Every artist has heard the same statement in various forms, whether they are an artist of music, traditional, digital, or even artists of trade. It is a dreaded sentiment. It is the simple reason the term “starving artist” even exists.
Artists are being devalued by people who are both close and not close to them by asking these artists for free content. There seems to be an underlying assumption that when someone is an artist they only do what they love because they love it. It’s partly true; we absolutely love what we’re talented in. Painters love to paint, those who sketch love to sketch, and those who sing love to sing. The other underlying problem is because of this love for what they do, it can be easily assumed that they’ll be willing to do it for free… but things must be quickly put into perspective.
Most of your friends, family, and colleagues who do art do it because they love it. Yes, that is very true. They also need to have a way to support themselves. For those who work in an office, how would you feel if you were asked to constantly do what you do for free? This is a daily struggle for an artist. I cannot possibly iterate how many times people send me messages, make phone calls, or even come to me personally and ask for free paintings and graphic designs. It’s not only demeaning to an artist, but it can also become very discouraging.
Many young artists find themselves questioning whether or not they should pursue art. Afterall, as mentioned before, the term “starving artist” is a true statement. If they can’t see themselves making a living off of what they do, then why would they pursue it? It’s not as simple as loving what they do. Of course there’s a possibility of working to do what you love, but there’s also the possibility of working and doing what you love. Commissioning an artist could mean the world to them.
An artist should be regarded with talent as anyone else is. If you see the talent, then the best way to show how much you love it is by supporting it. Instead of going to a large corporation for a painting, talk to one of your artist friends, family, or neighbors. It is likely they’ll be more than willing to work with you, and because of that closeness the final product will mean all the more to you and them.
Support your artists. Respect your artists.