Thursday, January 21, 2016

Art has value -- Raising awareness about the cost of creating

comic below by Dan Dougherty, Beardo Comics!beardo/cxff
Artists exhibit at conventions for lots of reasons. It's a chance to see peers and colleagues. Some are there as guests of the event or on panels. All levels of artists enjoy seeing long-time fans and making new ones. Attendees enjoy discovering artists they didn't know... and seeing new art at the booth or table of artists they follow.

Too often.. I'm hearing stories about fans who approach an artist and profess their love and admiration for the work... only to follow-up with a strong disconnect between what they enjoy and what they are willing to do to help keep the art coming.

These fans are ardent followers of the artist's work on social media sites that thrive on image sharing.. like Facebook or Instagram. Of course artists enjoy the appreciation .. but where is the support?

Convention attendees may not all be collectors of original art, but when they balk at paying even modest prices for prints.... that's a clear sign of the disconnect. They claim to value art, but they bristle at the idea of paying money to the artists.

Why should they pay for art.. when they can get all they want on-line for free? Art. Is. Not. Free. ... including on-line art. (image below by Michele Leivan)

Art always comes at a cost... and the artists have been carrying those costs for the rest of us.

Every image that pops up on a Facebook feed or a "Google Image" search.. had an origin. Chances are it was the work of an artist... but it's rare for that creator to get credit.. much less compensation.

The "rules" of the internet favor companies... not individuals. Most artists are independent contractors and entrepreneurs ... but also woefully undertrained in those roles.  Previous post on need for indie artists to calculate their day rate:

It's up to fans to start correcting the assumption that on-line art is free.... and artists to stop selling themselves short...

There are platforms like Patreon to help get this message across.

Artists need to promote themselves in ways that allow fans to contribute to their enjoyment of the artist's work.

Education is the key. Artists should use conventions, websites and social media to reinforce the impact of small donations. These have the potential to really add up as support for online art. Artists can't make expenses exhibiting at a con only by selling "smalls" with entry-level price points like $1 buttons and $5 prints... BUT ...  if hundreds and thousands of fans are happy to "like" an artists page... what if they were also willing to put some investment in their interest? Modest donation/pledges of under $10 or $20 would be a mighty fine way to demonstrate the value fans hold for the art.. and their community effort to keep it available.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping an eye out for clever ways artists are posting art AND including a quick, easy way to donate or pledge for this work. Because it is work. A lot of work. And no one can afford to work for free.

Artist "Ryoko" of I Love Coffee includes a donation button with her blog posts: Just click for a quick and easy link to PayPal! Brilliant!

Intellectual Property Legal Firm "Counsel for Creators" has a web page "work for fame" with link for a download of a contract artists can use for "work for exposure" arrangements that defines the exposure and the compensation expectations. It's tongue-in-cheek, but also an effective tool.

More on online art theft and copyright issues for indie artists:

Artists need to make themselves a priority. They can't create if they are sick and broke.

Few artists can make their living entirely through their creative efforts. That means they are doing a job... and making art. Why make it harder for them???

If you love on-line art and artists.... support them. We're all in this together...

1 comment:

Róisín Curé said...

This is a well-written and thoughtful post and of course it is perfectly true. I am one such artist but I have conflicting thoughts.

1. No one needs what I do. Except me. Therefore I will continue to do it even if I starve (which I won't, because teaching pays very well, as do commissions.)

2. I like Patreon, but I don't want the reward of seeing artists' work every day - it's too intense.

3. I am going to set up a "donate" button like the clever and attractive one in your example.

4. I buy art - with cold hard cash - when I fall in love with a piece. Original art. Which is expensive but worth more than whatever else I can buy with the same amount.

5. Lastly, and most importantly, the (non-financial) support that I've had from followers on the internet has contributed hugely to my development as an artist and had indirectly made me a much better artist.

So it's all good.