I decided to write this in response to people who refuse to pay an artist’s price. I have seen a lot of them around my social media accounts, and it gravely disappoints me. I suppose this is an open, ranting letter. I am trying to speak on behalf of artists who find it hard to earn because of those who think of us as greedy. I hope we have the same sentiments.
And so, dear those who refuse to pay our price.
We all know that each and everyone in this great, wide world needs to survive. We all know that from childhood to adulthood, until death, people need the means to live. We are aware that there are different ways to earn to pull through the great race. There are the office workers. There are the freelancers. There are the dependants.
And we artists, who are people as well, who are part of the great population that inhabit this planet, use our unique talents and skills in order to live.
I should say that artists are very hard-working and persevering (I swear, I am not bragging).
As a child, they pick up crayons and pencils, then proceed to run their tips on grade-school paper. Even if all they could do are mere messy scribbles that have no meaning to adult eyes, they turn to elders or their friends to show their work with a proud grin. Children are naturally creative and imaginative. Elders and friends tend to be supportive. At the smile of encouragement or a gasp of amazement, artistic children are further pumped up to create more, and more. Years pass, and these children grow more curious about what they could do. They will ask for formal focused lessons, tutorials, materials.
If they are forgiven, they will be sent to art workshops. Art workshops usually run around USD 100 or more, if they are great ones. If they opt to have tutorial books, they still cost money. USD 20 or more, depending on how good the lessons are. If they view free ones, usually posted around the Internet, it still costs electricity. There are the internet and electricity bills. Together, these bills cost around USD 100, as well. Such bills continue until you’re dead, thank you very much.
For some artists, there are more bills. House or apartment rental, water, health, credit cards…there are more.
If the artist decides to focus on their skills and talent as they grow up, they are most probably going to decide on taking undergraduate courses related to those. A year in college costs around USD 2300. Multiply that by four to get a degree. Oh, don’t forget the miscellaneous fees, project fees, and whatever ridiculous fees they have. Count transportation fares in, too.
And ho, here comes the effort. Because talent isn’t the only thing that drives us to create. We have to have the effort. Giving effort leads to being tired and hungry. So of course artists need to eat. Food costs money, obviously, even if your mother cooks everything. In the future, they’re not going to feed you for they are growing old, too. We also have to have our health checked. That means hospital check-up bills, vitamins, and medicines.
The effort runs for years. Artists tend to want to learn new techniques and hone those, so sometimes, they take extra short courses that also cost money.
Boss: Why are you charging me so much for something you did in only 10 minutes?
Artist: Because it took me 10 years to learn how to do it in 10 minutes.
It is easy to learn everything in a day, but years to master everything.
Here also comes the cost of some materials. A good set of acrylic and oil brushes cost around USD 20 to 30. Good pigments cost around USD 10 per colour, per whole pan. Wacom tablets cost around USD 90 to 400. Good papers cost around USD 10. These get replenished every time everything runs out. Graphic tablets have to be replaced if it’s malfunctioning already. Nibs have to be replaced if it’s chipped shorter.
On a side note, I am from the Philippines, so I’m basing some prices off my country’s currency for estimated conversions to US dollars. Some are based off what I see around Amazon or art material brands’ websites. Everything’s cheaper in the Philippines if you are from rich countries, so a hundred bucks might be cheap for you – if you are someone who earns a lot. However, these are all already blinding prices for me. And if you are an artist who lives elsewhere, I know that you know how expensive everything is in your setting.
Moving on. I suppose you are tired reading this very short list of artists’ life and crafts expenses. Don’t worry, we artists are tired of seeing these figures, too. But we can’t stop having to look at them.
This is a good video to illustrate my sentiments. This doesn’t just apply to designers. This applies to every artist. Illustrators, writers, designers, musicians…everyone.
We ask you not to complain if we set our prices high. It doesn’t even match up to our skill’s capital amount. We have invested a lot for what we can do (even if some of us aren’t professional yet), only to earn an amount that can barely get us by. If you find our prices too high, find someone else who charges cheaper. Don’t rely on requests or art trades, because our effort for those won’t help us survive. Those who just do requests or trades will eventually want to earn by using their artistic skills, anyway.
Ah, yes. I would like to be brutally frank: people who refuse to pay our price are the reason why most artists are starving. Why we are called poor.
That closes the first part: expenses. Let’s go over the second part: popularity.
Well, popularity is not bad at all. We need it to have exposure, of course. We need to be known. We need to market ourselves. All this to have the possibility to earn money to live. Not just to feed our pride.
It takes courage and confidence to show our works to everyone who is possible to negatively judge, or plainly admire. Courage and confidence are developed for years, and it is hard to hone, especially if an artist’s self-esteem is too low.
It’s high time that artists aren’t treated so poorly. Being an artist is a profession and a vocation, in my opinion. Time, great amounts of money, and effort are just some of the capital, and these shouldn’t be belittled. Some people might have decided to be a teacher, an accountant, a businessman, or whatever. They also work and earn. And artists are similar to such people.
We artists are not greedy just because we’re charging high. We have to do this to help or try to make ends meet, that’s all.
I excuse this piece – I may have not proofread properly. I may have been redundant. But I hope I got my thoughts across clearly. I would appreciate if anybody commented on this.
Bless you all, though, people who refuse, or refused, to pay our price. I hope you are now enlightened and educated enough not to belittle artists who set high prices.