expo party in Las Vegas.  I met a pretty boy from a social media company who asked about my blog.  I told him that I help artists make a living doing what they love with art.

Pretty boy replied, “Artists shouldn’t be paid for their art.  Getting paid prevents them from creating really good stuff.”

Drew and Maria June 17, 2000

I thought back to the artsy photographers I hired for my wedding day.  They were more expensive than your average wedding photographer, but they gave me something wonderful:  stunning photos of the most important day of my life!

I can’t even entertain the thought that being paid makes your work less good.  That’s the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard.

I asked him, “If they don’t get paid, who feeds their families and pays for their supplies?”

“They should work another job,” he said, rather smugly.

I want to make three points about Art, Contribution and Money with this article:

  1. Your art is a CONTRIBUTION to society. It brings joy, it solves problems, and it makes this world a better place.
  2. Being paid ALLOWS you to make that contribution to society.
  3. Your contribution expands in relation to the amount of time you put into it. More hours = expanded contribution to this world with your God-given talent.

We live in a money-based society. That won’t change anytime soon – so those of you who say “money isn’t important” get over it!

I almost punched pretty boy in the face when he said to me, “Artists are better off working a job they hate and then painting in their spare time.”

This is the problem I have with that:

a.)     No one should work a job they hate.  You were put on this earth with talents and you are meant to do that which you are good at and what you love!

b.)    The world is missing out on your contribution. The less an artist creates, the less they grow.  It requires hours upon hours to hone your craft.

If you are at a “real job” for 40-50 hours a week, doing what you hate, and then you have to come home and be a parent, and mow the lawn, and feed your kids, when will you create art?

I have friends who regret living most of their lives working in an office job and only creating a few paintings a year because that’s all there was time for.  Think of how much their talent would have improved, how much they could have shared, had they created all day instead!

Soooooo”, I asked the pretty boy, my blood getting hot with frustration, “do you get paid for YOUR work?”

Of course, the answer was yes.  “Does getting paid make your work less good?”  I asked.  “Well, no” he said.  “That’s different.”

Yeah, I thought so.

This topic drives me insane.  Why should one small segment of the population have their work devalued so much that they are forced to struggle?  Should interior designers also not be paid, and should musicians play for free and should the guy who artistically installs my decorative bathroom tile do it for nothing?

And an even better question is this:  why should my plumber be paid more than an artist?!

FlyingFish Surfboard by Drew Brophy for Surfrider Foundation 2005Drew Brophy has been a working artist since he was a teenager.  He’s always “Lived by the Paintbrush.”

When he was in his twenties, he painted surfboards for a living.  A lot of them.  So many that he’s become known in the surf industry as the artist who changed the way that surfboards were painted.

He says that painting 10-15 surfboards a day helped him to get really good and to develop a very strong style of his own.  His style is now well recognized and many people try to emulate it and attribute their artwork to being inspired by Drew.

If Drew had been working in another field and only painting in his spare time, he would have been wasting his talent.

Drew paints what he wants, and he loves doing it.  When someone commissions a painting, it’s because they love his style.  It’s a beautiful way to put art into the world and be able to live a good life.

Charging for his artwork allows him to make people happy with his art. Without payment, he wouldn’t have the time, because he’d have to pay the bills by working on something else.  And there’s only so much time in the day.

Though he hardly paints surfboards anymore, occasionally he will.  These paintings BRING GREAT JOY TO PEOPLE.  When they see their very own Drew Brophy surfboard painting for the first time, their eyes light up!


One happy surfer boy!

(The picture to the left is from a thank you card that ten year old Spencer wrote, thanking Drew for his painted surfboard – he is proud to be seen with it!)

Charging for your artwork enables you to make a contribution to the world with your art. It allows you to develop your style and to get better and better at what you do.

Most of my friends are creative people.  The rare few that don’t care about being paid are either supported by a family member or have another career that they really enjoy.

We live in a money based society.  That isn’t going to change right now.  It costs money to eat, put your kid in sports, to have a home.  We most likely won’t see that change in our lifetime.

As long as we are stuck in a money based system, I find it an outright insult to all hardworking artists to say they shouldn’t be paid for what they do.

It’s just a crazy notion that this one, single profession should work for free!  (While everyone else gets paid…)

What do you think?

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375 Comments Why Artists Should (Not) Be Paid for Their Artwork

  1. Ronaldo

    Wow. I’m (not so) surprised at what a huge response this post generated. You have truly hit on one of the stranger conceptions human beings have formed about art : that the creator does not deserve / should not be paid for their work because it is less valuable / should be done for recreation. I’m definitely on your side on the matter, a few quick rebuttals for all the people who have posted in opposition :

    #1 – You are not considering the time / welfare of the artist. You are only qualified to hold this opinion if you have attempted to create art professionally. If not, you have no clue what you are talking about. Say you are an accountant, what if I asked you to do my taxes for free? “Could you just take care of them for me? Oh what you want to get paid for your hours of hard work?! Well that’s silly.”

    #2 – You believe that art does not contribute to society as much as other types of work. My reaction is WTF?! You really think art is useless and the only people who really contribute are those who are gainfully employed in a non-artistic capacity? Ok then, try living a day without TV, literature, culinary art, architecture, design, radio, advertisements, and your craft micro-brew / wine / bourbon / whatever. Sit in a grey box / cave eat crap and stare at the walls. Having fun yet? Visual art is no different from other forms in that the creator had to support his/herself. If you really think that it’s not worth anything, then stop asking for free samples of it.

    1. Debbie

      Awesome response thanks. It’s extra hard when you are living with the pretty boy and have to contend with this crap attitude.

  2. Michelle Coleman

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Everything said is so true. Why would one assume that such beautiful gifts deserve no compensation? I’m an oil painter and quite frankly my body literally hurts afterwards. It is in a sense manual labor, after all. I mean the art doesn’t just telepathically jump onto the canvas. It is PHYSICALLY applied to the canvas. I sometimes paint for six hours straight! By all means we deserve to compensated.

    1. Dana

      Photography is the same way. I don’t *work* as a photographer, but depending on what I photograph I may have to contort my body into an odd position… and then *hold* it there. I’ve had to do that at rose festivals and fireworks shows… and then I was sore the next day.

  3. Rich

    Now, how many of you download stuff for free? Give others CD/DVDs to burn…in this digital revolution, it seems many many many want everything free of charge. It’s the way of the web, once something is created people can’t see what went into it and with all the time that teens have on their hands along with the ability to out-code the status quo, Free, is becoming a national desire. We want it for free but we want to get paid for our efforts. We need a new economy.

    Likewise to the article, I had a Cadillac dealer offer me $75 bucks for a $300 painting. When I told him it took me 3-5 days to make it, he had a revelation, he had no idea what went into the making of a painting. He didn’t buy it even though he’ll charge X$ just for a hub cap for one of his cars, a hub cap just like all the other hub caps that come off the line.

  4. Kate

    Money is a necessity and you should be paid for your work the same as a plumber or a lawyer or a police officer. The nice thing is, paying for art is usually optional and discretionary. (And don’t get me started on other artists who accuse successful artists of “selling out.” Everyone has a different path.)

    1. Ron Croci

      Kate, please stop comparing an artist work to a plumbers. An artist that has mastered figures, archetectuer, landscape and perspective can only be compared to a surgeon. However most artists dont wanrt to do the work involved in learning all of this, there fore their art lacks the punch that they think they have and that is why they cant sell anything. Come on all you so called artists, learn the bascics and stop bullshiting.

      1. Dana

        That would be why Thomas Kinkade got rich off his apprentice sweatshop, right? Try again. People don’t want to pay a true price for art because they all have the Wal-Mart mentality about everything now. They are the same way about food (we’ll pay $5 for a latte but not for a properly raised dozen eggs) and clothing (we’ll buy an Escalade but paying more than $10 for a tshirt is highway robbery).

  5. David Lamplugh

    Thank you, Maria. I am an artist that splits his time with a full time job, and everything you say is correct. I manage to be highly productive as an artist but here are the facts: I get up at 5 in the morning to paint before work. I then paint when I go home. My day job is underpowered, yet art related and appreciated. I have not invested in making much of a middle class existence, have no kids, have a 15 year old car and a tiny apartment. Otherwords, where I am following the dayjob route, sacrifices have been made. People really piss me off when they say an artist should starve for their art. Its silly, romantic dumb and illogical. Ive developed highly individual skills in painting, ones which less than 3 percent of the population possess. So unlike other people in this position, like sports stars or actors, I should devalue this and starve in the streets. Its dumb, and only entitled douchebags think like this.

  6. Derrick Blacquiere

    I have been painting sense 2000. I do it to release stress I have about 35 painting finished never have I sold one because I don’t thing they are good enough to sell. all I know is that I would like to keep painting and maybe someday I will have the balls to show the world my art.

  7. JStine

    I came across this article today while searching for other artists who had trouble getting started living out their dreams because they constantly hate their own work and/or worry about losing everything to do so. It isn’t that I find my work all that bad, it’s just that my confidence level is terrible and I am always comparing. But, I have finally had a fire lit within to at least try to start putting my art out there more than just a show here and there. This article made a much needed impact on my life today. I recently quit a long time job to ‘figure out’ my real life purpose. Part of that purpose is to share my creativity with others. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding me why we do what we do, and that there are in fact people out there who still believe that we should ALL be able to do what we love, and live too. YES! We all have talents and something to offer to the world, thank you for sharing yours.

  8. heather grisham

    Quoting Casper here, ” can I keep you?” I really needed to see this today. I have been painting and drawing since I was small. I studied in college but felt like a car stuck in the mud. It has been recently that things started to pick up and alllll by accident or surprise?? It started with the SeeMeTakeover in Times Square, then I was asked to have a show locally, which will be in January 2015. Shortly thereafter, my brother thought he was walking into a music store but it had since changed hands and is now an art gallery.. he whipped out his phone and showed them pictures and I get a call telling me to get there asap and now I am in. Finally, I was recently asked to illustrate a children’s book. Now I continue to ask myself, Why are you still working this job that you hate and working 3 jobs at one time, with 3 children and barely an ounce of time to paint more than one painting a month??? It’s because I am afraid that if I leave the steady income, I will fall flat on my face and go flat broke. Fortunately my husband is my biggest fan is begging me to quit my job-s and paint full time. This blog just hit the nail on the head:)

    1. ron

      Heather, what a loser you are…. Doing all those jobs you hate so you will have cash. How dumb you must be to put up with yourself. You put art in the background just so you could have some stupid job. You are a pompus irritating phony. I would rather steal than live like that. The reason you have those jobs instead of “doing what you really want to” is because you don’t really have anything to express. You are as empty as those so called jobs. Come on, prove us wrong, make something of your self. And by the way you don’t need your husbands approval.

      1. Brian

        Ron, maybe you were born with a silver spoon in mouth but most artists arent, if y don’t work you don’t eat, please tell me why the vast majority of of classic and renaissance artists died poor? Is I because they didn’t have anything to express or they were phoney? Gee I wonder. By the way how can a person be phoney for not wanting their family to suffer for them to per sue their dreams, I get the feeling you spent many yours living at your parents while they suffered for you, because yup couldn’t be a ‘phoney’

    2. Catherine Meyers

      Heather know it’s difficult feeling like you are between a rock and a hard place I empathize with you. We all have our hopes and are fears. It’s a balancing act were we need to have realistic hope and not allow fears to overcome us and not allow us to live our dreams and passions. It’s always a risk, but with faith, a belief in ourselves, and with a supportive network around us, I say go for it. Never mind the critics, including yourself!
      I encourage you to believe in your capacities to take a chance at happiness in actualizing your dreams.
      I went riding horses at 40, for two years, took up Mediterranean dance at 50 and went back to University to finish a Bachelor of Fine Art I started in the 70s. At 56 years of age and graduated 2012. You can do it! I received an award given to mature students who demonstrate perseverance, and determination in obtaining their degree. That meant more to me than the marks ever could!

      You deserve to be happy doing what you want to do!

      1. heather grisham

        Hi Catherine,
        I think Ron is in dire need of a group hug. Thank you for your kind thoughts! I live I a place where art is absolutely unappreciated but I am about to soar…….and Ron if you by chance read this, I accept your challenge….and send hugs and kisses

  9. Pistache Artists

    This is a great article. We were having a debate on another site about this and it got a bit out of control. We would love to get paid for every bit of art we’ve made. However, sometimes we’ve done art for free when we can see that there is a huge probability that it will lead to bigger projects and more work. E.g. we paint for Quiksilver at the Quik Pro France, run workshops at their offices/shops and paint boards for the factory. As a result, sometimes we’ll paint a freebie for a pro surfer or someone who has a massive onile following. Guess the question is if payment has to be in monetary form or if exchange is still valid? it is to us….. Keep up the good work, Pistache Artists.

    1. Maria

      Pistache Artists,

      Thanks for landing on my blog!

      Even when painting a high-profile athlete’s surfboard, you should get payment. You could offer them 50% off, and that would be a generous offer. The reason I say get paid, even if just 50%, is because people value that which they pay for.

      My husband used to paint the surfboards of pros, many years ago, and he would find that they didn’t respect the painting; they would end up giving it away or breaking the board and tossing it. They didn’t value it because it was free.

      Now, we don’t do things for free anymore. And Drew’s work gets respected, and it’s a special thing for someone, even an athlete, to have him paint their surfboard.

  10. Promise Marks

    Thank you so much for your article like you I would have wanted to punch “prettyboy” in the face too. As an Independent Recording Artist it not only sucks to not get paid to add insult to injurry clubs in LA want us to pay to play so after we spend hours of preparation after working our day jobs and pay hundreds of dollars to cover all the expenses such as rehearsal studio, gas money, hair, make up, wardrobe, promotional advertising, photographer, video guy and sometimes equipment rental fees and then be told to sell tickets we end up spending thousands to make 20.00 bucks in the tip jar but yet we’re suppose to do this for free gtf out of here. We are worthy of wages and should be respected and valued for what we work hard to do for applause and recognition of contributing something worthy to society. Thank you for your blog!
    Blessings Promise Marks

    1. RonCroci

      Wow your so whiny. Let me ask, Did the Rolling Stones take on “day jobs.” I think not. Your still not good enough. What your lacking is the ability ti stimulate the imaginations of your listeners. Weather its Mozart, Liberace or Kirk Cobain, they all had it. You just don’t. Not yet any way.


    Thank you. I needed to hear this today…even if it took me years to get to the post from my google search. Boatloads of thanks. As an artist I have been told that I undercharge for my work. I agree but feel as if I have so much to learn…how can I charge more…something I need to get over.

  12. Grace

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am still seething over a pinhead that suggested I paint for less than minimum wage. When I refused, she attempted to hire a college student (she couldn’t find a student who was willing to work for the wages she was willing to pay) and then thought that a fourteen year old could take over what I was doing. (I have a degree in fine arts, years of experience and have won multiple awards.) What she didn’t understand was that I was (attempting) to do her a favor (she was starting a business) and that I was doing so out of friendship — not because I believed that she was paying me any kind of decent wage. Some business professor gave her the line, “why should I impoverish myself for you?” to hand me when she attempted to drop the agreed upon wage. No more doing favors for troglodytes!

    1. Grace

      (Whoops. Forgot to add that painting for less than the minimum wage also included taking time off from a day job that I do to support my painting, and thereby losing income by doing work for her.)

  13. A'Niecia DeFour

    I’m a college student and I just changed my major from biology to art. I get so much crap from my family saying that I’m not going to make enough money and I don’t think they understand that I really would rather work a job that I live than be miserable trying to work as a biologist for my entire life. It was bad enough for one semester and I personally don’t wish ti repeat it. I’ve always for as long as I can remember have been an artist and very good at it. Now I really am just working de veloping voice and new skills.

  14. Alex Paul

    OK. Not meaning to be a party pooper or something with your thoughts about why art should have a price. Just to give another perspective about it. Personally I do paintings (couple a year) just to enjoy the thrill of letting out what’s inside my brain and then hanging it around the house or at work and occasionally explaining people what’s the painting about. There are times when someone offers to buy, which is turned down with my always simple explanation: “Art is meant to be shared and everyone is an artist”. Why I do this? I believe that the most accomplished and exquisite master in showing their work is Nature and does it for free. Looking at the wonder of a colorful butterfly, or the mighty ocean waves, or the ever present tree with its color changing, or the pompous flowering plant in spring, or the melodic bird singing, or the beauty of a coral reef ecosystem, and so on just to name a few. All are for free and shared with us for out enjoyment. If I put a price to my art I would be precisely feeding the ‘for profit’ mentality that is taking our world down the self-destruction path. In a cosmic calendar, this for-profit mentality has put us couple minutes away from doomsday. Peace.

    1. Karin

      I understand your point about art being meant to be shared & the for-profit issues. It’s a philosophical conflict I feel at times.

      I also agree that everyone has the ability of creative expression. However, that is not the same as being an artist which is taking that innate creativity and honing it to a level of expertise, like the difference between being able to play notes and playing to professional standards. All creative expression has personal value. That does not make all equal in quality of execution. What makes an artist is the time, effort and dedication given to developing one’s ability. It’s not something they do once in a while for fun, it IS what they do.

      As for money, we live in a world that still requires us to have it and if someone puts all their time and effort into making a life and a living from art, you can’t do it for free. If you only do a couple of pieces a year for fun, that’s a different matter.

    2. Dana

      Nature doesn’t do anything for free. She expects reciprocal energy in kind. If you enjoy her beauty so much, what are you doing to protect her? One way or another she’s going to get it back out of you.

  15. daniel

    Uh, since we live in a money based society. Tell me, why it is that the good, in the form of my art, and the service, in the form of my time to create that art, shouldn’t be paid for? That said was it zuckerberg who insists we should also be booted from FB because we lack integrity if we use a pseudonym as the Famous Mark Twain did when he wrote the Tom Sawyer novels and stories, as his real name was Samuel Clemens. Hmmm I wonder if Zucker-face even knows that, or who that is. Or why an artist, such as him would not want their real world location, their names, their faces online. Especially today where the artist that does so, as past recent events show us, risks being the victim of terrorism if they do. NO thanks. I will continue to use someplace else, and continue to accept money if offered for my work. (Which it should be noted, I normally do for free/tell the clients up front will be free. I only take a donation if it will really offend them if I don’t. Which is rare these days, but still does happen.

  16. Blind Pathos

    Creativity will be the currency of tomorrow. All else can be acquired by the increasing stored knowledge base that is being distributed faster to more people. Creative thought is what is human. “Being made in the image of God” would imply we are creators.

  17. Bpathos

    Creativity grows with our “Information Revolution”. Humans are the mind of all life. We collect and store data. We comb the data and create. The “Information Revolution” is “Creative Evolution”. Free time and longer life will mean more creation. Each decision made is creative. We are evolving and responsible.

  18. Ray Doetjes

    I am against subsidizing artists because that’s dishonest against all others that work hard and don’t get a subsidy.

    However I think we need to be paid for our work. But artists themselves are naieve too. They have the business brain of an amoeba in many cases.
    I charge 800 euros for a show and 65 euros an our for a commission and I stick with that. But mists artists are so hopeless for cash that they buckle at the first: ‘ hmm. That’s too much’.
    This ruins our market appreciation.

    I’m in a luxury position that I also work in IT and I’m not pressed for money.
    In IT its normal to see what your specially is and when it’s a niche your rate goes up.

    In art that’s very difficult because everyone can play some music or paint and it’s very hard to measure the ability.
    also a painter charges by the hour and that’s normal and they have rates we know to be acceptable.

    Perhaps us artists née dot come up with price indication for each art per hour and stick to it.

    Commissions in the golden ages were high and artists were respected. We can turn the tide but we need to be unified and not crumple because we are desperate.

  19. Janet Bocciardi

    I was just thinking about this same thing today. Since most of us would find life intolerable without art – paintings, sculpture, music, fiber, jewelry..whatever… The value it brings is invaluable. And yet, so many devalue the artist’s time which is way more than the materials used.

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  21. aaron

    hi i am an artist currently studying for bva hons and i would like to offer a point of veiw. Art is the idea not the product although it is not the property of the artist, just as cars were an eventual inevitabilty when the first tool was used every idea is an inevitabilty. An artist does not “come up” with an idea, as aldous huxley said “the curtain was lifted that i might see”. The idea is not the artists therefore ownership of the recreation or the physical “copy” of the idea is also not theirs. Artists are agents of creation taking from the cululative human knowledge any artist that sells an “original” work is turning it into a product a commodity and while this is possible to do at this point it occurs it ceases to be art. The only art an artist should sell is commision work as it is devised and paid for before the product exists and as such they are paying for an idea to be made reality in this moment and your skills as an agent of creation. What you are been paid for is not your “art” any work an artist makes without this commission basis should never be sold if it is to retain its value as art just a thought

    1. Karin

      Aaron, that’s a nice philosophical point of view. However, without the artist’s time (during which the artist has to be able to eat and live), effort, aquired skills (which also cost money to attain) and paying for materials, the etherical creative idea would remain just that – an idea. We need money to make art and to live. Not everybody works entirely, or at all, on commission. Whether you see it as paying for an object or paying the artist to do the work of being the conduit of creative ideas doesn’t diminish the value of the art that results. It makes it possible.

      For instance, Van Gogh wouldn’t have been able to paint for long without the financial support of his brother. Now people pay millions for the paintings he made for which he received nothing and lived in poverty to do so. Do you think that is right or just? No one else could have made those paintings the way he did. So while the essential ideas may not have ‘belonged’ to him, his expression of them did and the courage to do it. That is worth a great deal because, again, without it there would have been no paintings.

  22. Sheldon Grimshaw

    Great article. I was just answering a question about how long a pointillism painting (24″x 30″) took me.Although I never timed it, I guesstimated 80 hrs. and I’m asking $825.
    I can frame,do the plumbing, the electrical, drywall the works, built my home from the foundation up…but can they dream, imagine something and paint it? All tradesmen make over $25/hr and some a lot more. We/I settle for minimum wage or less and are so happy when someone buys a piece? I think far too many artists are giving their work away or charging just for material and it’s hurting everyone.

  23. Mark Martino

    Thank you for addressing one of my lifelong pet peeves. Peeves is too weak a word, maybe issue or cause. Oddly enough, a few minutes ago, while writing a plan to sell views of my movie, I wrote the following about free artwork:

    Artwork creators sometimes mistakenly believe that because they are giving a piece of their work away without charge allows them more creative freedom than selling their work.

    They’re wrong. Whatever work becomes available to someone other than yourself affects your reputation and future work. You may think that you can stay in your own little world and create whatever you want to because hey, they don’t have to pay for my work. You can only stay in your own little world until you make any of your work available to someone else.

    As soon as you do that, it is likely that the work will become public. If you put your work up for free on a website, it will definitely become public. And when it does, you’ll be hemmed in by all of the same restrictions that come with selling your work.

    It’s the going public part that creates the boundaries, not the money. Give away whatever you want, but be sure it is as good as anything you’d sell.

  24. Jim

    Granted that there are some artists being paid too much for crap, but there are far too many doing it for the love of it and getting paid squat, and the idea that we are using a gift from God doing something we love is payment enough is obscenely stupid! Obviously pretty boy is way overpaid and probably does a crappy job, can you post some sort of contact or blog name so some of us might give him some sort of insight into reality?

  25. Serena

    Maria, I don’t know how to say this but your post truly touched my heart, to the point where I’ve been crying for a few minutes now.

    It has been such a difficult feat to find support for what I do for myself and my fiance.

    For the past few months, I’ve been learning how to build a business from scratch to accommodate my fiance’s amazing illustration ability and my creative video editing skills. I support his primarily because if he succeeds then I succeed. It has been SO HARD to hear the voices of jealous and frustrated individuals, who ended up not chasing their dreams and hate their job, push their “you need to have a shitty job” spiel as it were something that was a requirement of everyone to go through and “deal with even if you’re talented and driven”.

    I work hard everyday long, long hours (up to 12-16 hours a day), even if some people don’t consider it “work”.

    Thank you for being an inspiration to me, Maria.

  26. Sarah

    This is so great. I have strong feelings about this topic as well and you put into words many of the things that I have not been able to.

  27. Anna Keel

    This is total garbage. So artors and actresses shouldnt be paid… Along with athletes. An Artist wouldnt create anything for nothing plain and simple. Havent you heard the term starving artist? Its not like they make that much. I think not paying docs would be a better contribute to socity than free art.

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  29. Rue Strife

    When someone says you should make Art for the sake of Art, I can agree to that. However saying that to pay an a Artist for their artwork is wrong is a very ignorant statement. I hope that Artist’s don’t become targets of the next line of blonde jokes. Because IMO a lot of modern art is a joke. Like come on a basketball in a fish tank? Do you even paint your own dots bro?
    Art that is made for the joy of making art comes out best. However it doesn’t make the artwork any more or less bad if money is involved. For example if you make a painting because you love painting and keep it around the house. If someone spotted it and asked to buy it, would that in turn make it less of a painting? I don’t think money is what drives most artist, so don’t worry about bad artwork. Most of the time they are overjoyed to work doing something they love that it can actually improve their art. I mean would you rather have art that is full of awkward creatively deprived Art. Or would you prefer artwork that is full of energy and creativity because the artist is being fed? I know, I’m an artist and when I look at people i paint with I can see their dispair in the painting. I told a girl her painting was too sad, the water look like an unborn baby ( she had an abortin recently) she instantly knew what to cover up withou me telling her. Point is if the artist isn’t paid for something he used creative brain power to produce the artwork will lack instead. For painting can’t be spelt without pain, you wouldn’t tell someone in the police force they should do their job for free because they love putting their life on the line for you.
    Work a day job and still make art, why? This is something that if you had no choice you should do. But if you can make a living doing only art it would only be natural to pursue your passion. Having a day job would put considerably more amounts of stress on the artist making the artwork lack even more. I’m sure this pretty boy really knew what he was talking about (sarcasm). That’s like saying to a millionaire hey you won the lottery (ie. making it as an artist) but you should get a day job because you can’t live off 15 million dollars forever, ridiculous.
    Ps: sorry about my bad grammar and run on sentences.

  30. Janice Stark

    Absoludle Agree with every single word you have written and sentiment you have expressed ! Well Done Maria for Speaking Up so Sensibly:)
    On the other hand – I am an untutored artist who began writing poetry and expressing each of them with huge oil paintings about 12 years ago when I was 58 years of age with no training at all, after some kind of an emotional epiphany at the time started me on this course. All of the paintings and the poetry won fantastic awards and gained a lot of community and media attention.
    I was often asked to sell of the pieces.
    BUT:- I always for some reason refused to sell them (even though I was AND STILL AM totally broke financially and struggle to find the money to buy top quality canvas, oil paints and brushes that I use.) Somehow I needed to hold onto each painting, which somehow linked with the next painting and eventually presented an ongoing visual story of the journey expressed in the ongoing poetry.
    AND:- This also lead to community invitations from universities and groups for me to exhibit and speak about the Poetry and the Art displayed and I’ve always been so humbled by the effect this has had on others and to myself.
    So:- I can say I would have certainly been better off financially to sell them along the way, (But honestly was never knowledgeable or confident enough, to know how much to ‘Cost’ them at dollar wise.
    AND:- never knew how much to ask for as payment at speaking engagements about my journey, so always did that as a Community Contribution as free of charge as well.
    BUT:- the journey has been amazing (Ahough at 71 Years of age I still remain financially poor but rich in spirit as I continue to regularly express my Art and poetry freely to the community on invitation.
    AND:- Strangely enough – hanging onto the canvases and feeling so precious about them, didn’t really pay off, as most were destroyed in a storm that flooded the garage I used as a studio. I gave the remaining ones away to people who loved my art works and who had encouraged me so much along the way.
    I’m so thankful I had taken photographs of each art piece, which I now display on large screens and I have had prints made of a couple of the pieces. The prints are nothing like the effect of the real art works though.
    But:- There are always new days to paint new expressions of Life, aren’t there 🙂
    Regardless of my own story ive shared with you here, I believe artists should most definitely be given respect and to be paid adequately for their art works, that can never ever be reproduced as original by another person.
    If we pay artists as Musicians and as Photographers etc, as you mention in your wonderful blog, why should anyone dare to not value a visual artists work as worthy of financial payment?
    More power to you Maria and thank you for sharing your opinions. Respect to you 🙂

  31. claire

    I see you’re point but in a way I kinda agree with “pretty boy”, see I love painting and a lot of people say i have talent, but I don’t sell… the only people I “sold” to was to family and friends. But they won’t buy my art, instead they’ll ask me to paint what they want, what they have in there minds which is really frustrating because I’m a people pleaser I always say yes just to make them happy but I f*#ing hate it! It’s not art, I take absolutely no pleasure in it, It definitely closes up my creativity a lot and so I find it ugly and not valuable.

    I have way more pride in everything I created myself for myself and to express ideas, emotions and feelings, than in anything I’ve ever sold.

    So that’s why I agree with “pretty boy” when you do it to get paid you will most likely create decorations and not really art.

  32. DumpPrep

    I know this is an older article, but I can add this (and maybe this is what the guy you were speaking with was maybe trying to get across), and that’s that *most* of the time, artists allow themselves to be corporatized. They paint and write and draw what others want them to paint and write and draw. They *create art* for *money*. The same way that plumber you mentioned plumbs for money.

    Personally, I actually think that is a very major problem if your a certain kind of artist. If you want to be a corporate artist, then the guy’s advice wouldn’t be for you. If you want to be someone who only creates exactly what you want to create exactly when you want to create it, then his advice is actually sound. Not his actual advice, but what I believe he was trying to express.

    If he were to elaborate I’m sure he would have come around to “What I mean is, an artist shouldn’t make things for a paycheck. An artist should pay the bills by some other means so that their art does not end up becoming corporatized and placating the masses.”

    That would actually be good advice. Depending on the sort of artist you’re looking to become.

    1. Joe Blow

      I’ve heard people, mostly non-artists, make this argument. That somehow selling your art is “Selling out” or “selling your soul.” Of course, this is idiotic. Art is about expression, but there is also talent and technical skill involved. Talent will only get you so far. You need to practice every day, intently, to improve your skill. It takes years, decades even, of working at your craft to achieve mastery. If you’re just doing it on the weekends as a hobby, your letting your skills decline.

      So what this means is that you may have to produce commercial art to hone your skills and pay for a roof over your head. Back in the Renaissance era, there wasn’t much advertising, so painting for the church was the way to get cash.

      These days, you want to make money as an artist, you might have to make graphic work for car company or beer company to pay your bills. Its not as fulfilling as making the art you want to make, but its better than just doing customer service or waiting tables and trying to do art in your spare time. Why? Because, those skills are staying sharp and getting better.

      The trouble is, only a tiny percentage of creative workers get to make a living selling the art they actually want to be producing.

  33. Pingback: » Why the arts aren’t “play hobbies” but actual contributions to society Kitty Thomas: Dark Literary Erotica

  34. Dusk

    Guys, I may not an artist, I just love to draw.. My skill only drawing.. But sometimes I cant get any idea to draw, only copy things.. I didnt get much money from doing that anyway.. Doing what I love is kind of happiness, but sometime kinda…

    Should I work in retail as shopkeeper (or any easy job) for increase money for life also art supplies, and when I back to my home, Im doing drawing like crazy, is that good choice?

  35. Joe Blow

    Here are some of the the type of people who say these kinds of things:
    1) assholes trying to rip off artists by not paying them
    2) entitled silver spoons types who look down at everyone
    3) science and engineering nerdy elitists who are bitter about the artsy girl from high school who wouldn’t sleep with them
    4) people incredibly bitter about the job they hate and want everyone to as miserable as them
    5) people who are just incredibly stupid.

  36. Joseph G. Witherspoon

    I couldn’t agree more. Not getting paid for an ARTISTIC creation is insane. People use some form of Art EVERYDAY. If you drive a car,someone designed the concept,if you live in a home,again,someone designed the blueprint..bridges..highways..Parks..I can go on. When you watch television your visually looking at what someone created. Art is a product that should be HIGHLY compensated. If you have children..they absorb what they see and enhance their imagination to CREATE the next best thing. There wouldn’t be any video games, movies, TV shows, plays, cartoons etc. It’s appalling how someone could say ,”do art as a recreation and get another job”..when it took someone to create a Logo, Advertise the company Promote the that YOU (the future employee ) would recognize a company to even have a job. Who ever makes a comment like one thing.”Just Born” completely naked! They don’t have a stich of clothes..not a hair on their fact…they don’t know what they look like or have an idea of a mirror, Because God is the greatest Artist and we as people need to recognize that. Because everyday some form of inspiration is given to us. An art is in everything from Visual to Financial, Athletic,Physical, Musical..I have to say When someone makes uneducated comments like that…consider the source.

  37. A.E. Fletcher

    Pretty boy is an idiot with no understanding of or appreciation for art. His comment reflects a level of ignorance and arrogance beyond stupid. He obviously has no appreciation for art in the first place — so he’s not the kind of person to waste time on. Those with an appreciation of art understand the value of what they see and are willing to pay for it.

  38. Dennis

    Although I feel for this entire article and support the arts more than most. A plumber literally removes “shi*” from your house and provides the convenience and sanitation people struggled without since the beginning of time. A service that contributes to the overall health of the population and prevents sickness and diesease. To provide this service the plumber literally has to work in your shit, pull your hairballs out of rotting stinking sludgy pipes ect. Although living without art wouldnt be a great living, we cant live in poop and pee. And this is why plumbers should make more than most artists……..

  39. Al

    Hello and thank you for this article. I’m a composer and musician, but my income is earned mainly through teaching. Problem is, I compose Jazz/Classical/Orchestral/Renaissance music because those are the genres I have passion for, but the music that sells well in modern times is electronic pop music. I agree with your frustration that artists don’t seem to be valued in modern society, or at least the value is so subtle that society often times underpays artists.

    May I point out a musician who had the complete opposite viewpoint we share, and yet became a successful artist? Charles Ives, from the early 20th century, composed music far ahead of his time, orchestral pieces with intense dissonances that provoked listeners to love or hate. These were tough pieces that challenged listeners and peers alike, and influenced composers of future generations. However, he famously said something (not verbatim) like “I cannot feed my family with dissonance.” So he became an insurance salesman! Lol, it worked for him, but perhaps it’s not the right formula for everyone.


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