No matter what you’re doing today, you have to get paid for your work. Artists especially need to look at this closely, as it can mean the difference between paying rent and living on the streets. There’s no fun in being broke and famous, is there? This is not the 1980s, you can’t sustain a career in art and hope that your free drawings will get you into the framework of famous pop artist lifestyles. Chances are, you’re not Basquiat, and there’s no Andy Warhol floating around your town looking to befriend you and make you famous. Don’t play yourself. The harsh reality of things in these modern times is that you need to work, and you have to stop giving away your art. It doesn’t make sense, not only that, but it also doesn’t make cents!
Getting Paid Is Always Worthwhile
Artists that want exposure should be very careful about doing pro bono work. There’s nothing good that can come from giving people free work with very few exceptions. If you’re going to do something for free, you’ll have to have an exchange in regards to the creative freedom and exposure you’ll get. For instance, if you’re truly going to go this route, make sure that you have a say in how your art is presented, promoted, and what tag lines, contact information and more is given. Do not just create for the sake of creating and then hand it off to some suit with a promise that you’ll get your pay day or dues. There are countless stories of people’s work ending up on sitcoms, for instance, with no tagline, no call out, and just randomly in the background of a scene. While this is a nice ego boost, it doesn’t pay your student loans, so don’t go that route. Instead, focus on creating pieces to sell, and work towards getting paid for your art, no matter what it is.
Cheapening Your Art
If you are constantly giving away your art, no matter what it is, it will diminish in value over time. There are very few examples of where you can make it big in any industry by giving your wares away. Sleeping in the parking lot of a radio station, isn’t going to get you into the DJ booth, no matter how inspiring the story of someone else’s life was in the 1970s or 1980s. Instead of going that route, and hoping for a miracle, work hard and get the tools in your toolbox necessary to get into the dream you want. If you’re dreaming of big pay days within any business, work hard to establish yourself within your industry and ask for a payment, do not accept “free” options.
Be especially wary of anyone that is going to cheapen your art by saying that it should be easy for you. It may be so-called “easy” for you, but remember how much work it took to hone your skills into a craft that is warranted of being wanted. If things are so simple, then maybe those asking for low cost work should just do it themselves, right? Don’t worry I’ll wait… waiting… still waiting… yeah, didn’t think so. Any douchebag who thinks things will be “simple” or “it shouldn’t take too long” need to go sit their ass down somewhere and do things for themselves then.
At the end of the day, don’t do anything for free if you have a skill set. Unless you’re an Internet marketer, or you’re an apprentice for a tattoo shop, or something that requires you to gain experience or college credit, abstain from giving your art away. Focus instead on finding avenues to get paid, even if it’s marginally, so that you can sustain a career over time. This business of giving away free work or cheapening your art will take the dollar out of your dream and will leave your ass with just a dream only. A dollar is better than getting nothing and some silly and empty promise of exposure down the line. Take the dollar today and get exposure too, it’ll literally pay off in the end.