I frequently tell myself I have to create. I have to. I have produce. I have to create. There is a need in me to tap into the creative spirit that is the essence of me. Matthew Healy from The 1975 once said “the idea of creating not being at the epicenter of my life terrifies me.” I connect deeply with that statement. I can’t imagine my life without some sort of creativity. It’s a joy for me and I get restless when I’m not doing it. But sometimes, as much as I want to create, I can’t.
It’s not a matter of having writer’s block, but rather facing the two paths that most artists have to face–doing something they love and doing something that will pay the bills. The ugly truth is creative endeavors are not always lucrative. Writing has to be one of the biggest financial gambles around and most lose rather than gain. I’m not trying to paint a grim picture to dishearten anyone but it’s time we talk about why creative people are expected to enjoy creating without expecting anything for the fruits of their labor.
I was watching a makeup artist on youtube, she was incredibly talented; when she mentioned at the end of the video where people can buy the products and support her, the comments made my heart ache. They called her a sell out, as if it was some crime to ask people to pay her for something they had enjoyed.
Writers, musicians, painters, crafters etc are treated with the same sort of disdain when the word money comes up. People expect free books, free music, free photography, not realizing how much time, effort, skill, and money goes into creating these types of works. I think bloggers and vloggers get an even greater lashing even though they put in a great amount of time to create content users can enjoy and be educated by.
Why are we so turned off by the idea of paying creative people? Why do we always assume it should be taken as a hobby, a fanciful pursuit, that should be done on off days between “real work.” This attitude makes it difficult for artists to truly create a life solely with their art. Most have side jobs, others rely on their spouse or family for financial support. The starving artist isn’t a cliche. It’s a very real reality for many who can’t imagine doing anything else but aren’t earning enough to keep creating.
One solution I can offer is for creatives to continue to pursue their careers, but with a business mentality. As an artist, you are self employed and anyone who is self employed needs to know the business behind their craft. Learn to market yourself; continuously promote your work, and don’t settle for the age old view of “it’s just a hobby.” This is the difference between being an artist and being a paid artist.
Do you think it’s important to support artists?