by Gray Graham
One of the biggest lies out there is “You get what you pay for”. It is true that often if something costs more then it is of higher quality than something less expensive. Well at least that used to be true in the good old days but it is not the good old days today. Businesses take every single shortcut they can, to charge as much as they can, by giving you the lowest quality, they can get away with. It is how you maximize profits without actually doing anything.
Art is different. What artist sell is a feeling, an ideal. It is not a product you need. No matter how pretty that picture is, how lovely that song sounds, or how masterful that statue is, you don’t need it to live. It might move your heart and inspire you to save the world but the truth is that you don’t need it.
If you are an artist in business though it is your job to convince people that they do need that art. Your wedding pictures are going to make sure that couple is going to have a long marriage. Your crochet baby blanket is going to make sure that you have a great kid. Your great novel is going to usher in world peace. Just like people don’t need the newest iPhone or new car, they don’t need our art either.
Since we are not selling a product that keeps people alive, why then do so many creative people get mad when people don’t want to pay their rate? I say don’t want to pay because if they wanted to pay then they would. People can find money to pay for everything else they want in life from new athletic shoes to big screen TV’s so if they wanted your art then they would pay for it.
After all don’t artist complain about paying for stuff too? I am sure that they complain about the price of paint, fabric, gas, electricity, cameras, keyboards, microphones, paper, etc, etc, etc. I am pretty sure they don’t just open their wallets, pull out their cash, and just say here you go with a big smile on their face.
So I don’t complain when people say they don’t want to pay my rate. I also don’t lower it because they can’t pay my rate. Maybe they really can’t afford my rate. There are a lot of people that need every single dollar they can get so that means that the art they like might have to wait until times are better.
A lot of artists would do well to understand how to budget themselves. You don’t need the latest greatest tool for your craft. If you are really honest it probably is not going to make your art any better. I know you think it will but it won’t.
For a lot of people art is their passion, it is what makes them feel alive. It’s hard to make a living doing what you love especially when you can’t earn enough money to take care of yourself and your family. That is not your potential clients fault that is just life.
It is from these types of struggles that the best art is born. So while we may not need art to live it still tells the story of our lives. For a lot of people that is priceless. For others it is worthless. Both are valid views. We as artists need to learn how to accept them both.