Pay artists to make art. Period.

Starving artist by Artbandito via Flickr

This is a public service announcement.

Pay artists.

No arguing. No “buts”. No excuses. Just do it.

There’s this egregiously wrong assumption in society that creatives pull their work out of the ether. That they’re merely a channel for a higher power or are blessed/cursed with an ineffable something normal humans are not. That they’re somehow exempt from the obstacles and needs of “real” jobs.

When we think of “an artist”, we tend to picture a woman in quasi-bohemian clothes with a dreamy look on her paint-spattered face, living in a yurt in Central Park.

That shit needs to stop.

Creatives aren’t magical beings who take in oxygen and crap out masterpieces. It takes dedication, sacrifice, money, cheerleading, therapy, practice, and refinement for an artist to produce their art. They’re humans who work as hard if not harder than non-creatives to scrape together a living doing what their combination of talent and discipline has encouraged them to do.

And so when we shortchange artists for the mental, emotional, and spiritual capital they pour into their work, we tell them we don’t value it. That they should give up because the world doesn’t understand. That they’d be better off flipping burgers than writing that novel or painting that portrait or choreographing that dance.

The starving artist trope is dangerous and perpetuated solely by the belief that to create is a mysterious, mystical madness requiring no material foundation.

When we don’t pay artists what they’re worth and expect them to work for free, we not only deny them validation and support, we deny ourselves the enrichment, beauty, and sense of wholeness that can only come from having art in our lives.

Break free from that programming.

Pay artists to make art.

For you, for them, for me, for us all.

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