Show Your Appreciation for Art

Most of us know a musician. We may even know someone who writes, or have a friend who creates artwork of some type. We don’t generally think of them as artists though. Bob may work at the factory and play drums in his band in the evenings. Sarah is a tour guide for a museum even though her artwork could be hanging on the very walls where she works. Sam writes his novel at home, working at the local coffee shop each morning to earn a living while he waits for his latest work to become a best seller.

When we think of these friends, we generally associate them with the job that pays the bills. There are very few artists who can actually live off of what they earn by creating. Some would argue that’s because they’re not good enough artists, but I disagree. From what I’ve seen, their work is exceptional,  just not well-known, or maybe well-valued is a better term, by the masses. The only difference I would say is that those who are more famous, have better marketing people helping them succeed at their chosen career. And for that they pay a percentage to their agent, or publicist or manager, because… people do not work for free.

And yet, many seem to think that artists should have to struggle financially for their art. Everyone knows the phrase “starving artist” yet no one seems to think it odd that artists have to work more than one job just to survive. Surely it can’t be because their work is mediocre, because I’ve known many a mediocre waitress, plumber, or lawyer and they seem to only need one job. What is it, as a culture that makes us not value art? Is it so unbelievable to think that a painting, a book, or a song could be worth the price the artist is asking for? Are we really a culture that only values mass-produced imitations that are cheaply made? I’d like to believe not.

I’d like to think that each music download has been paid for and each photograph taken from the web has been authorized by its artist for use. I’d like to believe that each time you’ve asked how much that painting costs, you’ve replied, “Is that all? That’s quite a bargain, considering the time the artist must have spent creating it.” Many times I’ve heard folks say they can’t afford to buy art, yet they always seem to have the latest techno-gadget, or French manicure, or drive a brand new car. I guess it’s a matter of priorities and values.

Art isn’t recognized as something of value in our culture today, so why spend your hard earned cash on it? You could argue that any money spent, doesn’t really go to the artists themselves, but to the mega-corporations that bring those works of art to market, but that’s not always the case. If it pains you to expand the already abundant coffers of the mega-corps, then speak to the artist directly for a price that you can afford. More than likely they’ll offer you a fair price because they’d much rather have their art purchased and viewed/read/heard than sit in storage somewhere collecting dust. Check out the websites of musicians who offer their songs for a reasonable download price. Buy tickets to your local playhouse or community concerts. Read books that don’t make the best seller list or are posted to the web for viewing.

I’d like to challenge people of all walks to go out and purchase some type of art that pleases them. For each time you do, you’re helping an artist succeed in the profession they were meant to be. Artists shouldn’t have to starve any more than doctors, or beauticians or janitors.