Friday, May 5, 2017

The value of art and artists.

The value of art - I don't think anyone disputes it's value.
How about the value of an artist?
How do we support artists? How do we "invest" in them? How do we let them know their effort is valued and enjoyed. How do we express our thanks? with money? with reviews? hanging their work on our walls and on our computer screens? sharing on Facebook?

Most of you know me as an artist - probably as a mixed media collage artist who has the occasional gallery show, and has written a few children's books. This is because our social media selves came into being while that was what I was doing with my life. How many of you know that I was an architect first? One of my best friends here in Colorado, I recently found out, did not know that about me. I have publicly been sharing my work for a few decades, and have identified as an artist for a few decades, but now I am in a new chapter.

I am now a teacher.

Yes, I am taking a hiatus from art. Right now I am teaching Chinese kids ESL on line, and I love it. I love it because it is fun, but more importantly, I love it because I am appreciated and payed. The kids thank me, the parents thank me, the company I work for thanks me (and pays me) and I am pretty sure that my family thanks me for the financial contribution I am finally able to make. Being appreciated in life is not only nice, it is essential. At least, for me.

A few days ago I was offered an illustration job; 20 - 24 color illustrations, the pay? $65.00
For all. For 20+ pieces of art. . . . I had spent about a day, reviewing their story, coming up with a concept, painting some tabby cats, scanning and creating a template for the work, making a mock cover. (I like the work and am proud of it I will post it here.) The art director loved it. I told her my rate was $100 an illustration, she said she would see what she could do. Their offer $65 for all 20 illustrations.

What is it in this world has made us think that art should be virtually free?

Because, in part, it is.

We can open a subject page in pinterest or google images, and see a billion free images. We can copy and paste them, make them a screen saver, print out a version to hang on our wall. Art is everywhere and it is mostly free.

and how about music? Click on youtube, search almost any artist and/or song, and there is a version for you to listen to. I actually get my music at the library by copying their cds. (totally legal if not for commercial use) and listening to them on my computer. At least the library did pay the artist for the work.

I heard of a very influential musician from the 60's that headed a whole new era of music, Nick Drake, , you can listen to one of his songs there. With a few clicks, here was his whole catalog to listen to. In his life, there was no internet, so he did not catch on, and he died an early tragic death from deep depression. If he had been more appreciated, would he have been as big as Bob Dylan?  He slipped under the cracks, as most great artists do. We only hear of the ones who got very lucky and had a public success. They become legends. and wealthy. and deeply appreciated.

So back to my idea of how we don't appreciate artists.

I don't know what the answer is. I don't want to think of what this world would be with no art.
No great music.
No beauty of the earth captured in photos, film, paintings.
No beautiful voices singing, soaring music to inspire us, drum beats to dance to.

I do know that we live in a time of tremendous access, a time that almost any art and music we hear of can be found and listened to or looked at within a few seconds. That is the most tremendous gift we have.

and I am very thankful for it.

But please, world, please value our artists.
Pay people who dedicate their lives to making art.
Pay for your music.
Pay for the art on your walls.
Pay for the films you enjoy.
Let our government know that organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts are the core of our civilization and it's expression. Have a voice that supports art and artists.

I am happy taking this hiatus, I am enjoying the very positive feedback and the helpful paycheck. I will continue to make art for myself, how could I not? and I do think one day, I might reenter the marketplace. In the meantime, I can work for joy and self expression, and earn my money another way.

and I can also publicly appreciate all the musicians and artists, and I can that share their brave work with the world.

Listen to some Nick Drake.
He deserves our appreciation.

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